The Green Bay Packers just finished a very successful 2019 season. Although they didn’t reach the Super Bowl,  the season was still a major success. But now that the Packers season has concluded, there are some major decisions to make. Upgrading certain positions with possible outside free agents will be on the mind of most Packers fans. But there are decisions to be made about the Packers own free agents. Today, we will be Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst and make predictions on which Packers will return for 2020.

In the Mind of Brian Gutekunst for Deciding Future of Packers Free Agents

Going into this off-season, the Packers have one restricted free agent and five exclusive right free agents. The list includes some interesting names. But for this piece, we will concentrate on the unrestricted free agents.

The Packers have 15 unrestricted free agents. There are several that are locks not to return, but there are others with some major questions. Gutekunst and his staff will have some difficult decisions to make this off-season.  Gutekunst will not only need to determine which players can help next season but also determine if they have any value for the future.

Here is the list of the 15 players and our predictions of what Gutekunst and his staff might do.

Bryan Bulaga – RT

Bryan Bulaga will arguably be the most talked-about unrestricted free agent for the Packers. A ten-year veteran, Bulaga has been a mainstay, when healthy, at right tackle on the Packers offensive line. He has battled injuries throughout his career. But this season, he was able to start a full 16 game regular season schedule. Which was only the second time in his career.

Not only was he able to start a full regular-season schedule, but his play was also solid. While he started 16 games, he still dealt with injuries. That is why the decision to re-sign him is so difficult. It isn’t if he will get injured, but when. When healthy, he has been one of the best starting right tackles in the NFL.

Compounding the decision is that the Packers don’t have a backup tackle that can step into Bulaga’s position. Some have speculated that starting right guard Billy Turner might be able to do that. But Turner shored up the starting right guard position this season. To move him would weaken the continuity of the whole offensive line. They could draft a replacement in this year’s NFL draft. But asking a rookie to step in and protect Aaron Rodgers would be asking a lot.

If the Packers do re-sign Bulaga, they will need to find a capable backup. To not only groom him to take over for Bulaga but to step in for him when he was to go down next season.

The best-case scenario for the Packers would be to re-sign Bulaga to a short term contract. A contract that won’t break the bank either. It might be a tough task, but it is one that makes the most sense.

Verdict:  Packers Re-Sign to a Short Term Contract

Jared Veldheer – OT

Jared Veldheer was quite an in-season pickup by Brian Gutekunst this season. It had appeared that Veldheer would retire this season. But he changed his mind and decided that he wanted to play. When the New England Patriots relinquished his rights, the Packers snatched him up.

Much like Bulaga, Veldheer is another ten-year veteran. He was quite valuable for the Packers this season. In the last game of the season, Bulaga departed with a concussion. Veldheer stepped in and he played superbly. He did the same in the Packers playoff victory over the Seattle Seahawks. When Bulaga was forced out of action because of the flu, Veldheer once again stepped in. His play helped the Packers offense and was a big part of the Packers victory.

Even if Brian Gutekunst re-signs Bulaga, re-signing Veldheer might be the proper move. Bulaga’s injury history shows that the Packers need a capable backup tackle. Veldheer showed last season he can be that player. Not only can he step in at right tackle, but he has experience on the left side as well.

If Bulaga demands too much money, Veldheer might be a possible stopgap player. That would give the Packers the option of drafting a tackle in the draft and let him sit behind Veldheer for a season. There are some questions if he even wants to play next season. He almost retired this season so retirement might be on his mind.

Verdict:  Packers Re-Sign

Blake Martinez – ILB

When it comes to Blake Martinez, you will hear a lot about how many tackles he has made for the Packers defense. You will also hear how he is the general of the Packers defense. Both are true, but both don’t tell you the whole story.

Martinez has made the most of his undersized stature and his slower speed. He has a place on an NFL defense, but not as a number one inside linebacker. While he does make a lot of tackles, a lot of those tackles are after gains. He also doesn’t make enough game-changing plays as a top linebacker. The Packers defense struggled against the run and covering opposing tight ends. That falls on Martinez.

Many have speculated that he will get a big payday on the open market. For Brian Gutekunst, that big number should help make his decision.

Verdict:  Packers Don’t Re-Sign

Tramon Williams, Cornerback

Tramon Williams has been a very good Green Bay Packer. In his first go-around with the Packers, he was a big part of a defense that helped win the Packers a Super Bowl. In his second time around, he has been a valuable leader and has stepped in wherever the Packers have needed him.

Next season Williams will be 37 years old. Williams wasn’t a weak link by any means last season, but age might be catching up with him. The emergence of Chandon Sullivan should lessen the blow of Williams possible departure. Also, the Packers will need to determine if Josh Jackson can be a contributor.  Jackson struggled to make it on the field this season. But Brian Gutekunst did spend a second-round pick on him in his first season as the Packers general manager. With Williams out of the way, Jackson could be given a chance to see if he can actually play.

Verdict:  Packers Don’t Re-Sign. Possible Retirement.

Geronimo Allison, Wide Receiver

Geronimo Allison had a career-best 34 receptions this season. But while he caught the most passes of his career, his play was very disappointing. With Randall Cobb departed, it was expected that Allison would fill the slot receiver position. Unfortunately for Matt LaFleur, Allison couldn’t fill Cobb’s shoes.

He struggled with drops throughout the season. While he was a solid blocker, that isn’t what he is paid for. He wasn’t alone, many of the Packers receivers failed to contribute. Their play helped Wide Receivers’ coach Alvis Whitted lose his job.

Brian Gutekunst needs to improve the wide receiver position. It doesn’t appear that Allison will be a part of those improvements.

Verdict:  Packers Don’t Re-Sign

Mason Crosby, Kicker

Kicking at Lambeau Field in the elements isn’t an easy task. For most kickers, it is their nightmare to kick at Lambeau in December with the wind swirling and the snow coming down. But for Mason Crosby, he has made a career out of it.

He has battled some downs in his career. But he has bounced back and has been a kicker that the Packers can depend on. He is 35 years old but he is still producing like he is much younger.  It would be a risk to bring in a much younger kicker who doesn’t understand Lambeau Field like Crosby does. The special teams finally played at a respectable level. Cutting ties with Crosby would set the special teams unit back.

Verdict:  Packers Re-Sign

Marcedes Lewis, Tight End

While looking at Marcedes Lewis stats you would think that not re-signing him would be a no brainer for Brian Gutekunst. But his 15 catches for 156 yards with one touchdown doesn’t tell the whole story with Lewis.

The now 35-year-old veteran tight end brought more to this Packers roster. He was a veteran voice for the Packers offense, something that was needed. But he was also a solid blocker for the Packers. With his veteran leadership and his ability to block, there is a place for Lewis on the Packers 2020 roster. Especially since he most likely will only demand the veteran minimum salary.

It also helps that he is a favorite of the starting quarterback.

Verdict:  Packers Re-Sign

Kyler Fackrell, Outside Linebacker

Kyler Fackrell was the primary backup to starting outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith. While Fackrell only registred one sack this season, he did a solid job when he was called on.  In 2018, Fackrell registered 10 1/2 sacks. But his numbers, and snaps, dropped when Brian Gutekunst signed the Smiths.

In most cases, Fackrell would be a no brainer to re-sign. But the Packers spent the 12th overall pick in last year’s draft on Rashan Gary. Gary saw limited time this season. But it seemed that was the Packers plan. To let him sit and learn from the Smiths. But next season, they will need to take off the training wheels. Spending a high first-round pick on Gary, he will need to see more playing time. That would mean letting Fackrell depart and make Gary the primary backup to the Smiths.

Verdict:  Packers Don’t Re-sign

Will Redmond, Safety

With a strong training camp, Will Redmond won himself a spot on the Packers 2019 53 man roster. This season, he played in 13 games and started four of them. During his time, he registered 19 solo tackles and played a lot on special teams.

But Brian Gutekunst is trying to figure out a puzzle. Every player is a piece and he has to make sure that piece fits. Redmond can be a contributor on special teams and can chip in when needed on defense. But Gutekunst very easily could find a rookie, who would earn less, to fill Redmond’s spot.

Verdict:  Packers Don’t Re-sign

Ibraheim Campbell, Safety/Linebacker

Ibraheim Campbell was activated during the season after coming back from an injury he suffered late in 2018. A natural safety, he saw quite a bit of time as an undersized linebacker this season. It helped that he had experience playing for defensive coordinator Mike Pettine. While being a favorite of Pettine’s might have helped last season, it isn’t going to help Campbell’s chances with being on the Packers roster for 2020.

Pettine appears to be on shaky ground after, arguably, the Packers defense underachieved this season. Campbell is valuable since he can play safety, inside linebacker, and can contribute on special teams. But the Packers have a younger option that can do everything Campbell can do. Raven Greene is that player and appears more explosive than Campbell is.

Verdict:  Packers Don’t Re-sign

Danny Vitale, Fullback

The Packers only carried one fullback on their roster and that was Danny Vitale. While the Packers didn’t run a lot of two-back sets, he did see a decent amount of time.  He had seven receptions for 97 yards as well out of the backfield.

It seems that LaFleur likes having a fullback on his roster.  Vitale seems like a very good fit and he plays a lot on the Packers special teams. It would seem that Vitale will be returning in 2020.

Verdict: Packers Re-sign

BJ Goodson, Inside Linebacker

Late in training camp, Brian Gutekunst made a trade with the New York Giants to bring in BJ Goodson. Goodson played in 15 games, starting nine of them, and registered 22 solo tackles. His role was primarily used on running downs. He was a decent run stuffer but didn’t bring much in pass coverage.

The Packers defense needs to get more athletic at inside linebacker. Like with Martinez, Goodson is limited in athletic ability. While solid against the run, and a contributor on special teams, it appears that the Packers will be moving on from Goodson.

Verdict:  Packers Don’t Re-sign

Tyler Erving, Running Back/Returner

While a guest on the Sconnie Jonny podcast, the subject of Tyler Ervin returning was brought up. At the time, the idea of bringing back Ervin seemed like a no brainer. When Brian Gutekunst picked up Ervin during the season, he seemed like a gift from God. He stabilized the punt and kickoff return position. He also became a contributor on offense late in the season.

But while Ervin was solid, he wasn’t by any means electric. Gutekunst needs to decide if he wants more out of the returner position. This year’s draft is loaded with wide receivers. Some of those prospects are returners and they are quite electric. It will be a tough decision. But we think the Packers return game can get better with somebody new manning the position.

Verdict:  Packers Don’t Re-sign

Ryan Grant, Wide Receiver, Jason Spriggs, Offensive Tackle

When Davante Adams went out with a toe injury early in the season, the Packers signed wide receiver Ryan Grant. But Grant never got onto the field. That doesn’t say much with the Packers not getting many contributions out of receivers not named Adams or Allen Lazard. Again, with Brian Gutekunst looking to upgrade the wide receiver, Grant doesn’t appear to be in the Packers plans.

I have to be honest, I didn’t even know that Jason Spriggs was still on the Packers roster. But technically, he is. Spriggs is a former second-round pick of the Packers. In fact, former general manager Ted Thompson traded up to pick him. While some Packers podcasters considered him a solid NFL offensive tackle, we disagree. Spriggs was given chances to win the backup tackle position. But every time he was given a chance, he failed. He struggled on the left side, the right side, and even in limited time at guard. Not only will the Packers not re-sign Spriggs, we believe he will never play another snap in a regular-season NFL game again.

Verdict on Grant and Spriggs:  Packers Don’t Re-sign