The Green Bay Packers were always a team that refused the lure of free agents – only in special cases were the franchise prepared to spend big on players outside of the organization. Reggie White was the case in point from the Philadelphia Eagles in 1994, becoming a legend and Super Bowl winner in the process.
However, he was the exception to the rule, especially under the tenure of Ted Thompson. Thompson’s reign from 2005 to 2018 as general manager was a success, winning the Super Bowl in the 2010 season after nailing the succession plan to Brett Favre by drafting Aaron Rodgers in the first round in his first term. There were also elements of frustration towards the end of his time that culminated in his role being shifted away from the control of personnel as he failed to build a well-rounded outfit to bring further titles to Green Bay.
Brian Gutekunst was announced as his replacement and has already remolded the side under a new head coach and defensive coordinator. Unlike his predecessor, Gutekunst has had no issues delving into the free-agent market. It has resulted in putting the Packers on the path towards a Super Bowl in an extremely competitive NFC Conference being backed at +1400 in the NFL betting to win the Vince Lombardi Trophy, although it will take a special effort from all areas of the team.
Fortunately, Green Bay’s defense has taken significant strides forward, but are still vulnerable to elite outfits. There have been high-profile defeats in the post-season in the past where Rodgers has been overwhelmed by the task at hand provided by defensive lapses. Gutekunst took note and made it a priority to build a stout unit that could support the future Hall of Famer. Preston Smith and Za’Darius Smith were signed to bolster the pass-rush on the edge and have not disappointed in their first seasons with the franchise.
At the time of writing, Preston Smith has notched a career-high 10.5 sacks after signing from the Washington Redskins, while Za’Darius Smith has equally been effective on the other edge with 10 quarterback takedowns of his own. Adrian Amos was snatched away from the Chicago Bears after a Pro Bowl season in 2018 and he has been a tackling machine in the secondary. He has molded seamlessly with the talent that the team have drafted, including Jaire Alexander and Darnell Savage in the first round of the last two drafts.
Gutekunst has built a stout defense to support Rodgers, but even if the Packers are successful in claiming the Super Bowl in Miami, the franchise needs to hand their quarterback more talent to work with on offense. Outside of Davante Adams and Aaron Jones, Rodgers is struggling to get a solid connection with his other receivers. Green Bay’s offense has been good enough to put them on the path for the playoffs and potentially beyond. However, an overhaul of the receiver position in a similar way the pass-rush and secondary have been created could be the next port of call for Gutekunst as he continues to put his stamp on the franchise.