The Question No One Is Asking About The Packers Free Agency Approach In 2020

Last year, the Packers went big on free agents. In case you’ve been living under a rock for the last year, they signed Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, Adrian Amos, and Billy Turner all within a few hours of each other.

It worked out pretty well (even if Bears fans deny it).

Now fans want more. “It worked out good last year, so let’s do it again!”

Not so fast.

Free agency fails more often that it succeeds. The big name guys who sign big-money deals usually don’t even up finishing those deals because they are such big risk, poor value moves.

The Packers also have a much tighter cap situation this year sing they signed four big money free agents to back-loaded contracts last year and they have veterans like Kenny Clark, David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones, and Corey Linsley are all coming up as free agents next year.

Sure, cutting Jimmy Graham frees up some cap space, but the question here isn’t about money management as much as it is about the draft.

The big  issue here is the that Bryan Bulaga is expected to get a contract in the $12M range.

That could net the Packers a 3rd round compensatory selection if they don’t sign another free agent.

The big question that no one is asking is: would that Packers rather have a free 3rd round pick next year or sign an expensive free agent this year?

I’m not a fan of expensive free agents. Sure, it worked great last year, but we still haven’t hit the big cap charges and history shows us that the Packers dream free agent class of 2019 was a historic outlier.

Money aside, that 3rd round pick could weight heavily on the Packers decision process when free agency opens next week.

The one caveat here is that the compensatory formula only takes into account free agents who are coming off of expiring contracts. The formula is not impacted by free agents who are cut by their team.

That means signing a linebacker like Corey Littleton (whose contract is up with the Rams) could cancel out a compensatory pick the Packers could earn if Bryan Bulaga walks, but signing a linebacker like Christian Kirksey (who was cut by the Browns and played under Mike Pettine for two years) would not.

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Want to learn more about how free agency works?

Want to see what we can learn from history instead of just one-off examples?

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NFL Free Agency Hits and Misses

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Check out Packers Draft Central 2020 for all our 2020 NFL Draft and Free Agency coverage!

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