Still reeling from yet another disappointing season finale, the Packers front office has a lot of work ahead of them. Two years of going “all-in” on their current roster has yielded zero playoff victories. And now it’s time to pay the piper. Per Packers salary cap expert Ken Ingalls: the Packers essentially borrowed over $34 million from the 2023 cap over the last two seasons. Unfortunately for them, it didn’t pan out. But it’s put them in a position to make a lot of tough decisions for the next season and beyond.
This is the biggie, and most obvious. Aaron Rodgers has openly contemplated retirement for the past two offseasons. And speculation was rampant before he even left the field Sunday night. But even he admitted in his post game press conference, that his return has to be mutually wanted. And Brian Gutekunst will have to decide just how he views Jordan Love. In a press conference earlier this season, Gutekunst stated that he’s already seen enough to decide whether to pick up Love’s fifth year option. Love’s cap hit is still just $3.9 mil for 2023, but that would jump to $20 mil for 2024 if his option is picked up. Love showed progress filling in for Rodgers against the Eagles – looking more decisive and accurate. Given the salary cap and the state of the Packers current roster, Gutekunst could try and accelerate the rebuild and move forward with Love.
What to Do with Aaron Jones?
This season reinforced just how important Jones is to this offense. But when he signed his four year extension after the 2020 season, it was obvious that it was a two year deal, then re-evaluate. After counting just $5.9 mil on the 2022 cap, that number jumps north of $20 mil for 2023. That’s a tough number for any back, let alone one getting 50% of the team’s carries, who will turn 29 during the next season. The Packers have clearly kept a close eye on his touches, and there’s no doubt that he is still a much more explosive player than Dillon is.
A simple solution could be to restructure his current deal, which could save roughly half of his cap hit, or extend Jones and spread that cap hit out. They also could potentially cut him post June 1st – which would save $16 mil in cap and carry only $4 mil in dead cap for 2023. With Dillon and practice squad member Tyler Goodson both set to return next year, the Packers could elect to spend a mid round pick on another RB and be content with that group.
Re-tool the Back End?
The safety position has the potential to look completely different next season. Adrian Amos will be a free agent – despite still counting over $7.5 mil on the cap due to void years added. He is also coming off one of his worst seasons. His PFF grade of 54.2 is by far the lowest of his career (69.6 his rookie year). He also allowed a QB rating of 122 when targeted – his previous high as a Packer was 86. Meanwhile, Darnell Savage is under contract for one more season after having his fifth year option picked up. But he has failed to live up to his physical gifts. And despite slightly improved play at the end of the season after switching to the slot, it might be best for a change of scenery. His tackling has been far too inconsistent, and there’s been too many coverage breakdowns.——————
Jared is a rogue Packers fan from a Steelers family and an overall football junkie, including playing 4 years at Ithaca College. You can follow him on twitter at @JPrugar.