GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers are operating in a finite championship window. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers signed a new deal this offseason, but the 38-year-old playing even three more years after considering retirement is suspect. And the offense is now tasked with replacing dynamic receiver Davante Adams, after he was traded to the Las Vegas Raiders.
Former Packers safety and newly elected Pro Football Hall of Famer LeRoy Butler knows a thing or two about what it takes to win the Lombardi Trophy, having played for Green Bay’s 1996 Super Bowl champions. And Butler advises fans to trust those building the roster that will chase a championship.
“I would tell them not to panic as yet. Because some people are thinking because you’ve lost so much on offense, you can’t get to the Super Bowl. I would be patient and give the team room enough to get it right, ”Butler said this week at the Red Smith Awards banquet in Appleton.
“I trust (General Manager Brian) Gutekunst to get it right and (President) Mark Murphy.”
A big hurdle on the Packers’ path to a Super Bowl is how to replace Adams. The eight year veteran finished the 2021 season with 123 receptions on 169 targets for 1,553 yards and 11 touchdowns. Butler, who was a part of the 1996 Super Bowl team, wants to see a veteran receiver stepping in next to Randall Cobb, Allen Lazard and newly signed Sammy Watkins.
“I advocated openly that I would trade for (Seattle Seahawks receiver) DK Metcalf or (the New Orleans Saints’) Michael Thomas,” Butler said. “Or at one point they wanted (Houston Texan) Will Fuller.”
Metcalf and Thomas would likely require new deals if signed. Fuller played in only two games last season due to injury. Still, Butler believes those are good chances to take if the Packers want to capitalize on this championship window. And after gaining some wiggle room in the salary-cap situation with the Adams trade, Butler sees the opportunity to strike now.
“If it were me, I’d be on the phone with the Saints trying to get Michael Thomas, has three years left of a four-year deal. If it was me, I’d trade for DK Metcalf and when you bring him in here I’d sign him to an extension, the one that Davante didn’t sign. Now you can draft whoever you want, it’s no pressure. ”
Sea: Tom Clements thought his NFL coaching career was over. Then Aaron Rodgers called
Silverstein: Jordan Love needs to start over again proving himself to Packers
Dougherty: Everyone knows the Packers need receivers, but what are their other draft priorities?
Without a veteran receiver to compliment the rest of the corps, Butler foresees a lot of pressure on Rodgers and the offense.
“I just don’t know if the babies can (replace Adams), that’s what I call the rookies; I don’t know if three rookies coming in screams Super Bowl, ”Butler said. “It might, but the Rams won it by (signing) veterans. And I think, my opinion, humbly that’s how you get to a Super Bowl. Because you’re on a three-year fast track because of Aaron Rodgers’ contract. After that anything can happen.
“The pressure to get it right with Aaron Rodgers is a lot. I mean, let’s be honest, for Aaron Rodgers to come in the offseason, from wherever he is, some Amazon somewhere looking at a rare beetle, I don’t know, for him to fly back to work with two young guys in the first round, I just don’t know if that’s the reason why they signed him to an unprecedented $ 153 million guaranteed contract. ”
The Packers have two extra picks in the upcoming NFL draft, a first- and second-rounder, courtesy of the Raiders in the Adams trade. They also could sign or trade for another veteran receiver.
“I would tell the fans to be patient,” Butler said. “Winning is fun, but you got to get it right because we’re looking for a parade. We’re not just looking for winning games anymore.”