WHAT'S NEXT: Green Bay Packers

WHAT'S NEXT: Green Bay Packers

After narrowly missing the playoffs, the Packers hit the offseason with plenty of question marks, an overage of salary cap (-$17M at the time of this piece), & a decision to be made at both QB1 & QB2 in the coming months.

Notable Team Needs

Based on the positional breakdown below, the 2023 Packers appear to be thinnest at:

  • Quarterback (potentially)
  • Wide Receiver (behind the youth)
  • Tight End
  • Offensive Tackle (potentially both)
  • Safety
  • Kicker

Potential Roster Bubbles or Restructures

The Quarterback Room

Another will he won’t he offseason for Aaron Rodgers drives the Packers’ decision making process. There’s a $58.3M option bonus attached to his 2023 compensation ($59.515M total) which will need to be delayed until Green Bay understands how things will move forward.

Assuming Rodgers decides to return for a 19th season with the Packers, Green Bay will exercise that option, keeping his 2023 cap figure at $31.6M (with no additional restructuring available).

If Rodgers requests a trade, there are two options: Before June 1st, and after. The former has more cap pain, but the latter means no 2023 draft picks can be acquired. Assuming Rodgers is moved early in the offseason, the Packers will take on a dead cap hit of $40,313,568, all in 2023, losing $8.69M of cap space this year. If the deal is struck after 6/1, (and assuming the option bonus hasn’t been exercised yet), Green Bay will take on a $15,833,568 dead cap hit in 2023, with another $24,480,000 slated for 2024. The Packers would save $15.79M in 2023 with this move, but not until June 2nd. All of these numbers also apply should Aaron Rodgers retire this offseason.

For those wondering, Rodgers would bring a $15.79M cap figure with him to a new team in 2023, then $32.5M, $51.1M, & $45.2M through 2026. If he were to retire after 2023, he’d leave behind a $43.725M dead cap hit in 2024.

Green Bay also enters a decision year for Jordan Love, who enters Year 4 of his rookie contract, set to earn a fully guaranteed $2.2M. The Packers will need to decide on Love’s 2024 5th-year option, projected to cost around $22M, by May 2nd. If they exercise it, the entire salary becomes fully guaranteed immediately. If they decline it, Love will be eligible for unrestricted free agency next March.

The Running Back Room

28-year-old Aaron Jones enters Year 3 of his 4 year, $48M contract, set to earn $16M on a $20.02M cap hit next season. There’s a $7M roster bonus due March 17th that puts some pressure on Green Bay to decide on his immediate future, as a trade or outright release here can free up $10.4M of space. Jones compiled 1,500+ yards from scrimmage in 2022, but his total TDs (7) were down, & his fumbles (5) were a career high. If the plan is to keep him, a full salary conversion + 1 new void year can open up $11.2M of space.

A.J. Dillon enters a contract year, set to earn a non-guaranteed $1.3M on a $1.6M cap hit. While his overall numbers were a bit down in 2022, he found the end zone a career high 7 times. If Green Bay moves on from Jones and gives Dillon the keys this season, it’s likely his contractual floor starts at James Conner’s $7M mark.

The Wide Receiver Room

2022 2nd rounder Christian Watson enters Year 2 of his rookie deal, set to earn a fully guaranteed $1.1M on a $2.1M cap hit. His emergence to finish off 2022 signals a chance for huge value out of this contract over the next few seasons.

2022 4th rounder Romeo Doubs also looked the part, and his non-guaranteed 3 years, $2.9M could give Green Bay a cheap, talented 1-2 punch in the passing game through 2025.

Vets Randall Cobb & Allen Lazard are both slated for free agency this offseason, with the latter carrying a $12.5M valuation into the offseason.

The Tight End Room

The Packers are thin here, as both Robert Tonyan Jr. & Marcedes Lewis are headed back to the open market (leaving behind a combined $1.55M of dead cap). 2020 3rd rounder Josiah Deguara enters a contract year (non-guaranteed $1.1M), while UDFAs Nick Guggemos & Austin Allen were signed to reserve deals this winter.

Tonyan carries a $5M valuation in our system, and seems the most likely option to be brought back and take over the reins again, though this is certainly a team keeping an eye on the likes of Mike Gesicki, Dalton Schultz, Evan Engram, & Hayden Hurst on the open market this March.

The Offensive Line

Left Tackle David Bakhtiari’s inability to stay on the field at least puts his contract in question this March, though early reports seem to favor him sticking around for one more season. Moving on this March leaves behind $23.1M of dead cap to 2023, freeing up $5.65M. He’s set to account for $28.7M on the Packers’ cap right now, so keeping him around will likely require a 3rd straight restructure. Converting his $9.5M March roster bonus (+ 3 void years) into signing bonus can open up $7.6M of space.

Left Guard Elgton Jenkins locked in a 4 year, $68M extension this past Christmas, though his $24M signing bonus is the only full guarantee at signing (a Packers’ standard). The new deal brings a team-friendly $6.9M cap hit for 2023.

2021 2nd rounder Josh Myers ranked 27th among centers according to PFF, bringing a non-guaranteed 2 year, $2.5M deal to the table through 2024. There’s a world where a veteran upgrade is brought in here this March.

Right Guard Jon Runyan enters a contract year in 2023, with an estimated $2.745M salary, thanks to a proven performance escalator. At this point however, it seems unlikely that an early extension will come this season.

Green Bay is likely in the market for a Right Tackle this offseason, as Yosh Nijman is slated for free agency, & Royce Newman & Zach Tom are both placeholders until proven otherwise.

The Defensive Line

Kenny Clark enters Year 4 of a 5 year, $78M contract, set to earn $16.25M on a $23.9M cap figure and will be the first to admit it was an inconsistent 2022. There’s $14.5M of compensation available to be restructured this season, which could come via another salary conversion - or a full boat new contract extension.

2022 1st rounder Devonte Wyatt enters Year 2 of his rookie deal, set to earn a fully guaranteed $1.2M ($2.9M cap hit).

Jarran Reed & Dean Lowry are slated for free agency, leaving behind a combined $4.49M of voided dead cap on their way out.

The Linebackers

30-year-old Preston Smith enters Year 2 of a 5 year, $64.5M contract, set to earn $10.6M on a $13M cap hit, all but securing his spot for 2023. Converting his $7.5M roster bonus into signing bonus can open up $6M of space as needed.

Rashan Gary was having a year (6 sacks, 32 tackles, 1 forced fumble in 9 games) before tearing his ACL. Now his 2023 season is in jeopardy as well, likely removing the chance he’ll bag an extension before his rookie deal expires. He’s slated to play out a fully guaranteed $10.8M option salary in 2023. From a valuation standpoint, he’s squarely in the conversation to find himself at the top of the mountain at some point, currently holding a $26M figure in our system. If the Packers trust he’ll be the same player post-recovery, locking him into this deal now can lower his 2023 cap hit, and keep him in the mix for 2024 and beyond.

2022 5th rounder Kingsley Enagbare looks like he might continue to be a factor, and his non-guaranteed 3 year, $2.9M certainly fits the bill.

De'Vondre Campbell enters Year 2 of a 5 year, $50M contract, set to earn $5.25M on an $8.15M cap hit which shouldn’t need to be touched. His counterpart Quay Walker enters Year 2 of his rookie deal, and is fully guaranteed through 2025, plus a 2026 option.

The Secondary

Jaire Alexander enters Year 2 of a 5 year, $98M contract, set to earn $14M on a $20M cap hit, the 4th highest such figure among 2023 cornerbacks. There’s a massive $11.45M roster bonus due March 19th that will almost certainly be converted to a signing bonus (+1 void year), clearing $9.16M of cap.

Behind him, Rasul Douglas enters Year 2 of a 3 year, $21M deal, set to earn $6M on a $7.7M cap hit. He had a strong 2022 and should hold good value again next season. 2021 1st-rounder Eric Stokes missed half the year with ankle/knee injuries, but is fully guaranteed through 2023.

29-year-old safety Adrian Amos is headed for free agency, while 2019 1st rounder Darnell Savage is entering his 5th year option season, carrying a fully guaranteed $7.9M salary for 2023. Safety is a position of need for the Packers this offseason.

The Special Teamers

K Mason Crosby is a pending free agent, coming off of a season where he made 86% of his field goals, 95% of his PATs. If he’s asked back for a 17th season, it’ll likely be done at or around the minimum salary.

P Pat O'Donnell holds a non-guaranteed 1 year, $1.9M contract, set to account for $2.375M against the cap in 2023. The 32 year old is solid, but with $1.9M to be saved, it’s possible the Packers look to save a buck and go younger here.

LS Jack Coco remains a minimum salary option through 2023.