GREEN BAY, Wis. — With top players heading into free agency and a $50 million hole in the salary cap, the Green Bay Packers present themselves as a very, very different team when they hit the grass for team activities organized in May. .
Six players who started Saturday night’s playoff loss to the 49ers, including All-Pro receiver Davante Adams and All-Pro linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, are set to become unrestricted free agents. This list does not include potential cap-saving cuts, like wide receiver Randall Cobb, or restricted free agents, like wide receiver Allen Lazard.
The team must be under the cap at the start of the league year on March 16.
“I’m confident we’ll all work together to try and get as many guys back as humanly possible,” coach Matt LaFleur said Monday. “I had a lot of success with those guys and they brought a lot to this team. But I also realize that there are going to be difficult decisions, as there are every year. And you have to find a way to make some of those tough decisions and try to complete them in some other way through the draft or other players that might be there.
Here’s a look at the Packers’ depth charts. These are based on the depth chart published on Packers.com, and we’ve sprinkled in players returning from injured reserve. Players who will be unrestricted free agents have been crossed out.
(“IR” notes players who finished the season on injured reserve. “PS” notes players who finished the season on the practice squad and received a term contract. “F” notes players who were not with the team at the end of the season but were given a term contract.Restricted free agents (three years of experience) and exclusive free agents (two years or less) are not crossed out because the Packers have contractual control over those players.)
Quarterback Depth Chart
Aaron Rodgers, Jordan Love, Kurt Benkert (PS), Danny Etling (F).
As long as Rodgers comes back — and the Packers say they want him back — then the top of the depth chart is set. If Rodgers returns, will the Packers keep Love and can Benkert keep Etling?
Recoil Depth Chart
Aaron Jones, AJ Dillon, Kylin Hill (IR), Patrick Taylor.
The Packers will have Jones and Dillon through at least the 2022 season. Jones’ cap for 2022 is $9.75 million, but there’s no cap savings to releasing him and moving forward with Dillon. as the undisputed No. 1. If Aaron Rodgers does not return, it will be up to these two to carry the offensive. Literally.
Receiver Depth Charts
Davante Adams, Equanime Saint-BrownJuwann Winfree.
WR 2: Allen Lazard,
Marquez Valdes-ScantlingMalik Taylor (IR), Chris Blair (PS).
Slot machine: Randall Cobb, Amari Rodgers, Rico Gafford (F).
Adams will be the best player in free agency — assuming the Packers let him into free agency. They could use the franchise tag, which is incredibly expensive at around $20 million, though that could be a placeholder for a long-term extension if the Packers officially tie their wagon to Rodgers for the long haul.
Valdes-Scantling has had a quiet season due to injuries but is a proven threat to big players and could be left out of Green Bay. Lazard will be a restricted free agent. His gritty skills might be valued more by the Packers than other teams.
Cobb is under contract through 2022, but capped at around $9.6 million. The Packers could move on and create more than $6.8 million in cap space. It wouldn’t be a popular move in Rodgers’ eyes; again, Rodgers only threw him one pass on Saturday night.
Offensive Line Depth Maps
LT: David Bakhtiari, Yosh Nijman.
LG: Elgton Jenkins (IR), Jon Runyan.
C: Josh Myers, Jake Hanson, Michal Menet (PS).
RT: Billy Turner
Dennis KellyCole Van Lanen (PS).
In a perfect world, maybe the Packers could let Patrick and Kelly walk, save $3.4 million by releasing Turner, and line up with a five-man squad consisting of Bakhtiari, Jenkins, Myers, Runyan/Newman and Nijman. But if this year has taught you anything, it’s that offensive line depth is vital.
Narrow End Depth Charts
Robert Tonyan (IR)Josiah Deguara, Tyler Davis.
TE 2: Marcedes Lewis, Dominique Dafney.
After a breakout season of 11 touchdowns in 2020, few people in the NFL have lost as much money in 2021 as Tonyan due to his midseason ACL tear. Maybe he’ll be ready at some point in training camp, but will he be the same threat on the pitch? The beloved Lewis, whose breakaway turned the tables on Saturday, is under contract for 2022 with a cap of around $4.5 million. They could release him and save $2.4 million, but who would block?
Defensive Line Depth Charts
FROM: Dean Lowry.
NT: Kenny Clark, TJ Slaton.
Tyler LancasterJack Heflin (F).
Lancaster has been a reliable meat and potato advocate. Will his last key play be the blocked basket he allowed? With the late-season exit of Kingsley Keke and the decisions not to retain practice squad players Abdullah Anderson and RJ McIntosh, the Packers are incredibly thin on the defensive line. And that’s with Lowry on the roster at a cap of $8 million (potential savings of $4 million). The D line and the receiver will need several additions in the draft.
Outside Linebackers Depth Charts
OLB: Preston Smith,
Whitney MercilusTipa Galeai, Randy Ramsey (IR).
OLB: Rashan Gary, Za’Darius Smith, Jonathan Garvin, Chauncey Rivers (IR), La’Darius Hamilton (PS).
The Texans dumped Mercilus to escape the remainder of a four-year, $54 million contract. The Packers paid him the league minimum. He will be 32 before camp. The big question is what the Packers will do with The Smith Bros. With a cap charge of nearly $27.7 million, the Packers could save $15.3 million by releasing Za’Darius Smith. With a cap charge of $19.75 million, the Packers could save $12.5 million by releasing Preston Smith. The first seems much more likely than the second. Preston Smith had a great rebounding season and made a great tandem with Gary. An extension would remove the stinger from its maximum load.
Inside Linebackers Depth Charts
ILB: Krys Barnes,
Oren BurkRay Wilborn (PS).
HE B :
De’Vondre CampbellTy Summers (IR), Isaiah McDuffie.
Campbell joined the Packers in June on a one-year contract worth $2 million. He expects to earn an annual salary five times that of a free agent after an All-Pro season in which he was a dominant, game-changing player on the court and a popular player in the locker room. The good news is that he was a player on the pitch. The bad news is that he probably pulled out of Green Bay. If so, it would create a giant hole in the middle of the defense.
Cornerback Depth Charts
Rasul Douglas, Kevin KingKiondre Thomas (F).
Slot machine: Jaire Alexander,
Chandon SullivanShemar Jean-Charles.
DC 2: Eric Stokes, Kabion Ento (PS).
Did any player in the league get a bigger raise than linebacker De’Vondre Campbell? It could be Douglas, who was dropped from Arizona’s practice squad in October. The good news is that he saved the defense following Alexander’s shoulder injury. The bad news is that he probably got a lucrative contract somewhere else. The underrated Sullivan played the fifth most snaps on defense. In five seasons, King has played 40% snaps in just two of his five seasons.
If the Packers can somehow keep Douglas, a three-man squad of Douglas and Stokes on the perimeter and Alexander in the slot would be about as good as the NFL can get.
Safe Depth Charts
SS: Adrian Amos, Vernon Scott, Shawn Davis.
FS: Darnell Savage, Henry Black, Innis Gaines (PS).
Safety is the only position with no free agent planned, although the rock-solid and extremely reliable Amos could be an economic cut simply because the team has to find the money somewhere. With a cap load of nearly $12 million, switching would save about $4.7 million from the cap.
Special Teams Depth Charts
K: Mason Crosby, JJ Molson (PS).
LS: Steven Wirtel.
Bojorquez has plenty of talent, but consistency and staying power were issues. Crosby is under contract until 2022 and is coming off a dismal season – not entirely his fault – and will turn 38 just before the start of the season. The Packers would save $2.4 million off the cap by creating a kicking competition for rocket-legged Molson.