New faces: OLB Za’Darius Smith, OLB Preston Smith, S Adrian Amos, OL Billy Turner, DE/OLB Rashan Gary, S Darnell Savage, OL Elgton Jenkins, TE Jace Sternberger
They’re gone: OLB Clay Matthews, WR Randall Cobb, OLB Nick Perry, DE Muhammad Wilkerson, LB Jake Ryan, CB Bashaud Breeland, CB Davon House, OL Byron Bell
2019 snapshot: In one of the more active Packers offseasons in recent memory, an interesting dichotomy emerged: The offense was overhauled schematically under a new head coach, but almost all personnel resources were devoted to the defense.
Clearly, GM Brian Gutekunst is confident that Matt LaFleur — who has worked on the staffs of Sean McVay and Kyle Shanahan– can find the right recipe for Aaron Rodgers & Co., as he added just two linemen (Turner and Jenkins) and a mid-round flex tight end (Sternberger) on offense.
On defense, Gutekunst backed up the Brinks truck (combined $118 million over four years) for the Smiths (unrelated) to replace Matthews and Perry (both released) on the edge. He also took mega-talent Rashan Gary — who could line up all over the place in Mike Pettine’s defense — with the 12th overall pick in the draft and made major investments at safety in Amos (four years, $37 million) and Savage (trade up to 21st overall). That gives Pettine plenty of toys to play with in a shape-shifting defense, but it all must come together.
Sternberger is ready to contribute as a receiver right away, but he’ll have to fight Jimmy Graham for snaps. Of course, how Rodgers takes to LaFleur’s offense will supersede all else.
Get to know … WR Marquez-Valdes Scantling
Glowing offseason reports about wide receiver MVS soothed concerns about a young group of skill-position players, and it’s a reason the team didn’t dip into the WR pool in the draft. Packers’ scouts believe his upside is not far from that of Davante Adams coming out of college.
Worth the investment?
–Not even the most optimistic Packers backers can be certain of the direction this team will take amid a major offseason change. But Aaron Rodgers, when healthy, is bound to get you to .500. Could he have 12 wins in him? The over/under win total consensus is 9.5.
Bottom Line: Green Bay was probably too aggressive in spots and didn’t fill every hole. But if LaFleur unleashes Rodgers, this team will be back in Super Bowl contention.