The Packers offseason came a lot sooner than many of us had hoped at the beginning of the 2022 NFL season. Because of the lack of production on the field, the Packers could look different heading into the 2023 NFL season. They could very much look like the same team. Regardless of your view on what the Packers should do this offseason with a soon to be forty-year-old quarterback, there is a list of things that have to happen. This is the Packers 2023 offseason to-do list.
1. Choose Between Aaron Rodgers or Jordan Love
The first thing on the list has to be what the Packers do at quarterback. Aaron Rodgers has to go through “his process” to determine if he still wants to play. If he does in fact want to play, then ball is effectively back in the Packers court. As of right now, Brian Gutekunst and Coach Matt LaFleur want Aaron Rodgers back, but this could be a deception. If the Packers believe that Jordan Love is ready, then they could still trade Rodgers away and eat the cap penalty. This has to be the first step this offseason although the next thing on this list could happen first instead.
2. Decide on Extensions and Restructures
The Packers are currently way over the 2023 NFL cap. They are approximately 21.5 million over the cap and have until the new league year in March to under it or face penalties. The best way the Packers can get under the cap is through extensions and restructures. (Although, they theoretically could rip the band-aid off and cut most of their top players, fixing their salary cap purgatory situation in which they find themselves in a year or two.)
Through extensions and restructures, the Packers could get under the cap. This is great for the current season but is also terrible for future seasons as the Packers will be “kicking the can down the road” so to speak. This basically makes it to where the Packers will delay having the cost affect them immediately and instead affect the future. Ted Thompson was great at taking care of the salary cap while Brian Gutekunst has not necessarily been the best while trying to keep Aaron Rodgers’ window open. The Packers will eventually have to pay. The day is coming.
So if the Packers are going to be using extensions and restructures to help get under the salary cap, then they will have to use these on players they believe that can help the team win. The first extension that should happen should be Rashan Gary. Gary is under the fifth year option this season and will cost the Packers almost 11 million dollars against the cap. An extension will pay Gary what he deserves and allow him to be a Packer for the foreseeable future.
Rashan Gary could very well be the only extension this offseason, although the Packers could also extend Darnell Savage who is also under the fifth year option. His option will cost the Packers quite a bit against the cap but by extending him they could reduce his cap hit. This should only take place if the Packers believe that he will continue to improve. If they do not, then they will either have to trade him or at the minimum restructure him to lower his cap hit.
These are the list of players that could see restructures this offseason:
- Preston Smith
- David Bakhtiari
- Aaron Jones
- DeVondre Campbell
- Rasul Douglas
- Pat O’Donnell
- Jaire Alexander
- Kenny Clark
3. Possibly Make Cuts and Trades
The restructure list above is also the same list for possible trades and cuts. The Packers will only restructure the players they can afford and believe will continue to play at a high level. I don’t foresee them trading or cutting Aaron Jones, Jaire Alexander, or Kenny Clark, but Pat O’Donnell could be a cut.
4. Sign Packers Free Agents
The Packers have many free agents this offseason and most of them will be hard to keep. The Packers, however, will want to keep a few key players from hitting free agency.
First thing, the Packers will have to tender Restricted Free Agent Yosh Nijman. Nijman has been too good on the offensive line to let go.
Out of other unrestricted free agents, look for the Packers to try to bring back the following players:
- Rudy Ford
- Keisean Nixon
- Robert Tonyan
If Aaron Rodgers comes back and the Packers want him back, then look for these players to be signed back as well:
- Randall Cobb
- Mason Crosby
- Marcedes Lewis
- Allen Lazard
This discrepancy is dependent all on Aaron Rodgers coming back to the Packers. If he doesn’t come back, then I would expect the above list of players not to come back.
This is the Packers to-do list. These have to happen for the Packers this offseason. This to-do list has to be complete before the NFL new league year begins in March. That is, of course, when the real fun begins in regards to free agency and the NFL draft. But before we get there, a ton of stuff still has to be done.
Until then, your guess is as good as mine.——————
Damon is a diehard, fully-immersed cheesehead who currently lives in southern Missouri. He teaches at a local high school and has a family YouTube channel about all things Packers. You can follow him on twitter at @packersfamily and on YouTube at The Packers Family.