Thursday Thoughts: Ervin To Return?

I find it interesting that franchise quarterbacks Deshaun Watson and to a lesser extent Russell Wilson have spent the past few months complaining about their organizations and contemplating life elsewhere, and yet Aaron Rodgers receives more criticism from the national media when he rolls his eyes after a receiver runs the wrong route. Anyway, here are three of the many Packers-related thoughts that ran through my head the past few days:

1) General manager Brian Gutekunst has a decision to make on unrestricted free agent Tyler Ervin. A year ago, he re-signed the veteran to a 1-year deal worth just over $1 million. And while there’s certainly a chance he could do something similar in the next few weeks, the guess here is that the two sides will part ways. What changed since last March? For one thing, the Packers don’t have the cap flexibility they had in 2020. But more importantly, Ervin simply wasn’t very productive as a returner this past season. The 27-year-old averaged 19.6 yards on kicks and 4 yards on punts. He was more valuable as the motion man on offense, but he still touched the ball only 24 times in eight games. Factor in his inability to stay healthy and it’s difficult to picture a third season in Green Bay for the former San Jose State star. Don’t be surprised if Gutekunst tries to find a replacement in the later rounds of next month’s draft.

2) Since leaving the Packers as a free agent five years ago, Micah Hyde has played in a Pro Bowl and signed two contracts with the Bills worth $60 million. It’s still hard to believe nobody associated with the Packers at the time thought that maybe, just maybe, corner wasn’t his best position. Hyde didn’t have the speed or the quickness to cover quality wide receivers, but he was more than athletic enough to do all of the things required of a safety. Let’s hope the Packers aren’t making the same mistake now with another former Iowa star. I’m not suggesting that Josh Jackson is as good a player as Hyde, but before he’s released or traded away for a used pair of cleats, it would make sense to see what he looks like at safety. Perhaps new defensive coordinator Joe Barry will finally make it happen.

3) Seven franchises were looking for new general managers after this past season, and not one member of the Packers’ front office even got an interview. That’s because none of Brian Gutekunst’s top four lieutenants (Milt Hendrickson, Jon-Eric Sullivan, John Wojciechowski, and Matt Malaspina) are highly thought of around the NFL. In fact, don’t be surprised if the person who gets the most buzz in the next few years is little-known director of pro personnel Richmond Williams. The 37-year-old has the kind of biography that’s popular these days. He played corner at Iowa and has a varied background when it comes to talent evaluation. He started as a college scout in 2012, became a pro scout in 2017, and was promoted to his current position in 2019. Plus, at a time when the league rightly wants to hire more Black coaches and GMs, his skin color might actually work to his advantage.

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Packers Notes is the creation of Michael Rodney, who has been writing about the Green Bay Packers for over 30 years. His first blog, Packer Update, hit the internet in 2004. Before becoming a public educator, Rodney worked as a journalist for a couple of newspapers in his home state of New Jersey and covered the Philadelphia Eagles for WTXF-TV. He's had numerous articles on the Packers published, and he's been featured on both television and radio over the years.
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