Packers wanted to win now and win in the future, got worst of both worlds

Green Bay Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst talks to the media about the 2022 NFL Draft on April 25, 2022, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.Gpg Gutekunst 042522 Sk28
Green Bay Packers General Manager Brian Gutekunst talks to the media about the 2022 NFL Draft on April 25, 2022, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis.Gpg Gutekunst 042522 Sk28 /

You can’t have your cake and eat it too. The Green Bay Packers are learning that the hard way.

When Brian Gutekunst took over as the general manager ahead of the 2018 season, the Packers were a team spiraling out of control. They finished 2018, Gutekunst’s first at the helm, with a losing record for the second straight year and a quarterback-coach combo that clearly wasn’t working.

Gutekunst decided to move on from his Super Bowl-winning, veteran coach and brought in a young, inexperienced decision-maker. That move signaled the team was building for the future. In the same offseason, he also signed veterans Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos and Billy Turner in free agency. Moves that signaled they wanted to win now.

Green Bay surprised everyone in Matt LaFleur’s first year by winning 13 regular season games and advancing to the NFC Championship game. Following their blowout at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers, it was clear they were still a player or two away from truly competing.

The Green Bay Packers tried to set their team up to win now and for future success. In the end, they got the worst of both worlds.

Gutekunst responded by drafting for the future instead of providing immediate help. He moved up in the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft to select Jordan Love, their quarterback of the future. This upset and confused many people, as Green Bay could’ve added immediate help to a team that just made the NFC Championship game. He followed that up by reaching for a backup running back in the second round, and nabbing a lightly used tight end/fullback hybrid in the third. In the end, they drafted zero immediate impact players, signaling they were building for the future.

In the coming offseasons, the Packers would move any and all salary they could to keep all the veterans on their roster. This included adding void years to contracts, converting signing bonuses and any other creative measure to maximize their current Super Bowl window. A win now move.

It resulted in three amazing years for Green Bay, as they won 13 regular season games from 2018-2020 and made the NFC Championship game twice. However, they were never able to get over the hump.

Gutekunst could never fully commit to one direction for the team. He tried to use the draft to build for the future while using the other tools to win now. It resulted in a contradicting team approach. If the Packers were truly all in right now, shouldn’t they have used their draft picks on players who filled immediate team needs instead of long-term ones?

They also stood pat at this year’s trade deadline. Gutekunst seemingly didn’t want to sacrifice the future by trading away draft picks and maximizing their current window. Sound familiar?

The indecision is costing the Packers big time. They failed to provide Aaron Rodgers and this offense with capable weapons that can help them win now. They rank 26th in points per game. At 3-5, their season could be over in a month if they don’t beat some very good football teams.

Their salary cap sheet is a mess. They’ve pushed so much money into future seasons; they’re already over the cap for next season without retaining a single free agent of theirs or signing a draft pick. But at least they have all of next year’s picks!

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Ultimately, Gutekunst couldn’t commit to one direction for his team. He wanted them to be both very good now and in the future. That’s an admirable position. But you go all in when your team has a Hall of Fame quarterback in his late 30s playing at an MVP level. The Packers wanted their cake and to eat it too. As of now, it looks like they’ll do neither.