Will the Packers trade for a receiver? Will David Bakhtiari truly be healthy? Who’s to blame for the Packers offensive failings? Should Aaron Rodgers have said his teammates, who were performing badly, were performing badly after saying his own play has been bad several times this season? These topics have made up the majority of Packers writing this week, but what if the team isn’t going to get better? Are we in for a few decades of mediocrity? Here’s what the 2023 Packers offense might look like.
(Yes, by basically giving up on this season, I’m hoping to add to the reverse jinx energy)
You’ll hear experts on both sides of the Rodgers/Receivers/Play Calling debate. Nate Tice says Rodgers isn’t reading out plays. Dan Orlovsky says someone is screwing up their route every play. 97% of Twitter is saying run the damn ball. Ok, they’re not really experts.
Either way, there’s probably room for blame for all parties here and it should make you think that Rodgers is likely to retire after this season. What’s the point of coming back for another season of inferior receiver play when he’s getting hit hard several times each week?
If he does retire, don’t be surprised for the offense to improve (at least compared to what we’ve seen so far). The young receivers will be a year older and even if Love isn’t close to Rodgers in talent, just playing on schedule could be an improvement.
Basically, the entire league is basing their defense around fooling opposing QBs and not showing them what’s going to happen prior to the play and Rodgers’ whole game is based on knowing what the defense is doing. That’s why he lets the play clock run down to 0 so often. That’s why he throws it up every time he gets man coverage.
As far as the cap goes, Over the Cap has a great article explaining the team’s options.
As soon as Aaron Jones signed his extension, everyone thought he’d be gone after the 2022 season. His cap number skyrockets from $5.9 million this year to 20 million next year and letting him go would save $10 million in cap space. But there’s a problem.
AJ Dillon has regressed this year. He has a PFF grade of 68.5 to go with just 7 total forced missed tackles and 3.9 yards per attempt. He’s a big back who is struggling from the shotgun and isn’t running anyone over. He just doesn’t have the change of direction ability to hit those outside runs and when the Packers go under center with him in the backfield the defense just stacks the box.
Will the team extend Jones in his age 29 season to get his cap number down? Will they waste another high draft pick on a running back? Will they go into the season with just Dillon and a former 7th round pick who hasn’t even played yet this year?
David Bakhtiari is the obvious questions. He’s apparently already had a setback with his knee and is still producing too much fluid. I don’t think it’s possible for them to let him go. He would still cost $23 million against the cap and save only $6 million. It would take a helluva draft capital to make it worth trading him even. $23 million is a sunk cost and it’s worth investing $6 million in a player who could be the best in the league.
Next, is Elgton Jenkins. He’s been bad this year coming off a torn ACL. I doubt the team wants to offer him market setting money with the way he’s playing. But they also can’t just let him go if there’s a (likely high) chance that he returns to all-pro level play. The best case here for both parties might be a one year prove it deal.
Finally, Yosh Nijman is a fan favorite because of his diamond in the rough status, but I don’t think you want him as a true long-term starter. When he plays, he needs help often and the team always forces more short passes. You’re better off with Zach Tom being the long-term tackle in my opinion.
It’s unlikely that any of Sammy Watkins, Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers, or Juwann Winfree will be on the team making a difference. The big question is Allen Lazard.
Lazard is a great role player. He blocks better than many tight ends and can pull in a crazy down field catch every three games. But he doesn’t get separation and we have ample evidence that he is a subpar number 2 receiver and even worse number 1. If someone offers him something like 3 years $24 million, the Packers have to pass.
That means the wide receiver room could be Romeo Doubs, Christian Watson, and a bunch of new faces. Anyone who has watched the team this season is probably fine with that.
Mike Price is a lifelong Packers fan currently living in Utah. You can follow him on twitter at @themikeprice.