At the end of the season, it seemed like a foregone conclusion that Jimmy Graham would not be back for a third year with the Green Bay Packers. Certainly not with a salary cap number of $11.7 million for 2020. But it appears general manager Brian Gutekunst isn’t necessarily ready to decide one way or another.
“After we get through free-agency meetings, after we get through draft meetings and then we get back from the combine, the picture starts to get a little clearer,” Gutekunst said. “And certainly with the CBA thing in flux, that’ll help, too. So I’m going to be patient there and get to the other side of the combine before we start making any decisions.”
Graham was fourth on the team in catches in 2019 with 38. He turned that into 447 yards and three touchdowns. Those aren’t huge numbers, but working in his favor is the fact that quarterback Aaron Rodgers is a big fan of his. He also finished the year strong with seven catches for 108 yards in two playoff games.
If the Packers do move on from Graham, it would save them $8 million in cap space in 2020.
Taking a quarterback early in the draft?
Brett Favre was set to turn 36 the season after the Packers took Aaron Rodgers in the first round of the 2005 NFL Draft. It was a pick few saw coming. With Rodgers having turned 36 last December, could Gutekunst go the way of former GB Ted Thompson and grab a quarterback with the 30th pick in April? Based on his responses to the beat writers on Friday, it’s possible.
According to the Green Bay Press Gazette’s Ryan Wood, the third-year GM wouldn’t hesitate to pull the trigger on a guy he loved.
Gutekunst on possibility of drafting QB early: "Everything I’ve been taught, that’s where you start. You start with the quarterback. So you evaluate them every year, and I think it’s always on the table. It’s a good crop this year." He thinks this QB class is "deeper" than past."
The 2020 quarterback draft class is a strong one. In his latest mock draft, ESPN’s Mel Kiper has four going in the first round. Several more could see their names called in the second and third round. Green Bay has not taken a quarterback earlier than the fifth round since 2008.
Plenty of swings at the plate
Gutekunst will have plenty of chances to help his roster during the draft.
In the meeting with beat writers, he said they currently have 10 picks. Seven of those are their own, including one in all seven rounds. They also have an extra sixth-round pick as a result of their trade with Tennessee last August for outside linebacker Reggie Gilbert, another sixth-round pick as compensation for the trade with Oakland last September for wide receiver Trevor Davis and an extra seventh-round pick for its trade of running back Ty Montgomery to Baltimore in 2018.
The complete draft order will be released in the next few weeks.