Green Bay Packers: Past contracts are making the Packers pay

GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 28: Randall Cobb
GREEN BAY, WI - SEPTEMBER 28: Randall Cobb /

The Green Bay Packers are known for retaining their own players, but are the contracts they are signing them to really worth it?

As per usual, the Green Bay Packers are entering the offseason with plenty of cap space on their hands, which can be used to both re-sign their own free agents and potentially pursue others.

But their salary distribution is much worse than it looks.

The Packers have around $23 million in cap room to spend this offseason. That amount seems large, and could be used to fill in several gaping holes in the Packers’ depleted roster.

With few positions figured out and set for the future, new general manager Brian Gutekunst has his work cut out for him in his first year in charge of the team’s roster, but he also has opportunities.

For starters, Gutekunst would be smart to begin ponying up cash for a potentially record-breaking contract extension for Aaron Rodgers.

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Rodgers’ contract expires after the 2019 season, when he will be 36 years old. The Packers’ window with Rodgers is closing fast, and they should be willing to part with a few contracts that have proven to be questionable signings at best.

When looking at the receiving corps, the Packers have $34 million already being paid to Davante Adams, Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson. They don’t necessarily have the room to add much to their pass catchers given how much money is already being spent on just three players.

This is a huge problem.

It is no secret that the team needs to improve its passing attack, mostly by adding speed. Doing so through the draft would only change the team’s fourth and fifth wide receivers. In other words, the team has spent a huge chunk of its available resources on a position that still needs a lot more spending in order to fix.

Lance Kendricks was signed to give the Packers an added jolt of athleticism to their tight end position. Kendricks will only carry a cap hit of just over $2 million this coming season, but was disappointing in his first year.

The Packers should part ways with Kendricks, and, once again, begin the process of finding a new long-term solution for the tight end position.

Corey Linsley signed a large extension to remain with the Packers for another three years. He will be paid $25.5 million over three seasons. While he is only the ninth-highest paid player at his position entering next year, the money is still fairly excessive for a player who has never made a Pro Bowl, and has underachieved as a run blocker in an otherwise simple blocking scheme.

Defensively, the biggest problem last year was the non-existent pass rush.

Clay Matthews and Nick Perry provided very little off the edge all season. The lack of pressure was the biggest reason for the unit finishing 22nd in the league in total defense, and finally was the last straw for Mike McCarthy regarding Dom Capers.

But it’s not as if the Packers were spending all of their resources elsewhere and had a weakness to fix in the pass rush. The Packers are paying Nick Perry just south of $60 million over five seasons, while Clay Matthews is getting $66 million over the five years of his deal.

Between the receiving corps, pass rushers, and tight ends, the Packers are sadly getting very little mileage out of the positions they have invested the most money in.

The Packers have made large investments at quarterback, left tackle, right tackle, and defensive tackle. These positions have filled out nicely.

But Perry, Matthews, Cobb, Kendricks and Nelson have not provided the team with enough production over the last three seasons to warrant the large contracts they are getting.

Nelson is a slight exception, for his connections with Aaron Rodgers have been special to watch over time. But his advanced age of 32 and countless leg injuries have taken a toll on him.

Cobb’s lack of speed and questionable hands have seen him regress over the years. Perry is constantly injured, and is one of the slowest outside linebackers off the edge in the league. Matthews is declining faster and faster each year.

The Packers have some challenging decisions to make this offseason. Brian Gutekunst and his shuffled-up staff have work to do to fix up this depleted, starving roster.

Next: Packers: 12 players that need to go this offseason

But past contracts that have been given to underachieving players is making that process harder and harder to do effectively.