The 2022 season has just ended, and as of March 13, the 2023 campaign will open its doors. DNA of Sports therefore takes the opportunity to offer you an overview of the different franchises during the off-season. Which players to keep and cut? Which free agent to extend? Which rookies to watch? Here are some ideas, franchise by franchise. In the spotlight today, the Green Bay Packers.
Announced as a contender in 2022, the Wisconsin franchise largely disappointed by missing the playoffs for the first time since 2018. A sulky Aaron Rodgers, a lost coach, a desperate defense, everything went upside down. But if the staff has been renewed entirely, profound changes are to be expected in the workforce. The end of a cycle seems to be dawning. Worst end of an era.
1. Jaire Alexander (BC)
2. Aaron Jones (RB)
3. Rashan Gary (Edge)
Back at his best after an injury-hit 2021 season, Jaire Alexander is among the league’s best cornerbacks. Named for the 2nd time All Pro, he justified his mega contract signed last summer. If sometimes he should focus more on the game rather than on the “trash talk”, he knows how to respond as he proved by completely switching off Justin Jefferson at the end of the season.
Locker room executive, Aaron Jones will be back for a 7th season in Green Bay. The runner accepted a pay cut and a global restructuring allowing the franchise to be able to keep him by drastically reducing his impact on the salary cap. Among the most regular in his position, and the most effective with 5.3 yards per range, he is a versatile insurance for his quarterback.
Victim of a knee injury that ended his season prematurely, Rashan Gary started off on a very good footing. In steady progress since his arrival in the league, the pass rusher is now a reliable and complete player on whom the franchise relies. As he enters the final year of his rookie contract, he is likely to extend in the coming months and sign up as a team executive for the next few years.
– Aaron Rodgers (QB)
– David Bakhtiari (OT)
– Darnell Savage (S)
Unthinkable to want to get rid of a quadruple MVP, among the most talented to have walked the NFL grounds. And yet. The Aaron Rodgers era seems to have come to an end in Wisconsin. Between his sulks and hesitations which have tired, and the presence of his designated successor already present for 3 seasons, the time seems to have come to turn the page. If a premature end to his contract (signed in 2022!) is not possible from a salary point of view, an exchange seems to be under consideration. Several franchises have already made inquiries and the franchise is willing to study them.
Among the top 3 in his position, David Bakhtiari is recovering painfully from a long and difficult rehabilitation after a knee injury. If the end of the season has been encouraging, its weight in the payroll could push the front office to seek an early exit. Unless a restructuring suits both parties.
Darnell Savage may be the only experienced safety to be under contract in 2023, the fact remains that the former 1st round remains a major disappointment after 4 seasons as a starter. Irregular, slow, lacking in instincts, he was often the weak link in the defensive backfield. If the franchise had exercised its 5th year option last year, securing its contract for 2023, a trade could be the ideal solution. Picking up a late draft pick and releasing nearly $8 million in salary would be a godsend.
The summer man
Jordan Love (QB)
The time seems to have come. After three seasons as Aaron Rodgers’ understudy, 2023 looks like the year Jordan Love will spread his wings and show what he can do at the helm of the Packers’ offense. Or what he can’t do. The franchise had bet big on him in 2020 by selecting him in the 1st round of the draft despite Rodgers.
A few snippets of matches, the 24-year-old quarterback seemed to show progress on the little seen last season. Enough to reassure? Not necessarily. But enough for Green Bay to be willing to turn the page on their four-time MVP. Love will quickly have to show that he has made the most of his learning and that he has the level to lead the Packers for the decade to come.
The main free agents
1. Allen Lazard (WR)
2. Adrian Amos (S)
3. Robert Tonyan (TE)
4. Jarran Reed (DT)
5. Kesean Nixon (CB/KR)
The others: Mason Crosby (K), Yosh Nijman (OT), Dean Lowry (DL), Randall Cobb (WR), Marcedes Lewis (TE), Dalin Levitt (S), Justin Hollins (OLB), Jonathan Ford (S)
Already not really among the most supplied and productive squads, the team should lose its number one receiver during the spring. Arriving through the back door in 2018, Lazard has gradually established itself as a reliable and important receiver in Matt LaFleur’s system. In the small papers of Aaron Rodgers, he has seen his role grow season after season. Former undrafted player, Lazard should be able to get a nice deserved contract on which Green Bay will have great difficulty in aligning. Same analysis for Robert Tonyan. Tight end number 1 for three seasons, he has proven that we can count on him as proven by his 11 touchdowns in 2020. He should logically sail to other skies next season.
An unbreakable link in the defensive squad, Adrian Amos has not missed a single game in 4 seasons in Wisconsin. Pillar of the backfield, he has sometimes disappointed in 2022 despite a statistical production still there. His return remains possible but will depend a lot on his rating on the market. For Jarran Reed, author of a solid season at the heart of the defensive line, the future should be written elsewhere. At just 30 years old, several teams should be interested in him. His replacement is already there in the person of Devonte Wyatt drafted in the 1st round in 2022.
Revelation of the year, Kesean Nixon transformed the special teams in half a season. Named All Pro, he distinguished himself by achieving the longest return of the season (105 yards) and being the player to cover the most yards on return commitments (1009 yards). Base man of the coordinator Rich Bisaccia who brought him from the Raiders, both parties would have every interest in extending the adventure.
Top 5 Needs
5. Defensive tackle
Totally lacking in the safety position with the only (and disappointing) Darnell Savage entering his last year of contract, the team will have to completely rethink the position during the offseason. In this type of situation, the model used by the general manager since taking office is often the same. A free agent and a rookie. Not a luxury when you see the construction site. The analysis of the tight end position is quite comparable. With the two holders at the end of the contract, Green Bay finds itself with Josiah Deguara as number 1. In three seasons, the player has never proven that he could be a viable and lasting solution either at the reception or on the blocks.
Reinforced by Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs last year, the receiving position is still a concern. With the very probable departure of Allen Lazard, the squad must look for a receiver of possession capable of moving the chains and offering solutions to his pitcher. Also lacking a profile that can evolve in the slot, the team will also have to try to find at least one player who can be a threat in this position.
On the defensive line, the presence of executives like Gary or Clark, and the former 1st round of draft Wyatt will have to be reinforced by rotation players able to contribute, but also to allow the holders to be a little less solicited.
Taylor Rapp (S)
In the red at the salary cap, the Packers will have to play tight if they want to strengthen themselves with free experienced players. If a position can be reinforced at moderate cost, it is that of safety. Traditionally underrated on the market in recent years, the 2023 crop of free agents is also rich in talent. What curb inflation and allow blows.
Champion with the Rams last year, Taylor Rapp has made his place on the last curtain of LA At just 25 years old, the player seems to still have some under his feet. He could slip on like a glove the costume left vacant by Adrian Amos. In a similar profile, the former Huskie is as good at hitting and playing close to the line as he is playing on the cover. An expense that would not be trivial, but which could quite easily be structured to deal with the finances of the franchise in 2023.
The new blood
Lukas Van Ness (Edge)
If like every year, a receiver seems to be the priority of the 1st round, Green Bay has not considered the position on the first night of the draft for 21 years. No reason for 2023 to break the series. In what could look like a transition year, the Packers could be seduced by a potential to polish more than a player ready to start right away.
Lukas Van Ness has this type of profile to seduce Wisconsin recruiters. Versatile pass rusher, also capable of being very effective against the run, the Iowa player has shone in the past two years without having been a starter with the Hawkeyes once. Able to evolve in pure edge but also in DE 34, the staff of the Packers could “walk” him to different positions and in different patterns to find how to maximize his strengths.
Other Picks: Jordan Addison, Brian Branch, Bryan Breese, Michael Mayer