The quarterback carousel has certainly been turning over the past seven days. Aaron Rodgers took a familiar seat. Russell Wilson and Carson Wentz have sought new thrills. Deshaun Watson is now seen as a respectable target for teams looking to make the jump to contender and I’m sure there will be some more moves before long.
One such move stopped the NFL world in its tracks however. The return of seven time Super Bowl champion, Tom Brady. Most suspected it wasn’t the end, but I doubt anyone thought the U-turn would come this fast. Brady is returning for what he described as “unfinished business.” I’m intrigued to see what unfinished business looks like to such a decorated player.
For the past few weeks I’ve been trying to piece together a Packers’ roster that I deemed well enough equipped to make another run. Who would return, who would leave, who would we pick up in free agency and who could be potential draft targets to complete the roster. I also contemplated likely moves from NFC rivals and concluded that, on paper at least, the NFC would be a two horse race between the Rams and the Packers. That has now changed dramatically.
The emergence of one extra candidate might not be seen as a dramatic shift, but when this candidate is lead by the most successful quarterback of all time, its pretty dramatic. A lot will depend on who the Bucs bring back, but needless to say, the “Brady factor” will make it a little easier to squeeze every ounce of value and quality onto their roster. Moves are already afoot, Chris Godwin tagged, Ryan Jensen re-signed and the timing of Brady’s announcement, on the eve of free agency, might save some agents a few extra phone calls. But there’s work to be done.
Ali Marpet has retired. Ndamukong Su, JPP, Alex Cappa, Gronk, Leonard Fournette, Ronald Jones, and Breshad Perriman are just a few of the names on a list of 20 plus free agents that all played a part in recent Buccaneers success. No doubt there is work to do for their front office, but perhaps the task just got a little easier.
Contrary to that, Brian Gutekunst’s task may have become more difficult. Already faced with big decisions owing to cap restrictions, the front office in Green Bay have been working to bring back as many of last seasons roster as possible. Some notable omissions could, unfortunately, include MVS, Za’Darius Smith, Robert Tonyan, Billy Turner, Mason Crosby and De’Vondre Campbell, to name but a few. Not the kind of names you want to see walk out the door when hoping to keep a championship roster together.
Gutekunst has spoken previously of his wish to be a contender for as many seasons as possible. He would no doubt have a plan for how the 2022 roster would look, carefully constructed through resigning players, utilising free agency and drafting well, especially in early rounds. I’m sure he believes if he can make 80-90% of this roster a reality, then the Packers will have a serious chance of winning in 2022. That task and the road to Arizona, however, has just become decidedly more difficult.