Packers: Brian Gutekunst faces tough decisions in free agency

Green Bay Packers, Clay Matthews (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Clay Matthews (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has some tough decisions to make in free agency.

Each team in the NFL faces a number of tough decisions in free agency every offseason. The same is true for Packers GM Brian Gutekunst this spring.

The Packers have 12 unrestricted free agents this offseason, including a couple of players who have been key contributors to this team for a number of years.

Clay Matthews is the Packers’ all-time sack leader with 84.5 in 10 seasons. He’s a three-time All-Pro and six-time Pro Bowler in Green Bay, and played a key role in the team’s Super Bowl run in 2010.

But Matthews turns 33 this offseason and finished 2018 with a career-low 3.5 sacks. With the pass rush likely to be an offseason focus for Gutekunst, should he re-sign Matthews?

Randall Cobb has been one of Aaron Rodgers‘ go-to receivers for years, and he’s the most experienced wide receiver on the team.

MORE: Making a case to re-sign Randall Cobb this offseason

Rodgers has made it clear how important Cobb is to the offense, and it’s hard to believe that was an accident or coincidence. It sure sounded like a message that Rodgers wants Cobb back in 2019.

Cobb has struggled to stay healthy; he hasn’t completed a full 16-game season since 2015. But he can still be a difference maker for the Packers offense. Whether he is back next season or not will likely come down to the price and length of the contract.

Re-signing Bashaud Breeland might be the team’s top priority before the new league year begins. Breeland was signed in September, and after missing some time with injury, made a big impact in the secondary.

Breeland had two interceptions this season, including a pick-six against the Atlanta Falcons. If the Packers re-sign Breeland and have a trio of Breeland, Jaire Alexander and Kevin King to start 2019, they’ll be in a good position at cornerback.

The Packers also have to decide whether to re-sign Muhammad Wilkerson. Wilkerson signed a one-year, $5 million in the offseason, but his season was cut short due to injury after playing in just three games.

MORE: Which free agents should the Packers bring back in 2019?

Will the Packers bring back linebacker Jake Ryan, who missed all of the 2018 season with a torn ACL? Gutekunst must also decide what to do at tight end, with Marcedes Lewis and Lance Kendricks both free agents this offseason.

According to Spotrac, Green Bay will have about $31.5 million in cap space to start 2019. How much they have to spend on other free agents will depend on who they bring back, and also if Gutekunst decides to move on from a player under contract to free up more cap room.

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It’s an important offseason for the Packers. Gutekunst may look to spend some money in free agency, but first he must decide which players to bring back.