Packers’ time is up, Vikings-Cowboys reaction and more

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On Thursday night, the Green Bay Packers lost to the Tennessee Titans. They also lost any illusion of salvaging both this season and the near future.

It ended as it should have.

At Lambeau Field, on a cold night, with the chill of snow in the air.

On Thursday evening, the Green Bay Packers fell 27-17 to the Tennessee Titans, dropping their record to 4-7. The defeat left no doubt of Green Bay’s demise.

It’s over. And it might be over for some time.

The question now is whether the Packers accept their reality or plunge into denial.

General manager Brian Gutekunst has no easy solution. Green Bay’s first decision regards Aaron Rodgers, who has a 2023 cap charge of $31.6 million with a cash payout of $59 million guaranteed, per Jason Fitzgerald of OverTheCap.

To trade Rodgers, the Packers would eat $40 million unless they did so after June 1, which would split the dead money as $15.8 million and $24.5 million over the upcoming two years.

Of course, the latter is a better choice, but it comes with a price. By June 1, most teams already have their quarterbacks, and very few will be able to absorb Rodgers’ $59.5 million cost.

While there are other problems facing Gutekunst — more on those in a second — the Rodgers question looms. Keep the Hall of Fame quarterback on a declining team, or take the dead cap hits and get what you can?

As for the other issues, there are significant ones.

Green Bay is projected to have $4.4 million in cap space this offseason, and yet has notable free agents led by offensive lineman Elgton Jenkins, receiver Allen Lazard and tight end Robert Tonyan. Additionally, there are bloated salaries on the books for left tackle David Bakhtiari and running back Aaron Jones, at $29 million and $20 million, respectively.

On the surface, Bakhtiari is a cap casualty. This until you realize Green Bay would eat $23.1 million in dead money. Jones could be sent out for $10.4 million recouped, but he’s the offense’s best weapon.

Again, what is the best route for Gutekunst? There are two sane paths:

1) Keep Rodgers, Bakhtiari and Jones. Then, hope to hit a few home runs in the draft which will ease the cap situation and replenish the roster.

This is what happened for the cap-strapped New Orleans Saints in 2017, when their rookie class included corner Marshon Lattimore, right tackle Ryan Ramczyk, safety Marcus Williams, running back Alvin Kamara and edge rusher Trey Hendrickson. This group propelled the Saints to the NFC title game in ’18 and the playoffs in four consecutive years.

2) Unload post-June 1. Trade Rodgers and Jones, and release Bakhtiari. Get the cap sheet in order and turn the newfound cap space into rollover savings for ’24, covering the dead money. Meanwhile, pick up Jordan Love’s fifth-year option and commit to him for at least one season as the starting quarterback.

This path gives Green Bay flexibility much quicker, but tanks it in the immediate. This also avoids throwing bad money at an aging core, something New Orleans did and now has an annual bout of cap hell with because of. Finally, it means premium draft position.

Whatever Gutekunst decides, he needs to commit. No half-measures. No mistaking hope for a strategy.

Regardless of his choice, Thursday night rendered the situation in Green Bay clear as the night sky.

The Packers in their current form are finished and headed for a reckoning in the coming months.

Power rankings

Top 10 cold-weather venues in NFL history

1. Lambeau Field – Green Bay Packers
2. Metropolitan Stadium – Minnesota Vikings
3. Highmark Stadium – Buffalo Bills
4. Mile High Stadium – Denver Broncos
5. Cleveland Municipal Stadium – Cleveland Browns
6. Three Rivers Stadium – Pittsburgh Steelers
7. Foxboro Stadium – New England Patriots
8. Soldier Field – Chicago Bears
9. Veterans Stadium – Philadelphia Eagles
10. Giants Stadium – New York Giants/Jets

Quotable

“No.”

– New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson on whether he let his defense down in a 10-3 loss

If Wilson wasn’t losing respect in the locker room for his on-field performance, this answer won’t help matters. As former All-Pro corner and current Amazon analyst Richard Sherman pointed out on Twitter, the Jets had more punts (10) than Wilson had completions (9).

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Random stat

Linebacker Larry Ball is the only player to ever play for an unbeaten and winless team, doing so with the 1972 Miami Dolphins and ’76 Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Info learned this week

1. Jets cower, then lose after Zach Wilson meltdown

Robert Saleh had to be cursing himself as Marcus Jones was crossing the goal line.

The New York Jets fell 10-3 in excruciating fashion at Gillette Stadium to the New England Patriots, with the deciding score being Jones’ 84-yard punt return with five second remaining. Saleh, who helmed New York to a 6-4 start, finds his team in the AFC East basement after one of the more dumbfounding sequences you’ll ever… Visit Source fansided.com.

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