Thursday Thoughts: No Deal

Whatever’s left of the Packers coaching staff will lead the NFC in the Pro Bowl on Sunday. That usually means a week in Hawaii and an opportunity to recruit some soon-to-be free agents. Unfortunately, this year’s game is in Las Vegas, and Green Bay is approximately $50 million over the 2022 salary cap, meaning they’ll be shedding and not adding stars this offseason. But at least head coach Matt LaFleur will get a chance to commiserate with his old boss, Tennessee’s Mike Vrabel, who also led a No. 1 seed to an embarrassing one-and-done in this year’s playoffs.¬†Anyway, here are three more Packers-related thoughts that ran through my mind in the past few days:

1) The Packers lost tight end Robert Tonyan to a season-ending knee injury on Oct. 28. That gave general manager Brian Gutekunst five days to acquire a replacement for the team’s second-best receiver and one of the league’s top red-zone threats. Evan Engram and Hayden Hurst were available, but the Giants and Falcons were asking for third-round picks in exchange for players who would become free agents in five months. Gutekunst wasn’t willing to pay that price, and to be fair, neither was any other GM. But to be even fairer, no other GM was taking a team into the postseason with 37-year-old Marcedes Lewis and fullback Josiah Deguara as its top tight ends. Not surprisingly, that position was a black hole against the 49ers. Lewis fumbled and Degaura dropped an easy pass. But at least Gutekunst still has that draft pick.

2) The Packers have until early May to decide whether to pick up free safety Darnell Savage’s $7.9 million fifth-year option and thanks to a disappointing third season, that decision is no longer an easy one. The former Maryland star struggled after Halloween, as he missed too many tackles in the open field and was often slow to anticipate routes. Watching the 24-year-old Savage get abused by Ravens Pro Bowl tight end Mark Andrews in Week 15 is something Gutekunst won’t forget when he decides whether to lock Savage up for a fifth season or allow him to become a free agent in March 2023. The guess here is he’ll do the former, but that’s not the slam dunk it appeared to be six months ago.

A player with the speed and quickness of Savage (#26) should never get beaten this badly by a 260-pound tight end who ran 4.67 at the Combine.

3) LeRoy Butler is the only player from the NFL’s 1990s All-Decade Team to not be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Voters have another opportunity to finally rectify this ridiculous oversight next week. The Class of ’22 will be unveiled on Feb. 10, and the four-time All-Pro strong safety needs to be a part of it. If Butler gets in, he’ll become just the third member of the 1996 Super Bowl champs to be enshrined in Canton (defensive end Reggie White and quarterback Brett Favre already have gold jackets). That very special team, much like Butler, has been criminally underappreciated for years.

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Which injured player did Green Bay miss the most this season?

Michael Rodney

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.

2 thoughts on “Thursday Thoughts: No Deal

  1. LeRoy really needs to get in this year. The competition isn’t as strong as usual, and I’m afraid if he gets snubbed again, he might have to wait a really long time. I never got outraged over Jerry Kramer because I never saw him play, but I watched LeRoy so I know how deserving he is. The only reason Johnn Lynch is already in the Hall is because he was on TV every week for years. LeRoy was a better safety.

  2. Interesting story about Jerry Kramer. Early in camp he was really struggling, just awful. Lombardi was heading his direction and Kramer thought “oh no, going to get chewed out.” Instead Lombardi pulled him to the side and said “Kramer, you’re going to be an All-pro, one of the best.” Kramer stood their shocked but the reverse psychology worked. Kramer vowed to work his tail off and he became one of the greats.

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