Suffering through your favorite team’s bye week can be an ominous period for any NFL fan. While fans want to see more action on the field, it serves as a chance for not only players, but coaches to recharge. The players play and coaches coach. Yet coaches also have the responsibility of evaluating talent and preparing for the future. Even during the heat of the season the bye week allows for time of reflection.
The loss of Aaron Rodgers could have very well catalyzed this process for the Packers. When he announced on Conan this week he had thirteen screws inserted to repair his collarbone the news was hardly comforting. If true, doctors have weighed in stating this could prolong the healing process and jeopardize Rodgers’ season even more. Regardless, the Packers have to look forward. They will try to make the playoffs and give Rodgers a chance to play. But if things continue to go south, Green Bay’s personnel evaluators will analyze their 2018 free agents sooner than later. As it stands right now the Packers will be nearly $29 million under the cap. If Marcellus Bennett is serious about his retirement at the end of the year this number will be even lower. Bringing in serious talent from outside the organization will be a real possibility.
Prior to that, the Packers will need to take care of their own first. Rodgers is still due for a pay raise and the Packers will not be able to put it off much longer. With Matthew Stafford making $28 million a year for the next half decade, #12 will certainly command more. Assuming GM Ted Thompson is going to stick around through the 2018 offseason he will have tough contract decisions to make. And not just with Rodgers.
SS Morgan Burnett
Dom Capers has missed the quarterback of his defense the past two games. Communication has been off completely, particularly in the secondary. Mike McCarthy has been adamant about seeing improvement there. Burnett had the best season of his career in 2016 and 2017 was shaping up to be even better. How often do you find a player that can fit in at safety, linebacker, and corner. He is third on the team in tackles despite his missed time. Burnett has even outplayed his sidekick Clinton-Dix who was a pro bowler last season. His age will be 29 in January, though safeties tend to play at a high level into their mid 30s.
Projected contract: 4 years, $33 million
WR Davante Adams
Adams is the most intriguing prospect on the Packers roster when it comes to contracts. How he finishes this season without Rodgers at the helm should tell enough about his true value. Adams is not the possession receiver Antonio Brown is, nor does he possess the vertical speed of a DeAndre Hopkins. The Packers would be taking a great leap of faith paying him number one receiver type money for years to come. However, Thompson and his confidants can ill afford to develop another mid round receiver while Rodgers is ready for his second Super Bowl.
Projected contract: 3 years, $34.5 million
C Corey Linsley
Linsley is about as solid as they come as far as NFL centers go. When the Packers had the chance to resign JC Tretter, they put their belief into a former fifth rounder in Linsley. According to PFF, he is graded as the 20th overall center (Tretter is 18th). There is room for growth, but the chemistry he has built with Rodgers will not go unnoticed when negotiations start.
Projected contract: 4 years, $22 million
CB Davon House
House was a solid pickup for Green Bay during the 2017 offseason. They hated to see him go in 2015, but were not ready to pay him over $6 million a year. He is signed for the veteran minimum and has played his way into a slightly better deal. Although he will never be a shut down corner, the Packers will need his services as a rotational player for the next couple years.
Projected contract: 2 years, $8 million
OG Jahri Evans
Evans’ battle against father time is going well thus far, but it will inevitably be a loss he has to take. Early penalties from the beginning of the season have since been forgotten. His play has picked up and he has started in every game for the Packers. A rarity for this offensive line. Evans would be a great mentor for another year, but anything beyond that would be a waste of a roster spot.
Projected Contract: 1 year, $3 million
OLB Ahmad Brooks
I think we all miss Julius Peppers.
Projected Contract: Let him walk
TE Richard Rodgers
If Bennett is serious about this being his final season, then third string Richard Rodgers’ stock just rose tremendously. Rodgers will never be a great route runner, but his pass catching abilities are formidable.
Projected Contract: 2 years, $6 million
WR Jeff Janis
The Janis experiment has gone on long enough. His special teams services can be saluted, but his days as a receiver have nothing to show for. If a QB like Rodgers cannot turn Janis into a serviceable receiver, maybe no one can. He will get another shot somewhere else.
Projected Contract: Let him walk
___________________Brandon Carwile was a Cheesehead at birth. His dad grew up attending games at Lambeau and passed on the legacy. He has covered the Packers for over five years and currently works with packerstalk.com. Find him on twitter at @PackerScribe.