Since taking over as Green Bay Packers’ GM this past offseason, Brian Gutekunst has made it very clear that he did not like the construction of previous GM Ted Thompson’s roster, and in Gutekunst’s first year he has been dismantling it, piece by piece.
After a long career as Packers GM, Ted Thompson stepped down in to a consulting role at the beginning of 2018. To fill his position came Brian Gutekunst who had spent a number of years working under Thompson within the Packers’ organization.
One thing in particular has stood out since Gutekunst took over as GM and that was how much he despised the roster that Thompson had constructed. You have to wonder how much frustration Gutekunst felt sitting in the War Room on draft days watching Thompson and his decision-making process.
But since taking over, Gute has gone into overhaul mode and has been diligently reconstructing the roster into what he believes is a Super Bowl contender.
A fresh start
Thompson was known for his homegrown philosophy of drafting and developing players. This served him well early on in Green Bay, but recent years finding talent through the draft was a huge issue for Thompson, who has whiffed on quite a few draft picks.
In his short time as GM, Gute has let go of a number of players who played key roles in the previous few seasons under Thompson, including Ty Montgomery, Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, Damarious Randall, Quinten Rollins, Richard Rodgers and Jordy Nelson.
In fact, Gutekunst has transformed the roster so much, that it hardly has anyone left on it from Thompson’s last few drafts.
According the Rob Demovsky of ESPN, entering 2018 the Packers had only four full-time starters on the roster from the 2015-2017 drafts. Jake Ryan is on injured reserve, and as of Ty Montgomery being traded, there are currently no players on the roster from the 2015 draft.
If your plan is to ignore players in free agency and rely on the draft, you better hit on those picks or you’ll mire around in mediocrity. Which without Aaron Rodgers, is exactly where the Packers would be these last few seasons.
A new approach
Since taking over, Gutekunst has been a fresh breath of air for this Packers organization and its fans. He has taken a much more active and aggressive approach in adding new players to this team.
Unlike Thompson, Gutekunst has been very willing to bring in free agents if he feels they will help improve the team. This offseason he was able to bring in free agents Tramon Williams, Marcedes Lewis, Jimmy Graham, Muhammad Wilkerson and others.
Gutekunst has also been very aggressive in trades, almost landing Khalil Mack from the Raiders and making a run at edge rusher Dante Fowler of the Jaguars. Ted Thompson wouldn’t have even picked up the phone.
Another difference is how Gute evaluates draft talent. In his first draft, Gutekunst brought in dynamic, highly athletic players at just about every position. Guys like Jaire Alexander, Oren Burks, Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Equanimeous St. Brown all graded very well athletically in each of their respective positions.
Specifically in the secondary and in the receiving corps, we have already been able to see how impactful having playmakers on this Packers team can be.
Things in Green Bay are definitely not being run like they were with the previous regime. Gutekunst has his own vision of what a Super Bowl roster should look like and he is currently working to construct it.
Unfortunately it is not going to happen overnight and it will take a little time, but we have already seen major improvements to this roster. At this point we don’t know how it will turn out, but it appears that Brian Gutekunst has the Packers heading in the right direction.