If the season started today, how confident would you be in the Packers defense?
I say that because the defensive warts were exposed last year. The lack of depth in the secondary, another edge rusher besides Nick Perry and someone else on the defensive line to take advantage of the double teams that Mike Daniels gets.
General manager Ted Thompson still has $27.7 million to play with. Now we all know how much Thompson loves his draft picks, but he has to ask himself if he would get the same value with a rookie as opposed to trading that pick to New England for Malcolm Butler. The Saints have been interested, but they don’t want to dole out an 11th overall pick – which is costly.
Butler will be entering his fourth season and was frustrated that his 2016 salary was $600,000. According to Pro Football Focus, the 27-year-old was the No. 2 cornerback last season after stepping into Darrelle Revis’ huge shoes.
T.J. Watt is currently pegged by CBS Sports as the Packers first round selection. I think that’s a great pick. Watt appears to be a high-energy guy like his brother and will punish NFL quarterbacks for a long time.
However, the question is timing. The Packers aren’t in a position to wait two years for a player to blossom and develop. They need impact players right now. They advanced to the NFC Championship Game thanks to the right arm of Aaron Rodgers and the most unreal six-game winning streak to close out the regular season.
So in order for this team to get any better, the Packers have to realize who they are without Rodgers. In 2013, Rodgers broke his collarbone and missed seven games. He came back in the season finale to win the division, but it was evident that this team desperately needs him.
If Rodgers isn’t playing for the Packers, Green Bay turns into the Bears. Rodgers can put a team on his back and drag them into the playoffs — which he has done five times. But he needs help to get through the postseason.
If Thompson doesn’t like what he sees in Butler, or if he cannot pull the trigger on trading a first round pick, then he needs to reexamine the Packers’ pass rushers. Can Clay Matthews be a consistent edge rusher? Because if he can’t, the Packers shouldn’t be taking a $15 million cap hit this year just because he was productive in the past. Does he bring in a guy like DeAndre Levy to add pass-rushing depth?
Thompson has made his decisions on Eddie Lacy, Datone Jones, T.J. Lang, JC Tretter, Julius Peppers, Jared Cook, Micah Hyde and Mike Pennel. Those guys aren’t coming back.
There’s a reason Rodgers said the Packers “can take a big step this offseason,” after getting routed by Atlanta in the NFC Championship Game. It’s because he knows that the Packers aren’t that far away from getting to another Super Bowl. But with the Cowboys infusion of young talent, it’s not going to get any easier when that team starts to peak.
With so many injuries in the secondary combined with spotty play by Matthews and Jones, there were many questions. The time has come for Thompson to come up with some answers.
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