Aaron Rodgers is returning to the Green Bay Packers on a contract extension, the outcome everyone around the NFL expected. With the back-to-back NFL MVP staying in Green Bay, the front office can direct all of its attention towards the remainder of the offseason.
There is plenty of work to be done and that doesn’t even include the two biggest stars. The new extension will make him the highest-paid quarterback in the NFL. With the All-Pro passer coming back, wide receiver Davante Adams will be joining him on the field.
Creating cap room is the top priority. Fortunately for Green Bay, it can be achieved. Ken Ingalls, a cap analyst, broke down how the Packers can free up enough room to retain their stars with a little money left to spend.
Assuming Za’Darius Smith, Mason Crosby and Randall Cobb are NFL cap casualties, let’s examine additional offseason moves the Green Bay Packers should make to maximize their short Super Bowl window.
Trade Jordan Love
In the entire saga, Jordan Love went through so much he didn’t deserve. While he might not have been worth a first-round pick, Green Bay’s decision to reach for him doesn’t make his lack of development a bad reflection on him. Love also didn’t deserve to be the final spark that led to the chaos in 2021. In that same light, his lack of improvements as a passer shouldn’t be surprising considering COVID wiped out a year of development time.
It’s now time for a separation, even if the return is minimal. The Packers likely won’t be exercising the fully-guaranteed team option for Love’s fifth year, there’s very little film to make an informed decision. It’s also apparent the franchise doesn’t believe he’ll be ready to start in 2023.
The Packers did right by Rodgers, rewarding their Hall of Fame quarterback with a new contract and the respect he wanted from the front office. Now, Green Bay should do the right thing for Love by trading him to a team that will provide a fresh start. The backup quarterback behind Rodgers can be snagged with a Day 3 pick in the NFL Draft. If the MVP gets hurt, Green Bay’s season is over anyways.
Re-sign De’Vondre Campbell, extend Jaire Alexander
In an NFL without cap problems, the Packers could re-sign both linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and cornerback Rasul Douglas. Unfortunately, that’s not a realistic outcome. Choosing between the two players, Campbell becomes the priority.
He’s a three-down linebacker who proved his importance to this defense in 2021. Campbell thrived in coverage (83.1 PFF coverage grade) and made a huge impact against the run (53 stops). He should be a greater priority for the Packers because of their history of misses at inside linebacker and due to the other move Green Bay must prioritize this offseason.
Jaire Alexander missed 13 regular-season games due to an AC joint injury. Assuming he stays healthy in 2022 – Alexander played 31 games from 2019-’20 – the Packers replace Douglas with an All-Pro cornerback. Pairing him with Eric Stokes, who is ready to be a No. 2 corner, provides Green Bay with an outstanding duo.
Even coming off a serious injury, Alexander deserves an extension. He played at an elite level in 2020, surrendering just a 68.3 QB rating when targeted (Pro Football Focus). That’s obviously a player Green Bay can’t ever lose. A long-term deal, potentially in the range of $18 million per season, keeps Alexander in a Packers’ uniform and creates additional cap room for the franchise in 2022.
Targeting undervalued free agents
Between all of the re-signings and contract extensions, general manager Brian Gutekunst won’t have any room to make a splash. It means the marquee free agents won’t even take calls from Green Bay, there simply isn’t enough money available to give them a few minutes. However, there are a few bargain free agents who could be targeted.
O.J. Howard didn’t live up to his draft status with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Hitting the open market, the 6-foot-6 tight end will be looking for a fresh start. The 27-year-old isn’t hitting free agency at the perfect time, coming off a 135-yard season. So, a prove-it contract to become the Packers’ receiving tight end makes sense for around $3 million total.
If the Packers want to sign a wide receiver, the likes of Rashard Higgins, Zay Jones or A.J. Green could be appealing. Braxton Berrios would fill the need for a slot weapon and return specialist, but he’ll likely be outside the team’s price range.
Along the offensive line, interior linemen like Oday Aboushi, Quinton Spain and A.J. Cann might be appealing. If Green Bay wants a swing tackle, Tom Compton, Dennis Kelly and David Quessenberry are potential options. In the secondary, cornerback Kyle Fuller or safety Tracy Walker might be low-cost targets.
Green Bay Packers draft a No. 2 wide receiver
Allen Lazard will be returning to Green Bay in 2022 and he plays an important role within Matt LaFleur’s scheme. However, the Packers are likely about to lose Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Because of the impending MVS departure, Rodgers will need a new vertical threat.
Related: 2022 Green Bay Packers mock draft
The only reason Jameson Williams might fall to Green Bay is that he tore his ACL in the national championship game. Otherwise, this is a top-15 pick in the 2022 NFL Draft. Pro Football Focus compared him to a taller DeSean Jackson for a reason. This is a 6-foot-2 burner that is nearly impossible to stop vertically when faced with single coverage.
Imagine the difficult circumstances opposing defenses will face in 2022 if the Packers make this pick. Shifting double coverage towards Adams means Williams just needs a quick release to beat a team deep, he’ll feast against one-vs-one coverage. Throw that in along with jet sweeps – another thing LaFleur loves – you’ve got a fantastic trio with Adams, Williams and Lazard.