GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The Green Bay Packers ended their offseason program on Thursday. Here's how they fared:
Offseason goals: Improve the defense. Yes, that's been a goal more or less every offseason since 2011. This overhaul started the day after last season ended, when coach Mike McCarthy fired Dom Capers after nine seasons as defensive coordinator. Mike Pettine proved to be a popular hire among the veteran players and brought with him a tough-guy reputation that made him successful with the Ravens and Jets while working with Rex Ryan.
How they fared: Above average
Move I liked: Pettine might turn out to be the best move of all, but the bigger-picture move was the removal of Ted Thompson as general manager followed by the hiring of Brian Gutekunst to replace him. It set up an offseason that included some key free-agent signings and a defense-heavy (specifically cornerback-heavy) top of the draft. If Pettine's style of defense can be labeled as "aggressive," the same can be said for Gutekunst's approach to player acquisition.
Move I didn't like: Setting up a Vikings-like triangle of authority. The Packers' success since 1992 has always come under the same structure: The president hires and fires the GM, the GM hires and fires the coach. That's no longer the case. Team president Mark Murphy now oversees three key people: Gutekunst, McCarthy and salary-cap/contract negotiator Russ Ball. That means Murphy has the final say on McCarthy. Hall of Fame GM Ron Wolf never would have agreed to work under such an arrangement, and previous team president Bob Harlan, who hired Wolf to start the franchise's turnaround, never would have put such a structure in place. While Gutekunst signed a five-year deal, McCarthy has only one more year left on his contract after this season. In recent years, the coach and GM have had contracts that run concurrently.
Biggest question still to be answered in training camp: If quarterback Aaron Rodgers' contract extension isn't done by the start of camp, that will be a recurring question. But as far as on-field issues, there's much to be settled on defense: Where will the pass rush come from other than Clay Matthews and Nick Perry? How will the secondary lineup shake out? Which draft picks will make an immediate impact? Of course, none of this matters if Rodgers suffers another major injury like he did last season, when he broke his collarbone.
Quotable: "The same motivation that I've always had. It's to be a great player, to be reliable, to be consistent and to be available. To be on the field for all 16 games. Obviously, I wasn't there last year, so it was disappointing, but there's things you can control and things you can't control. We'll try to control the things to get myself ready to go and ready to play 16 games." -- Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers
Salary-cap space: $10,886,957 (Source: NFLPA)
2018 draft picks: 1. CB Jaire Alexander (Louisville) 2. CB Josh Jackson (Iowa) 3. LB Oren Burks (Vanderbilt) 4. WR J'Mon Moore (Missouri) 5. G/T Cole Madison (Washington State) 5. P JK Scott (Alabama) 5. WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling (South Florida) 6. WR Equanimeous St. Brown (Notre Dame) 7. DT James Looney (Cal) 7. LS Hunter Bradley (Mississippi State) 7. OLB Kendall Donnerson (Southeast Missouri State)
Undrafted rookie free agents signed: QB Tim Boyle (Eastern Kentucky), C Austin Davis (Duke), DT Tyler Lancaster (Northwestern), DE Conor Sheehy (Wisconsin), LB C.J. Johnson (East Texas Baptist), T Kyle Meadows (Kentucky), LB Marcus Porter (Fairmont State), TE Kevin Rader (Youngstown State), S Raven Greene (James Madison), LB Naashon Hughes (Texas), T/G Alex Light (Richmond), LB Parris Bennett (Syracuse), TE Ryan Smith (Miami-Ohio), LB Greer Martini (Notre Dame)
Players acquired via trade: QB DeShone Kizer (Browns)