Green Bay Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst started his tenure running the show with a dud of a free agent signing in 2018.
Which free agent signing would Packers GM Brian Gutekunst most like to have back?
He’s only been in the job for a few years, so there aren’t too many options, but one definitely stands out.
The Jimmy Graham experiment didn’t exactly pay off.
What happened between the Packers and Jimmy Graham?
When Gutekunst took over as the Packers general manager in 2018, he made a splash with a high-profile free agent signing at tight end.
Graham was coming off two Pro Bowl seasons with the Seahawks. Green Bay wanted to upgrade at the position to help out Aaron Rodgers. It seemed worth a shot.
The trouble is, the Packers paid Graham like the best tight end in the NFL. That’s not what they got.
Sure, Graham had 1,083 yards and five touchdowns in two seasons, but when you’re paying someone $30 million over three years, you expect more than that. You expect a serious threat in the passing attack. You expect double-digit touchdown totals and big-time contributions.
The 32-year-old was targeted 89 times in 2018 and caught just 55 passes for 636 yards and two touchdowns.
When he followed up that disappointing campaign with a mere 38 catches for 447 yards and three touchdowns, the Packers decided to cut bait. He wasn’t contributing enough as a blocker to offset his waning production in the passing game.
They released him to avoid paying him another $8 million in 2020.
That, at least, was the right decision. Tight end Robert Tonyan ended up catching 55 passes for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns for a fraction of what Graham was owed.
The moral of the story is if you make a big mistake by making a player the highest paid at their position, know when to cut your losses.