Can the Packers Actually “Run it Back” in 2023?

After a season ending loss to the Lions last Sunday, the Green Bay Packers have a lot to consider moving forward into the 2023 season. Key contributors on the roster such as Allen Lazard, Randall Cobb, Marcedes Lewis, Adrian Amos, and Robert Tonyan are up for free agency and players like Aaron Rodgers and Aaron Jones aren’t guaranteed to appear on next year’s roster. Will the Packers try to keep the majority of their core roster in an effort to “run it back?”

Of course “running it back” will involve retaining Aaron Rodgers, but we know there are some roster moves that will help him decide whether or not it’s time for his departure from the team.

Who’s on the Chopping Block?

Of course, there will be a few departures this offseason, and a high profile departure may already be written on the walls. Packers veteran receiver and blocking threat Allen Lazard seems to know that he plans on leaving the team in free agency. When asked if he thinks Rodgers will be back he responded “I don’t f—–g know, s–t, I know where I’m gonna be at, I can’t worry about somebody else.”

Lazard continued to outright say that he had been considering the fact that his first game with the Packers and “potentially my last game, which it is” would be against the Detroit Lions. Rookie wide receivers Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs look promising heading into their second year, but the Packers will surely need to add another wideout to replace Lazard if they want to entice Rodgers to stay.

Marcedes Lewis looks to be a player who may potentially decide to call it quits, though I’m sure the front office would love to have him back in a world where they planned on keeping Rodgers around. Lewis has just wrapped up his 17th season in the NFL, and he still looks like an elite blocking tight end, though he may decide it’s time to retire. In all likelihood his decision will go hand in hand with Aaron Rodgers’ willingness to play another year, but the Packers will still have to extend at least a one year offer to the tight end.

Randall Cobb is another pending free agent who may offer some leverage for Aaron Rodgers to come back. It feels unlikely that the front office will want to offer him a deal, but this may have large implications for whether or not next season’s team is led by QB Jordan Love or not.

Running back Aaron Jones is due for a good chunk of money next year, but he has been arguably the best skill position player on Green Bay’s offense, if not for some costly fumbles. Jones is seen by many as a potential salary cap casualty heading into next season, but as a core member of the Packers offense, his return will be crucial if the Packers want to give it their best shot in 2023. If he isn’t released, look for a reworked contract that alleviates some of Jones’ salary cap hit in 2023.

Finally, safety Adrian Amos and tight end Robert Tonyan are impending free agents. Both of these players had down years from what was expected of them, and unless they are brought back on modest contracts, they will all but certainly look for other opportunities. Both Amos and Tonyan are contributing starters, but the Packers likely won’t want them back at high price tags. Addressing these two positions through the draft or free agency will be an important step for the Packers, whether or not they decide to keep most of their roster in tact.

So, is This Happening?

Overall this possibility seems 50/50 at the moment. There are of course other considerations that weren’t mentioned that will play a role here. There are other free agents like defensive linemen Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed, but at least one of them can be brought back for a modest price tag to rotate alongside Devonte Wyatt and Kenny Clark. Another consideration is the Packers schedule next season, it looks very possible for them to win 10 or more games with their current roster.

The biggest question would be: is all of this worth it? The Packers have already kicked the can down the road with salary cap space for the last few years, and they’re feeling the consequences of those decisions more and more every season.

Trying to put together a winning roster in 2023 feels equally likely to starting a rebuild in a new era without Aaron Rodgers, but the one thing that is certain is that the front office needs to fully commit to one option or the other. You can’t lose half of these players and expect to win anything significant, and you can’t keep half of these players if you want to start a new regime by 2024, a significant decision needs to be made in the next few months.

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Zack is a college student and cheesehead from California. When he’s not in class or writing, you can find him talking about the Packers on Twitter at @Zack_Upchurch.

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