Nothing about the start of the offseason for the Green Bay Packers has been all that surprising.
Sure, after a week of free agency, Matt LaFleur’s team doesn’t necessarily look “better” on paper. The Packers have lost a handful of free agents, including All-Pro center Corey Linsley, and they haven’t signed an outside free agent. But again, nothing that has happened since the end of the NFC title game qualifies as surprising.
The Packers, as they’ve always done, prioritized keeping their own roster intact. They cut only two actual contributors from last season – offensive tackle Rick Wagner and linebacker Christian Kirksey – to create cap space and found the rest by restructuring deals of veterans, including Preston Smith. General manager Brian Gutekunst got a team-friendly deal done with Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones on the day before the start of the legal tampering period and then patiently waited during the first week of free agency, knowing the team’s cap situation and with confidence in bargains being available later.
Save for the tenders handed out to restricted free agents (see: Robert Tonyan) and exclusive rights free agents (see: Allen Lazard), the Packers have done nothing since bringing back Jones.
The early departures were all expected to a certain degree.
The Packers let the Los Angeles Chargers make Linsley, a soon-to-be 30-year old, the highest-paid player at a non-premium position. Jamaal Williams signed elsewhere, a foregone conclusion after the Packers got Jones back. Tim Boyle left for a better opportunity. Montravius Adams wasn’t expected back.
The Packers can’t be considered a better football team as of March 22. But just about everyone with a realistic understanding of the team’s situation knew a talent drain was coming to start the offseason, and Gutekunst and the Packers have done a decent job of limiting the damage, all things considered.
This team has holes to fill between now and Week 1 in September. But free agency is still wide open, and the Packers have 10 draft picks. The avenues for improvement are available, even if the shiny new toy everyone wanted to open the new league year didn’t arrive.
The Packers picked keeping the core of their roster intact as best they could over a mini-rebuild, and they’ve been patient to start free agency, likely out of necessity. The start of the offseason might feel surprising, but it shouldn’t. The Packers have done what they’ve always done. And the work isn’t over.