Will Rodgers play for Packers in ’23? These players could tip scale – Green Bay Packers Blog
GREEN BAY, Wisconsin – The Green Bay Packers have it easy if they want to outpace Aaron Rodgers.
He gave it to them.
“This game is about relationships,” Rodgers said during an appearance on The Pat McAfee Show last week. “It’s about the players you play against and who you can rely on, even if they might not show up that big in the stats.”
He named five players: left tackle David Bakhtiari, receivers Randall Cobb and Allen Lazard, and tight ends Marcedes Lewis and Robert Tonyan.
All but Bakhtiari are said to be free agents in March and even Bakhtiari could be asked to restructure his contract.
“A guy like Marcedes Lewis is an important cog in the machinery of the locker room and the dynamic of the team,” Rodgers said. “This is a guy I want to end my career with. When I play I want this guy next to me. I want the Randall Cobbs of the world – if he wants to keep playing – in my dressing room. Guys you can win it with. Allen Lazard, Bobby Tonyan, and David Bakhtiari. There’s a lot of interesting names that we’re going to see if there’s a desire to re-sign certain guys who are stuck in the dressing room will be an interesting conversation.”
All general manager Brian Gutekunst Rodgers has to say is that he’s not bringing back some or all of those players and it could end the quarterback’s career at Green Bay. If Rodgers still wants to play at this point, they need to work out a trade.
The Rodgers factor isn’t the only thing Gutekunst has to consider when making decisions about these five players, plus maybe free-agent kicker Mason Crosby, another player who was in Rodgers’ inner circle.
“You want to win, and any team will say they want to win, but it’s the kind of team you put together,” Rodgers said on another edition of the McAfee show Tuesday. “I don’t need all my boys for that. I don’t stand for those seven guys on the table [who] must be part of it to come back; It’s just the feeling of the team.”
With that in mind, here’s a look at the players Rodgers specifically mentioned whose future could affect his decision to return to the Packers and the instances where they’ve been let go and brought back:
LT David Bakhtiari
Why keep him? When he’s healthy, he’s still one of the best left tackles in the league. He ranked first in ESPN’s pass block win rate among all tackles in the 2022 season and 11th in run block win rate. The Packers have no apparent heir on the left tackle, although Yosh Nijman (a restricted free agent) and Zach Tom could be possibilities.
Why continue? He seemed to find a way over the course of the season to get a grip on his left knee, which has undergone three surgeries, but there’s always concern that his knee problems could flare up again. Do you remember the Washington game in October? He seemed fine all week but was then added to the injury report on Saturday and was inactive a day later.
Financial Impact: He has the second-highest salary cap ($28,853,749) on the team for 2023 and will receive a $9.5 million roster bonus on day three of the league year (March 17). The Packers would make $3.597 million to Cap Space if they released him before June 1 and $16.225 million after June 1.
Most Likely Result: Bring him back, turning his March roster bonus and most of his $6.7 million base salary into a signing bonus that would spread the cap across multiple seasons. The Packers could also ask Bakhtiari to add contestable years to his contract to spread caps further.
WR Randall Cobb
Why keep him? He’s Rodger’s security blanket. Of Cobb’s 62 receptions since returning to Green Bay in 2021, 40 resulted in a first down (including 21 of them in a third-down game). While the Packers like their young trio of receivers — Christian Watson, Romeo Doubs and Samori Toure — they would be without a veteran if neither Cobb nor Lazard returned.
Why continue? He turns 33 in August, and while he hasn’t had a season-ending injury in the past two years, he has missed a total of nine games in that span.
Financial Impact: The Packers added a contestable year (2023) to his contract to save room for the 2022 cap, meaning he’ll count toward next season’s salary cap at $1,391,668 regardless of whether he’s on on the list or not.
Most Likely Result: Cobb retires, or if Rodgers returns to the Packers, then Cobb comes back for about the same $3 million he made last season.
WR Allen Lazard
Why keep him? Like Cobb, Rodgers trusts him. Lazard also does the little things (block, lead) that the trainers love. If Watson and Doubs can get to the point where they are the top two receivers then there is value in having Lazard as a reliable third option.
Why continue? Lazard is unlikely to be considered a WR1 by the Packers (60 catches, 788 yards, 6 TDs in 2022) and he almost certainly wants to be paid like one.
Financial Impact: Lazard played in the $3.986 million restricted free agent tender last season. It was the first time in his career that he made more than the league minimum. This is his best chance to sign a high-priced contract.
Most Likely Result: Lazard is testing the market when free agency opens, and if he doesn’t find it to his liking, he could return to Green Bay.
TE Marcedes Lewis
Why keep him? Rodgers raves about Lewis’ leadership more than any other player on the team. Lewis never complains about not getting the ball and is still an effective blocker.
Why continue? He will be 39 in May and has not been dynamic in the passing game for years. He caught just six passes for 66 yards with two touchdowns last season despite playing in every game.
Financial Impact: As with Cobb, the Packers added an invalid year for cap purposes in 2023, meaning he will count $1.05 million whether he’s on the team or not.
Most Likely Result: Lewis has given no indication that he plans to return. The Packers can still go on, but if Rodgers isn’t back, then Lewis is certainly done for here.
TE Robert Tonyan
Why keep him? He made it back from his cruciate ligament rupture in 2021 faster than most and ended the season looking very similar to his pre-injury form. He was a rising star before the injury and quietly set a career personal best with 53 catches last season. The Packers don’t have anyone on the list to fill the TE1 spot.
Why continue? For some reason, Tonyan seemed like an afterthought when it came to big play and red zone opportunities. He caught just two touchdown passes last season, nowhere near the best of 11 of his career in 2020.
Financial Impact: Had it not been for the mid-season 2021 ACL injury, he would have been a highly sought-after free agent last offseason. Instead, he returned to the Packers on a one-year, $3.75 million contract ($500,000 of which counts toward the 2023 contestable year cap). He’s certainly looking for more than that after proving he’s returned to his pre-injury form.
Most Likely Result: Like Lazard, Tonyan is testing the market when free agency opens, and when he doesn’t like it, he considers what the Packers have to offer. Aside from Bakhtiari, he is the player whose return seems least tied to Rodgers’ future. With or without Rodgers, the Packers need a guy like Tonyan.
https://www.espn.com/blog/green-bay-packers/post/_/id/52934/will-rodgers-play-for-packers-in-2023-these-teammates-could-tip-the-scale Will Rodgers play for Packers in ’23? These players could tip scale – Green Bay Packers Blog