Green Bay P ress-Gazette columnist Pete Dougherty answered questions from readers during a recent chat. For the complete transcript visit packersnews.com.
Q: Hey Pete, despite urgent and semi urgent needs at pass rush-end and corner, doesn’t Gutekunst need to resist drafting for need? Bottom line, we rarely draft this high so landing a blue chip starter irrespective of position is critical.
A: Yes, he does need to avoid over-emphasizing need, the greatest need is for playmakers at any position, especially on defense but really anywhere. So if there’s someone on the board at No. 14 that he thinks is going to be special, he should take the guy.
Q: What’s your take on No. 12 right now? Sounds like he’s tak- ing passive aggressive shots at the organization again. What leverage does he have to get a Cousins-type contract? If I am looking at this correctly, he needs to play out his contract and be tagged for 2 years before he’s at that $30M per year figure so it would seem the Packers have the leverage.
A: The Packers definitely have some leverage because of the two years left on his deal, no question there. But they also have a lot of incentive to not let him ever get to free agency, because those franchise tags are really, really expensive the second and third years — the raise the second year is 20 percent, and the third year is 44 percent. And let’s face it, his importance is so outsized that they want to keep relations good — they want him fully invested and feeling good that he’s in this organization. So there are a lot more reasons to get an extension done than to not. He’s got more than enough leverage to get a contract better than Cousins’. He should get a contract better than Cousins’. Now, at a certain point it gets counterproductive and costs so much that it makes it tougher to build a team around him. So he needs to keep that in mind too. The Packers have to walk a line between letting him know that his input matters greatly, but that he’s a player and not the GM. So on (Jordy) Nelson, for instance, that’s just a move they have to be free to make that move. These things happen all the time in the NFL, players get cut — the Patriots make moves like this every year. So while Rodgers might be unhappy about Nelson getting cut, this is the kind of thing he just has to live with.
New Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst shouldn’t worry about a specific position with the 14th pick in the draft.