The Green Bay Packers spent this offseason re-signing as many of their own free agents as they could. To do that, GM Brain Gutekunst had to re-work the contracts of many players like Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith, David Bakhtiari and Adrian Amos to free up enough money to get the Packers under the 2021 salary cap.
But those changes also meant the Packers had to push a lot of salary cap money forward to 2022 and beyond so they could be cap compliant in 2021. This could spell trouble for the Packers next offseason depending on how much the salary cap goes up in 2022 and how Gutekunst handles the contracts of Aaron Rodgers and several other players.
With that in mind, here is a look at the Packers potential free agents for 2022 and what their impact could be on the team:
- OL Lucas Patrick
Patrick started at right guard in 2020 after Lane Taylor was hurt. He is a tough player who can start at either guard spot or center. With the departure of Corey Linsley via free agency, Patrick could take over the in the middle in 2021.
Patrick will be 29 before the start of the 2022 season and that’s the age the Packers usually hesitate to sign their offensive linemen to another contract. How well Patrick performs in 2021 will be a big factor in determining whether the Pack gives him another deal or lets him go next offseason.
- WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling
Marquez Valdes-Scantling enjoyed his best season as a pro in 2020 with 33 receptions for 690 yards and six touchdowns. His 20.9-yard average per reception was tops in the NFL among qualifying receivers.
MVS is a burner who is capable of taking a play to the house any time he gets his hands on the football. He still needs to improve his consistency as he was credited with seven drops in 2020 according to pro-football-reference.com and had a catch percentage of just 52.4.
If MVS can be more consistent this coming season, the Packers will likely look to sign him to a new deal in 2022. If he continues to struggle with his consistency, he will probably have to look for another team willing to take a chance on his immense talent.
- TE Robert Tonyan
Tonyan’s status for 2021 is still up in the air. The Packers placed a second-round tender on their starting tight end but Tonyan has yet to officially sign a deal with the Packers for next season and could be playing elsewhere although that is unlikely.
It is still possible the Packers ink Tonyan to a multi-year deal before the start of the coming season to limit the cap hit in 2021 which would take him off this list. They could also ink him to a one-year deal and have to negotiate a new contract with the former Indiana State star next offseason.
Tonyan enjoyed a breakout campaign in 2020, catching 52 passes for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns, all career highs. His catch percentage was an impressive 88.1 and he earned the trust of Rodgers with his sure hands and precise route running.
The Packers have depth at tight end with a pair of third-round picks in Jace Sternberger and Josiah Deguara on the roster along with veteran Marcedes Lewis. If Tonyan continues to play at or near his 2020 level, Gutekunst will likely try to lock him up long term.
- CB Jaire Alexander
Alexander’s rookie contract expires after the 2021 season, but the Packers do hold a fifth-year option on their star corner because he was a first-round draft pick.
The Pack is almost certain to pick up the option to keep Alexander in green and gold in 2022 before signing him to a new, long-term deal.
Alexander has established himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the game and the Packers are certain to want to keep him in Green Bay a long time. They will need to pay him a lot of money in 2023 after the fifth-year option year is over or risk losing him via free agency.
- WR Davante Adams
The Packers are already rumored to be negotiating with Adams on a long-term extension which is another way they could reduce their 2021 cap problems.
Adams had his best season as a pro in 2020, setting a Packers single-season record with 115 catches for 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns.
He and Rodgers have outstanding chemistry and the quarterback knows he can always rely on Adams to get open when he needs a key first down.
Adams will be 30 before the end of the 2022 season, but he should have several years of top production left as he does not rely on pure speed to get open. Instead, Adams uses body control and similar looks when getting off the snap to keep defenders guessing.
The Packers need to re-sign Adams to a long-term deal to alleviate this year’s cap crunch and to prevent their best receiver from leaving after the 2021 campaign.
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