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It’s time. The Green Bay

  • July 4, 2019
    Packers Jason
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    , with their playoff hopes on life support but still
    certainly breathing, are at Soldier Field this afternoon to play the NFC
    North-leading Chicago Bears in week 15.The two teams traded blows in week one at
    Lambeau Field, but it was Aaron Rodgers who got the last laugh. After leaving
    with a knee injury in the second quarter, Rodgers returned after halftime and
    led a furious comeback in the fourth quarter as the Packers won a 24-23 thriller
    on Sunday night.Since then, however, the teams have moved in opposite
    directions. The 9-4 Bears can clinch the NFC North title with a victory today,
    while likely eliminating the Packers from playoff contention at the same time.
    Meanwhile, a Packers win keeps them alive in the hunt for the postseason, though
    they will still need help. Green Bay could still be alive if they lose today,
    but in that case they would need to see the Minnesota Vikings lose to the Miami
    Dolphins to keep them afloat.Get ready for today’s contest with our Game Primer,
    and keep it here to follow along and discuss the game.Game Updates from APC
    StaffA Twitter List by acmepackingco Game Updates from Packers MediaA Twitter
    List by TexWestern Gutekunst has approached "every available avenue" in
    re-shaping the Packers’ roster over the past year." />Skip to main
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    AdviceCDTShareTweetShareShareBrian Gutekunst has stayed true to his word in
    exploring talent in his short time as Packers’ GMPhoto by Patrick Smith/Getty
    ImagesWhen Brian Gutekunst was named General Manager of the Green Bay Packers in
    January 2018, he was quoted as saying that the organization would not leave any
    “stone unturned as far as every avenue of player acquisition.” In almost a year
    and a half as a leader of the front office, Gutekunst has stayed true to his
    word.Just this week, writers noted distinct differences between Gutekunst and
    his predecessor Ted Thompson in terms of their strategies of acquiring talent.
    Not only have the Packers added high-caliber special teams players in the hopes
    of also uncovering the talents that made them drafted as position players, they
    have also more thoroughly explored the waiver claim market. While Green Bay
    continues to largely employ a draft-and-develop strategy for building its
    roster, it has not been the only method of acquiring talent under the new
    regime.DraftGutekunst’s first draft as GM in 2018 resulted in a promising group
    of young players. While the development of second-day selections Josh Jackson
    and Oren Burks will be a key to the long-term assessment of the class, early
    contributions from Jaire Alexander, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, and Equanimeous
    St. Brown are more favorable than some of the Packers’ recent drafts.Outside of
    Thompson’s trade back into the first round to pick Clay Matthews in 2009, the
    Packers have rarely showed as much early-round aggression in draft-day trades as
    they have the last two years under Gutekunst. Last year, the Packers traded back
    from pick 14 in the first round with the New Orleans Saints to gain an extra
    first round choice in 2019. They then used a third-rounder to trade back up to
    get the man they wanted in Alexander. Even this
    April Mike Daniels
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    , Green Bay took no chances of losing Darnell Savage,
    trading up nine picks to scoop up the safety. While it is too early in
    Gutekunst’s tenure to judge his drafting skill, he has at least been aggressive
    via that route.Undrafted Free AgentsAny disciple of Thompson can be expected to
    value the undrafted free agent pool and Gutekunst has been no different, keeping
    several such players that were signed last offseason. The Packers retained Tim
    Boyle, Alex Light, Raven Greene, and James Crawford on the initial 53-man
    roster, while eventually activating Tyler Lancaster during the season. While not
    an original Green Bay undrafted signing, rookie cornerback Tony Brown was signed
    in late September and showed the potential to be a valuable piece moving
    forward.Green Bay has found many undrafted gems in the past decade and Gutekunst
    appears to be just as committed as Thompson was in giving those players a
    legitimate chance at roster spots.TradesWhile trades are less frequent in the
    NFL than other major professional sports leagues, the Packers made their fair
    share of end-of-preseason trades when determining the final 53-man roster under
    Thompson. Gutekunst also made a late-August deal when he shipped Brett Hundley
    to Seattle, but he was also active at uncommon times. Gutekunst’s first major
    move as GM was sending Damarious Randall to Cleveland for DeShone Kizer, an
    unforeseen early-March trade in which Green Bay hoped to improve its quarterback
    depth. While the Packers did not necessarily add a player, they were more active
    at the 2018 trade deadline as well, dealing Ty Montgomery and Ha Ha Clinton-Dix
    in two separate moves. Each player, on expiring contracts and unlikely to be
    re-signed,brought back draft pick collateral to Green Bay.Waiver ClaimsThe
    Packers made several waiver claims during the 2018 season, including the
    additions of defensive back Natrell Jamerson and defensive lineman Fadol Brown
    who will each be fighting for roster spots again this summer. But the Packers
    have continued to be active through the waiver route in 2019.Just in the last
    month, Green Bay has claimed cornerback Mike Tyson, wide receiver Jawill Davis,
    and kicker Sam Ficken. The pursuit of tight end Jordan Leggett this week, though
    Tampa Bay won his
    rights ,
    was yet another example of Gutekunst trusting his pro scouts and trying to
    increase the competition at a position that had already added depth this
    offseason. Waiver claims should continue to be a cost-effective way for the
    Packers to pick up role players under Gutekunst.Restricted Free AgencyIt is not
    often that the Packers have turned to the restricted free agent market for
    talent. More often, they have had internal players such as Aaron Kampman sign an
    offer sheet with another team before ultimately matching the offer. While most
    restricted free agency pursuits from Green Bay would be considered a surprise,
    Gutekunst has proven he has not ruled those opportunities out.In his first few
    months on the job, Gutekunst shocked many when he signed Chicago cornerback Kyle
    Fuller to an offer sheet. Whether it was to force the Bears’ hand on a lucrative
    long-term deal or an intentional attempt to improve the defense, the focus on
    Fuller indeed showed that Gutekunst would leave no stone unturned.Unrestricted
    Free AgencyLast but certainly not least, unrestricted free agency has been a
    renewed focus under Gutekunst to improve the roster. In his first free agency,
    the Packers landed Jimmy Graham, Marcedes Lewis, Davon House, Tramon Williams,
    and Byron Bell in the spring before bringing Bashaud Breeland in September.But
    those moves were pale in comparison to Gutekunst’s dealing in 2019, moving
    quickly to sign Preston Smith, Za’Darius Smith, Adrian Amos, and Billy Turner on
    the second day of free agency. While the extreme level of activity should not be
    expected every year under Gutekunst, it represented a willingness to shake up
    the roster and commit money to getting quicker results on the field. After years
    of futility in free agency under Thompson, Green Bay has raised eyebrows with
    its number of free agent moves under Gutekunst.Brian Gutekunst vowed to explore
    all options of acquiring talent when he took the Packers’ GM position and so far
    he has lived up to that promise to large extents. And with Green Bay trying to
    get back to the postseason, he may have plenty more moves up his sleeves as the
    year plays out.