It’s been heavily reported that the Green Bay Packers have interest in pursuing ILB Nick Kwiatkoski. The Packers have a clear need at the position with their leading tackler, Blake Martinez, set to hit free agency. After the 49ers exposed the Packers’ weak interior in the NFC championship, inserting a banger like Kwiatkoski makes a lot of sense. It’s something I have feared happening for a while now. More importantly, the Packers are now hitting a streak. This will be the third consecutive year they will attempt to sign a Chicago Bears free agent.
2018 – Kyle Fuller
In 2018, the Bears placed the Transition Tag on Fuller to let the market decide his value. What they didn’t know was that the Packers would be a major player in setting it. Brad Biggs’s tweet was at 2:49 PM on March 16th and Ian Rapoport quote tweeted it three minutes after. The Packers drafted cornerbacks Kevin King and Josh Jackson in the second round of the 2017 and 2018 drafts in addition to Jaire Alexander in the first round of the 2018 draft. This wasn’t a tactical move for the Packers. They weren’t trying to drive up his market. The Packers wanted Kyle Fuller. Luckily the Bears made the right move and retained Fuller, who has gone on to receive Pro Bowl and All-Pro honors.
2019 – Adrian Amos
This one hurts a little more. In the picture above, Adrian Amos is ripping the soul out of Chicago Bears’ fans and is foreshadowing the disappointment that would be felt throughout 2020 season. Amos was valued by the Bears but also under-appreciated. Even as I type this out, I find myself guilty of it. Amos was solid. He was great in underneath coverage but didn’t have the greatest ball skills. He has the ability to hover around the box and is a sure tackler. All that said, it still seemed like $8 million a year is a lot for a solid safety, even if he fit the Bears defense perfectly. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix is more of a playmaker than Amos, but Amos and Jackson produced more as a duo. Amos and Jackson forced nine turnovers and scored three touchdowns in 2018. Clinton-Dix and Jackson forced seven turnovers and accounted for one touchdown in 2019. Those stats don’t tell the whole story, but it does help draw one conclusion. Eddie Jackson dropped into the box a lot this season, and while it may have helped round his skill set as a safety, it’s time to put him back in centerfield. Jackson was just paid like a ballhawk safety, so the Bears have to use him like one.
2020 – Nick Kwiatkoski
Every defense needs an element of boom and Kwiatkoski brings that. Danny Trevathan‘s injury gave Kwiatkoski just enough time to put out tape and showcase his ability. His stock is way up, and even though the Bears plan to prioritize Kwiat, they may still lose him. We don’t know what is going on with the CBA and how much the salary cap will increase, but the Bears should have a minimum of $34 million as they enter the new league year. The Bears currently have $24 million in cap space and the salary cap has gone up a minimum of $10 million over the past six years. If the Bears don’t ‘have enough money’ to sign Kwiatkoski, the Packers shouldn’t either. They currently have $17 (est. $27) million in cap space and OT Bryan Bulaga is set to hit free agency with a market value of $10 million. If the Packers prioritize Kwiatkoski it’s financially possible, but they’d have to believe they were an ILB away from winning the Super Bowl. Their budget would be super tight for the next couple of years.
The Packers may attempt to poach another Bear this offseason and it’s bittersweet. On one hand, it’s infuriating to see a Chicago-bred player wearing green and yellow, on the other hand, it shows how the Packers haven’t drafted well in recent history. They don’t have much wiggle room financially and it looks like Aaron Rodgers will keep declining. Even though they flashed in 2019, this offseason could be their last push for a Super Bowl before a rebuild. Their free-agent signings from 2019 look good so far, but if their 2019 and 2020 draft classes don’t pan out, they’ll have stacked five weak draft classes together. You can’t build a team through free agency.