The offseason is here; we are all disappointed in the Packers performance. Changes will have to be made, like any other offseason. This article will explore what I would do with this offseason if I was Packers GM Brian Gutekunst?
There is a lot to do for him and the front office. There will be a lot of moving parts that affect one another. Beyond the usual free agency and NFL draft that has to be dealt with, there is of course the cap. At this point they are over by 5.36 million per OverTheCap. There is also the Aaron Rodgers ‘will he or wont he retire’ issue. That one will be the most important one that needs dealt with, and should be dealt with first. So, let’s get to it.
What to do with Aaron Rodgers?
This is obviously a complicated situation. The Packers kind of married themselves to him last offseason with the contract extension they gave him. It does not make it easy for them to get out of. With his massive cap hit, there isn’t a lot of maneuvering to be done other than restructures — and the Packers have borrowed from the future three off-season’s in a row. Eventually you have to pay the man, so to speak.
As we all know, there is the old saying of about the definition of insanity… Well they would be doing this offseason what they did the previous three; and it has not worked out. What makes them think it magically will this time? I would rip off the band-aid. If he wants to come back, I would trade him after June 1. The Packers get a net gain of about one million in cap space in that scenario.
Packers Offseason Free Agents
Gutekunst has a number of free agents he will have to figure out what the Packers want to do with in the offseason — and not much cap space to work with. The unrestricted free agents are Allen Lazard, Eric Wilson, Justin Hollins, Rudy Ford, Keisean Nixon, Corey Ballentine and Dallin Leavitt.
I would attempt to re-sign Hollins to a 1-year 1.80 million deal with a 500k signing bonus. With Nixon, I would offer him a two-year, 2 million dollar deal with a 1 million dollar bonus. I would also offer Rudy Ford a vet minimum deal with a small signing bonus, but he probably gets more on the open market.
Adrian Amos, Randall Cobb, Dean Lowry, Marcedes Lewis, Robert Tonyan, Jarran Reed, and Mason Crosby all have voids in their contracts. In this scenario, I let them walk and thank them for their service.
The Packers have just four restricted free agents in Yosh Nijman, Krys Barnes, Tyler Davis, and Jake Hanson. I would give Nijman the 2nd-round tender and Barnes that right of first refusal. I would let Hanson and Davis walk.
Since we are ripping off band-aids here, we will be also cutting any vets who don’t fit in the long term with the roster. I will cut David Bahktiari, Preston Smith, Aaron Jones, Vernon Scott, Luke Tenuta, and Jonathan Garvin.
Where does that leave us?
All these moves leave the Packers with 8.4 million in cap space. That is not enough for the draft class, UDFAs, and in-season space. Per Ken Ingalls, the Packers will need about 11 million for their draft class, 3.45 for the practice squad, and about 5 million in season. Which means they need to create almost another 20 million in space.
This obviously means restructures need to be made. It was going to have to be done regardless of what happens with Rodgers this offseason. With a simple restructure of Kenny Clark’s contract they can create $10.37 million in space, which gets us half way there.
Restructuring Jaire Alexander’s contract gets the Packers another $8.86 million which gets them to 19.23 million. Then we get a simple restructure of De’Vondre Campbell to get the Packers another 2.46 million. We are done. This would leave the Packers with almost $22 million in space so they could also sign a couple vet minimum guys. They could also redo Douglas’ deal and clear up another $1.5 million. The Packers could do that this offseason, but we don’t need to here.
Rashan Gary is an obvious first thought for a contract extension, but coming off the ACL I would want to see him play in-season just to make sure he gets back to his previous self. It might cost more in the long run, but its safer. AJ Dillon is another player you could think about extending, but I don’t think he has done enough to warrant one. Yet.
Where does this leave the Packers in 2023?
It actually leaves them with a competitive roster. They won’t get in the playoffs, but they won’t be competing for at top five pick in April either. They’d have to bite the cap bullet in 2023, but would get some relief in 2024 with $62 million in cap space and are pretty much in the clear beyond that.
Packers Offseason Roster
QB: Jordan Love/rookie or cheap vet
WR: Watson/Doubs/Toure or rookie or Melton
TE: Deguara/Austin Allen/rookie/rookie and or cheap vet
or my favorite
OG: Jenkins/Runyan or Myers
ED: Enagbare/rookie or Hollins (until Gary is back)
Final thoughts on the Packers Offseason Plans
The Packers could start to build through the draft and augment any holes with free agents starting in 2024. If Jordan Love isn’t the guy, there is going to be a pretty good quarterback class that year. With picks from a Rodgers trade, they could move up to take one. Also note the numbers in this article are all ball park figures. I’m not the best “numbers” guy.
If you have enjoyed reading the article you can check out my other stuff. I will also be doing a second part on what I think Gutekenst will do, so be on the look out for that.