Matt LaFleur, Brian Gutekunst are ‘on the same page’ as final cuts loom for Packers (2022)

Matt LaFleur, Brian Gutekunst are ‘on the same page’ as final cuts loom for Packers (1)

JASON WILDEFor the State Journal

GREEN BAY — It’s happened before, and it might happen on Tuesday, too, a smiling Matt LaFleur acknowledged Saturday afternoon.

General managers and head coaches don’t always see eye-to-eye on players when the final cuts at the end of training camp must be made, and the Green Bay Packers are no different than any other team, LaFleur said.

And so, the head coach surely will have a player or two that he likes better than general manager Brian Gutekunst does — and vice versa — when the final decisions on the initial 53-man roster must be made by Tuesday’s deadline.

Add in any input that four-time NFL MVP quarterback and quasi-assistant GM Aaron Rodgers might have, and the Packers will be aiming for a consensus before Gutekunst ultimately makes the final roster calls.

“A lot of times in coaching, I think you’re just thinking about today and not a year from now,” LaFleur said in advance of the team’s final two practices on Sunday and Monday before the cutdown. “There is a balance that is a good thing for when somebody has to look at just the talent level of a player. I think we’ve all learned — I know I have because I can speak for myself — that there is a development process that has to take place. And for some guys, it happens a little bit quicker than other guys.

People are also reading…

“But if you see talent in somebody, then you’ve got to give the young player the benefit of the doubt and allow them to mature and learn the game. … Sometimes it works out and sometimes it doesn’t quite work out for whatever reason.

“I think when you look for the traits (we want in a player), I think we’re very much on the same page of what we’re looking for. And what’s great about our relationship and where we’ve come (to), is just to have the debate. I never feel like it ever gets contentious. Sometimes you can agree to disagree, and you work through everything. We’re without a doubt on the same page and always working through if there are any differences in opinion.”

While the Packers have the same amount of intel on their guys as the rest of the league has on their players — except the Las Vegas Raiders and Jacksonville Jaguars, who played in the Pro Football Hall of Fame game and have four preseason games to use in their evaluations instead of three — Gutekunst acknowledged that the decision-making process is more challenging in his fifth training camp than it was in his first, when teams still played four preseason games and there were more camp practices.

At the same time, it beats 2020, when preseason games were canceled and training camp was truncated by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Yeah, I do think that there’s much less (information),” Gutekunst said. “I think in the past we were able to get through that grind period earlier (during training camp), and so guys got a little bit more in their comfort zone. But I think Matt does a really good job, intentionally as we approach these games to put guys in position to see what we need to see. But it’s not, there’s not as many opportunities as we’ve had in the past.”

Case in point: LaFleur said Saturday that the special-teams units’ problems against the Chiefs — the coverage units gave up a 45-yard kickoff return and 35-, 20- and 17-yard punt returns while the Packers’ own return units struggled — were caused in part because the coaches used a number of players whose special-teams abilities needed to be evaluated by the coaches and scouts.

“We certainly played a lot of guys, and that was by design. We wanted to get a good evaluation on each and every individual that could potentially contribute to our football team,” LaFleur said. “That’s been a big-time emphasis.”

Then, there’s the matter of Rodgers’ input. In 2020, Gutekunst cut former UW-Whitewater standout — and Rodgers favorite — Jake Kumerow, and the wide receiver’s release angered Rodgers to no end.

(Video) 565 - Will the Packers Add Any Outside Help?

In fact, it was the final straw for Rodgers in his frustration with Gutekunst not including him in certain personnel-related conversations and led to Rodgers skipping all of the 2021 offseason program to demonstrate his unhappiness.

Since Rodgers reported for training camp last summer, though, he and Gutekunst have both said that he’s being included in such discussions now. The true test of how much Rodgers’ opinions matter, though, likely will come with this final cutdown, as a player Rodgers has talked up all camp long — wide receiver Juwann Winfree — appears to be squarely on the roster bubble.

“I’m a big fan of Juwann Winfree,” Rodgers emphasized again during a sideline interview with the Packers TV network during the fourth quarter of Thursday night’s loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

Asked Saturday if Rodgers deserves a seat at the decision-making table going into Tuesday’s cuts, LaFleur replied, “Absolutely. I know that he’s engaged in a lot of conversations with myself, and he’s engaged in a lot of conversations with Gutey.

“I think that’s something over the next couple days that we’re just going to have to work through — his opinion, not only at the wide receiver position, but in particular the guys on offense. And also, I think he’s got a great feel for our locker room — and who really fits in well and who might not.”

Packers by position: Predicting which players will make the cut as Green Bay's roster shrinks to 53

QUARTERBACK (3)

Matt LaFleur, Brian Gutekunst are ‘on the same page’ as final cuts loom for Packers (2)

Locks: Aaron Rodgers (above left), Jordan Love (above right)

On the bubble: Danny Elting

Love’s improvement after two uninspiring summers has been among the biggest storylines of camp, but Etling is the one who has put on a show — completing 7 of 9 passes for 123 yards with a touchdown and no interceptions for a 155.8 passer rating and adding an electrifying 51-yard touchdown run last week against the Saints. Nevertheless, it’s unlikely to be enough to get him onto the 53-man roster. As in past years, the Packers prefer to carry only two quarterbacks on the active roster, with the third-stringer on the practice squad. Etling’s athleticism and potential make it an easy call to keep developing him.

“I think he’s done a really nice job,” head coach Matt LaFleur said of Etling. “Although he’s had limited reps, I feel like he’s maximized those when given those opportunities.”

RUNNING BACK (3 or 4)

Matt LaFleur, Brian Gutekunst are ‘on the same page’ as final cuts loom for Packers (3)

Locks: Aaron Jones (above left), AJ Dillon (above right)

Looking good: Tyler Goodson

On the bubble: Patrick Taylor, Dexter Williams

In-season PUP list: Kylin Hill

Goodson has put up the numbers through two games (115 total yards from scrimmage on 25 touches), and the burst he showed on his two longest plays (a 15-yard run and a 23-yard catch-and-run) is obvious. But Gutekunst emphasized that there’s more to making the roster as the No. 3 back, and that gives Taylor, a more experienced pass protector and special-teams contributor, more than a puncher’s chance at keeping the job. Hill, coming back from an ACL tear, is out at least the first four games.

“I think the next guy (after Jones and Dillon), obviously there’s some special teams that come into play with that. That’s going to be an important part of that third running back spot if we decide to keep three,” Gutekunst said. “The big jump from college to the National Football League is usually in pass pro(tection) for these guys, and being able to protect our passer is first and foremost.”

WIDE RECEIVER (6 or 7)

Matt LaFleur, Brian Gutekunst are ‘on the same page’ as final cuts loom for Packers (4)

Locks: Allen Lazard (above), Randall Cobb, Sammy Watkins, Romeo Doubs, Christian Watson

Looking good: Amari Rodgers

On the bubble: Juwann Winfree, Samori Toure

Long shots: Travis Fulgham, Ishmael Hyman

Just how good this group will turn out to be without departed superstar Davante Adams remains to be seen, but four-time NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers is at least saying the right things now about how dedicated Doubs and Watson are to doing things the way he wants them done, and how Watkins came on toward the end of camp. The biggest question here is what happens to Winfree, a former practice-squadder who will turn 26 before the opener and has eight career regular-season NFL receptions in 12 career games (165 career offensive snaps, 143 of which were last season). His quarterback’s praise makes Winfree sound like Jake Kumerow 2.0. “(With) these young kids that are coming in and playing well. I wouldn’t be surprised if (No.) 88’s over there going, ‘Hey, I’m a pretty damn good football player. Don’t forget about me,’” Rodgers said. “Because when he shows up and when he’s healthy, he makes a lot of plays.”

TIGHT END (4 or 5)

Matt LaFleur, Brian Gutekunst are ‘on the same page’ as final cuts loom for Packers (5)

Locks: Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan (above), Josiah Deguara

Looking good: Tyler Davis

On the bubble: Alizé Mack, Sal Cannella, Nate Becker

Davis’ involvement in a pair of turnover plays in the first two preseason games — an interception that ricocheted off his hands at San Francisco and a fumble (which perhaps should have been ruled incomplete) against New Orleans — has created a public perception that he’s going to get cut, and there’s no denying those two plays (coupled with some pre-snap penalties in practice and some blocking issues in games) haven’t been a good look for him. Nevertheless, he's still a scratching-the-surface player who was a college quarterback not too long ago, and he’s also a core special-teams player who coordinator Rich Bisaccia likes in that role. With the release of Dominique Dafney earlier in camp, it’s hard to see Gutekunst moving on from Davis.

“(You can’t) let plays like that really drag you down too much. Obviously, it’s just a great lesson for life,” Davis said. “Sometimes, stuff happens. Unfortunately, it’s happened to me, and you just put your head down and keep moving forward and keep working.”

OFFENSIVE LINE (9 or 10)

Matt LaFleur, Brian Gutekunst are ‘on the same page’ as final cuts loom for Packers (6)

Locks: David Bakhtiari (above), Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Jon Runyan Jr., Yosh Nijman

Looking good: Royce Newman, Jake Hanson, Zach Tom, Sean Rhyan

On the bubble: Caleb Jones

Long shots: Rasheed Walker, Michal Menet

Jenkins’ and Bakhtiari’s activations from the PUP list alter the dynamic up front considerably, as you’d expect with two All-Pro level players returning to action. The good news is that their absences gave the team’s many young linemen ample work in practice and games, which will help the coaches sort out their best five linemen entering the Sept. 11 opener. Jones is fascinating because he dropped a ton of weight, is a mountain of a man — he’s listed at 6-foot-9 and 379 pounds but said recently he’s down to 338 pounds — and has remarkable feet for a guy his size. Still, he’s a project who’s likely to be on the practice squad.

“Those guys have gotten a lot of great work. It hasn’t always been pretty,” LaFleur acknowledged when asked about the value of the young line’s extensive playing time and practice work against the Packers’ No. 1 defense. “They’re going up against a pretty good front (in practice) and those guys have taken their lumps, but I’ve also seen a lot of improvement as well. I think they’ve performed pretty well in our two preseason games, so we’re looking to continue to build upon that in this next preseason game.”

DEFENSIVE LINE (5)

Matt LaFleur, Brian Gutekunst are ‘on the same page’ as final cuts loom for Packers (7)

Locks: Kenny Clark (above), Jarran Reed, Dean Lowry, TJ Slaton, Devonte Wyatt

On the bubble: Jack Heflin, Jonathan Ford, Chris Slayton

Long shots: Akial Byers

Wyatt has had an unimpressive camp for a first-round pick, something he’s self-aware enough to acknowledge. The good news is, the Packers don’t need him to be a Clark clone just yet, and with the smart veteran pickup of Reed combined with Slaton’s ascension and Lowry’s steadiness, they’re in good shape here. Once the light clicks on for Wyatt, look out.

“I just think a lot of times when I get on the field, I'm like, ‘What’ve I got to do?' So I'm always all over the place. But once it all clicks in, it'll be better,” Wyatt said. “I'm not trying to put pressure on myself, but I am at the same time because I want to prove that I'm supposed to be here and I want to be one of the greats.”

OUTSIDE LINEBACKER (4 or 5)

Matt LaFleur, Brian Gutekunst are ‘on the same page’ as final cuts loom for Packers (8)

Locks: Preston Smith (above), Rashan Gary

Looking good: Kingsley Enagbare

On the bubble: Tipa Galeai, Jonathan Garvin, La’Darius Hamilton, Kobe Jones

All camp long, the search for a third, fourth and fifth edge rusher has been a priority, and each of the youngsters in the mix has had his moments. Enagbare, a fifth-round pick, has come on lately, as has Jones. Special teams will be a factor here, which helps Galeai more than anyone. Still, what this group does against the Chiefs could be what separates the keepers from the also-rans.

“Of course, we’ve got two great ones in Preston and Rashan, but after that, it’s competitive,” defensive coordinator Joe Barry said. “It’s going to go right down to the wire.”

INSIDE LINEBACKER (3 or 4)

Matt LaFleur, Brian Gutekunst are ‘on the same page’ as final cuts loom for Packers (9)

Locks: De’Vondre Campbell (above), Quay Walker

Looking good: Krys Barnes, Isaiah McDuffie

On the bubble: Ty Summers, Ray Wilborn

As crazy as it sounds, this might be the Packers’ best top-to-bottom position of depth on their roster. Campbell is a first-team All-Pro, Walker is a first-round pick, McDuffie has had one of the best camps of anyone on the team and Barnes is no slouch as a former starter and special teams contributor. Summers, a key special-teams player over the past three years, might be the odd man out, and if he is, he could get claimed by another team. All that said, McDuffie’s improvement has been one of the best surprises of camp.

“He’s done a hell of a job, and (with his) knowledge of the game, he’s really grown,” LaFleur said. “You definitely feel his presence on (special) teams, and that’s what we need from him.”

CORNERBACK (6)

Matt LaFleur, Brian Gutekunst are ‘on the same page’ as final cuts loom for Packers (10)

Locks: Jaire Alexander (above), Rasul Douglas, Eric Stokes

Looking good: Keisean Nixon, Shemar Jean-Charles

On the bubble: Kabion Ento, Rico Gafford, Kiondre Thomas

The top three might prove to be the NFL’s best trio, but it’s been competitive behind them. Nixon and Jean-Charles have both shown they belong on the roster, but don’t discount Thomas, who has also had some statement-making moments. Gafford, meanwhile, is a speedster who’s played both corner and wide receiver and whose familiarity with Bisaccia’s special-teams system and return abilities are also a plus.

“He’s a very explosive guy. He can really run,” LaFleur said of Gafford. “He’s a guy that definitely can give us some speed on special teams, and that’s what you typically need your fourth and fifth corners for.”

SAFETY (5)

Matt LaFleur, Brian Gutekunst are ‘on the same page’ as final cuts loom for Packers (11)

Locks: Adrian Amos (above), Darnell Savage

Looking good: Shawn Davis, Innis Gaines

On the bubble: Dallin Leavitt, Micah Abernathy, Tariq Carpenter

Longshot: De’Vante Cross

Vernon Scott, who had started the first two preseason games and was in position to be Savage’s replacement if Savage’s hamstring issue continues to linger, was waived/injured this week, presumably because the shoulder injury he sustained against New Orleans will shelve him for quite a while. Still, it was a surprise given how he’d filled in for Savage, and his departure leaves the competition wide open, with Abernathy, fresh off playing in the USFL this spring, as an interesting option. His interception against the Saints was impressive and was the kind of play a late-in-camp addition to the roster needs to make to turn heads. Leavitt's status after his shoulder injury is also a factor.

“I feel like I showed that I could play fast and I feel like I have a lot left in me,” Abernathy said. “I just got off a season. I feel like I’m in shape. I feel like I can play. I just wanted to go out there and prove that. I felt like I did, hopefully.”

SPECIALISTS (3)

Matt LaFleur, Brian Gutekunst are ‘on the same page’ as final cuts loom for Packers (12)

Lock: Pat O’Donnell (above)

Looking good: Mason Crosby

On the bubble: Jack Coco, Ramiz Ahmed

Crosby is still on the PUP list but it’s obviously his kicking job when his right (kicking) knee is green-lit for game action. He’s been kicking as part of his comeback in recent days and is confident he’ll be good to go for Week 1. If for some reason he isn’t, Ahmed has impressed after previous kickers (JJ Molson, Dominik Eberle, Gabe Brkic) in his position did not. The real question here — not including figuring out who the best return options are — is whether the inexperienced Coco, with his circuitous route to the NFL, is the best option as the snapper.

“I think Jack's done a nice job for us so far,” Gutekunst said. “But by the time we kick off that first Sunday and as we go through the season, if that's not where we want it to be, then we'll be looking for (a replacement). And there's always guys available. Right now, we feel pretty good about where we're at. But if we can upgrade and get better, we will.”

Tags

  • Pro-football
  • Green Bay Packers
  • New Orleans Saints
  • Nfl Preseason
  • Matt Lafleur
  • Jordan Love

Get local news delivered to your inbox!

Related to this story

Watch now: Packers add talent on both sides of the ball in the 2022 NFL Draft

Get to know all 11 players taken by the Green Bay Packers in the 2022 NFL Draft in Las Vegas.

Watch Now: Related Video

Wisconsin volleyball coach Kelly Sheffield and Gulce Guctekin discuss improvement while serving

See the view from Bucky’s Balcony at the UW Field House

See the view from Bucky’s Balcony at the UW Field House

Wisconsin's offense gets a boost from chunk plays against Illinois State

Wisconsin's offense gets a boost from chunk plays against Illinois State

Watch now: Badgers QB Graham Mertz on his performance against Illinois State

Watch now: Badgers QB Graham Mertz on his performance against Illinois State

FAQs

How much do the Packers pay Matt LaFleur? ›

Matt LaFleur, $5 million

The Green Bay Packers won 13 games in each of his first three seasons, losing in the NFC title game in 2020 and 2021.

Who did the Packers cut today? ›

The team waived six players with injuries: receiver Ishmael Hyman, tight ends Nate Becker and Alize Mack, defensive lineman Akiel Byers and safeties Innis Gaines and Shawn Davis.

Does Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur get along? ›

Aaron Rodgers and his future with the Green Bay Packers

However, Rodgers wants to be a one-man-army and get the Packers over the line this time. Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur share an amicable relationship with one another.

Who's the head coach of the Green Bay Packers? ›

GREEN BAY – Head Coach Matt LaFleur addressed the media on Saturday, two days after the Packers' preseason finale, and two days before final roster cuts must be made.

Who is the highest paid coach in college football? ›

1. Nick Saban, Alabama. Nick Saban remains the highest paid coach in College Football. Eleven days before the start of the 2022 college football season, Saban received a contract extension set to pay him over $11 million on an annual basis.

Who did the Packers cut to get down to 53? ›

Here's who the Green Bay Packers released, cutting to 53-man roster: Jack Heflin, Juwann Winfree, Tyler Goodson among them.

What wide receiver did the Green Bay Packers cut? ›

– The Green Bay Packers released receiver Juwann Winfree on Tuesday morning, a source said in confirming a report by NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. The move was part of the team's cuts to establish a 53-man roster. While not as vociferous as his support for Jake Kumerow in 2020, Winfree had a supporter in Aaron Rodgers.

Did the Packers get rid of Mason Crosby? ›

37-year-old kicker Mason Crosby, who had his struggles last season, is expected to be back. And according to Packers GM Brian Gutekunst, there was never a discussion of Crosby losing his job in 2021. Per Packers beat writer Ryan Wood, "Brian Gutekunst says he was never close to making a kicker change last season."

Is Aaron Rodgers gonna retire? ›

While he made it clear he'll eventually hang it up while donning the green and gold, Rodgers is simply focused on the 2022 season and realizes that how any campaign plays out will prove pivotal in his decision to continue playing or retire.

Is Aaron Rodgers in a relationship? ›

July 16, 2021: Shailene Woodley reveals why she and Aaron Rodgers waited to announce their engagement.

What did Matt LaFleur say? ›

Matt LaFleur Says Packers' Error on 49ers' Game-Winning Field Goal 'Can't Happen' Green Bay Packers head coach Matt LaFleur took responsibility for his team's special teams blunder at the end of Saturday's 13-10 loss to the San Francisco 49ers in the NFC divisional round.

What was Vince Lombardi's famous quote about winning? ›

Winning is not a sometime thing…it's an all the time thing. You don't win once in a while…you don't do the right thing once in a while…you do them right all the time. Winning is a habit.”

Did Aaron Rodgers cut his hair? ›

The four-time NFL MVP quarterback added another to his resume with a new haircut. He left all the hair from his long locks on top and buzzed the sides to give him an interesting new appearance for Sunday's game against the Bears. What pushed Rodgers over the edge to get a fresh cut?

Have the Packers ever had a black head coach? ›

On January 11, 1999, Rhodes was hired to coach the Packers after being the only candidate to interview for the position. Rhodes's tenure as head coach lasted only one season. The Packers finished 8-8, their only non-winning season between 1992 and 2004.

How much does a NFL cheerleader make? ›

How much does an average NFL cheerleader make per game? Surprisingly, NFL cheerleaders do not earn as much as you might think. On average, the cheerleaders earn about $150 per game. This comes out to about $22,500 per year.

How much do NFL refs make? ›

It is also important to note that the quoted figure of $205,000 per year is the average for officials, not just the recognized NFL head referees. Therefore, the average salary for NFL refs could be slightly higher.

Who is the richest NFL player? ›

Staubach led his team to the Super Bowl five times. He also led the Cowboys to victories in Super Bowl VI and Super Bowl XII. Staubach was named Most Valuable Player of Super Bowl VI. As of October 2022, Roger Staubach's net worth is $600 million, making him the richest NFL player in the world.

What is Bill Belichick salary? ›

Coming it at number two is Bill Belichick, who is making $12.5 million per season. His six Super Bowl rings likely are a large factor in his pay.

What is Aaron Rodgers salary? ›

The new contract that Rodgers and the Packers signed changes things significantly. The deal is officially viewed as a three-year. $150.815 million contract extension. That includes a reported incredible, fully-guaranteed, base salary of $59.5 million in 2023 and $49.3 million that is not guaranteed in 2024.

What is Nick Saban's salary? ›

The 70-year-old coaching icon also received a bump in salary. Saban will make $9.8 million in base salary this year. He will make nearly $13 million in his final year of the deal. There will also be a contract completion benefit of $800,000 payable at the end of 2022, 2023, 2024, and 2025 contract years.

How Much Does Aaron Rodgers make? ›

The new deal bumps up his pay this season while lowering the cap figure. The Packers' quarterback is set to earn $42 million in 2022, $59.515 million in 2023 and $49.3 million in 2024, per Pelissero, getting him to the three-year, $150.815 million mark.

Top Articles

You might also like

Latest Posts

Article information

Author: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Last Updated: 10/12/2022

Views: 5579

Rating: 5 / 5 (50 voted)

Reviews: 81% of readers found this page helpful

Author information

Name: Dr. Pierre Goyette

Birthday: 1998-01-29

Address: Apt. 611 3357 Yong Plain, West Audra, IL 70053

Phone: +5819954278378

Job: Construction Director

Hobby: Embroidery, Creative writing, Shopping, Driving, Stand-up comedy, Coffee roasting, Scrapbooking

Introduction: My name is Dr. Pierre Goyette, I am a enchanting, powerful, jolly, rich, graceful, colorful, zany person who loves writing and wants to share my knowledge and understanding with you.