The Packers took a very aggressive approach to the start of free agency, shelling out $56 million in signing bonuses to add defensive end Za'Darius Smith, linebacker Preston Smith, safety Adrian Amos, and offensive lineman Billy Turner. That’s a very different approach from General Manager Brian Gutekunst than the Packers’ front office took with the old regime led by Ted Thompson.
But Gutekunst downplayed how big a change he has made to the Packers’ philosophy, saying Green Bay always wants to win.
“Obviously, this is Green Bay, Wisconsin; we’re in a win-now mode all the time,” he said, via ESPN. “I thought we needed to add to our defense significantly, and I think these guys will. So, I don’t think it’s any different than it ever has been.”
Teams always want to win, but they don’t always make the kinds of aggressive signings that Gutekunst made. Teams often build for the long run through the draft and prioritize that over free agency, and Gutekunst’s approach is very different than Thompson’s. Gutekunst downplayed talk that the Packers are running out of time to win with Aaron Rodgers, but he did say he’s working hard at improving quickly from last year’s 6-9-1 record, the Packers’ worst since Rodgers’ first year as the starting quarterback.
“Obviously, you can’t kick the can down the road forever, but at the same time I don’t think we really did that here. I think if you really look at it, we didn’t really jeopardize anything in the future,” he said.
When the Packers gave Rodgers a huge contract extension last year, the idea was that they should be Super Bowl contenders over the life of that contract, which expires after the 2023 season. Gutekunst wants to make that happen quickly.