Brian Gutekunst is quietly crushing smaller deals. He’s made a handful of splashy trades, but the majority of his work has been done on smaller deals with players who don’t get much attention from fans and media members. These are typically mid- to late-round draft picks that have greater upside than some of their higher profile counterparts in free agency or trade talks around the league.,
The “packers gm” is a position that has been vacant for some time now. Brian Gutekunst has been quietly crushing smaller deals and reshaping the team into his vision.
Brian Gutekunst has made his mark on the Green Bay Packers this summer, if nothing else. It’s still anyone’s guess if he succeeds or fails, but it doesn’t get much bolder than dealing away the greatest receiver in the NFL, Davante Adams, in the same offseason as offering your four-time MVP quarterback a record-breaking contract.
Gutekunst and the Packers made some big decisions, and they deserved to be in the news. However, the guy known as “Gutey” has done some outstanding work in the margins and on agreements with some lesser-known players this offseason.
These four decisions, in no particular sequence, have proven critical for Green Bay, while not garnering as much attention.
End of the rope The Green Bay Packers have re-signed Robert Tonyan Jr.
The Green Bay Packers’ #85 Robert Tonyan and #12 Aaron Rodgers celebrate a touchdown against the Detroit Lions | Quinn Harris/Getty Images
Robert Tonyan Jr. has returned to a “prove-it” contract, and he has a lot to prove.
Is he the guy that stunned the NFL by receiving 11 touchdown passes in 2020? Is he the unimpressive but athletic tight end who caught 1.3 touchdown passes a season in his previous four seasons?
At the very least, he is now a seasoned tight end who is familiar with Matt LaFleur’s scheme and has Rodgers’ confidence, which is tremendously crucial to the Packers.
Tonyan must first show that he can recover from a major ACL injury sustained in November of 2021. He’ll then have to show he can be a double-digit touchdown tight end once again.
He’ll return on a one-year contract with a voidable option for a second year, which will improve Green Bay’s salary cap issue this summer.
Rasul Douglas’ return is crucial for the Packers.
Green Bay Packers’ Rasul Douglas #29 celebrates with teammates after an interception against the Cleveland Browns | Stacy Revere/Getty Images
Rasul Douglas sprang out of nowhere in 2021 to become Green Bay’s top defensive playmaker. Given that he was acquired off the Arizona Cardinals’ practice squad halfway through the season, it came as a surprise.
However, the magic came when Douglas stepped into the position left by an injured Jaire Alexander and rapidly gelled with the Packers. In only 12 games, he had five interceptions, including two pick-sixes.
With Alexander returning from injury and soon-to-be second-year cornerback Eric Stokes coming off a strong rookie season, Douglas looked set to go in free agency, where he would be able to cash in on his stellar season.
Gutekunst was able to work out a deal that worked for Douglas (three years, $21 million), and the Packers should have one of the top defensive backfields in the league next season.
Douglas’ last deal with the Las Vegas Raiders was for less than a million dollars, so kudos to him for turning up and being paid with the Packers.
For all sides, it’s a win-win situation.
The Packers had a significant gain with Randall Cobb accepting a lower pay.
The Green Bay Packers’ Randall Cobb #18 sprints with the ball against the Seattle Seahawks | Patrick McDermott/Getty Images
This seems to be a minor contract change, and it was. With that said, Randall Cobb’s $5.375 million wage reduction this summer is significant.
It allowed the Packers to save some money. Cobb will have one more opportunity to complete his career with a Super Bowl victory with his close friend Aaron Rodgers.
Cobb’s presence is more more critical now that Adams is gone, as he will serve as the wide receiver room’s elder statesman. With a couple of great rookie wideouts expected to join the Packers through the draft, having a smart veteran like Cobb who knows the ropes in Green Bay will be important.
De’Vondre Campbell was re-signed by Brian Gutekunst and the Packers.
Green Bay Packers’ De’Vondre Campbell #59 warms up before the game against the Baltimore Ravens | Getty Images/Rob Carr
Re-signing Outside of acquiring the 2022 first and second-round selections from the Las Vegas Raiders in exchange for Adams, De’Vondre Campbell was clearly the most important item the Packers achieved this summer.
Green Bay would have had to start again at middle linebacker if Campbell had been allowed to walk out the door, which would have been a major loss for a defense that was borderline great in 2021.
Campbell was the captain of the group, and he far surpassed expectations on his way to an All-Pro season. He not only made huge plays when the Packers needed them, but he also called defense plays with first-year defensive coordinator Joe Barry in his ears.
It may seem like a little point, but having Campbell back with the Green Bay Packers in 2022 and beyond might be crucial for the team.
Campbell had a season deserving of a big deal, and it seemed like Green Bay wouldn’t be able to pay him for a long. It’s nothing short of a miracle that Gutekunst was able to re-sign him to a five-year, $50 million deal extension.
Campbell earned $10 million per year, and he got it from the franchise that took a risk on him and proven correct.
If there was ever a feel-good tale, this is it.
ESPN and Pro Football Reference provided the statistics. Spotrac provides contract information.
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