Stay or go: Green Bay Packers 2021 offense

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No NFL roster stays the same from one year to the next and the Green Bay Packers are no exception.

Who might be returning to the 2021 edition of the team and which players will Packers fans bid adieu?

We take a look at every player on the roster and their contract status – i.e. how much it would cost to cut them, if they are a free agent and what kind (unrestricted, restricted, exclusive rights or street) or if the player is simply signed to a futures deal.

Who do you think should stay or go on the offensive side of the ball? Well, at the end of the article you can cast your vote for each player’s fate (presented in the order they are listed below).

All contract and salary information courtesy OverTheCap.com.

OFFENSIVE LINE

David Bakhtiari: On the last day of 2020, Bakhtiari tore his ACL. He missed four games overall during the regular season but was still tabbed first-team All-Pro by the Associated Press, PFWA and Sporting News. When he’ll return to game action is of course TBD. Salary situation: Bakhtiari recently signed a hefty extension. He’d incur in $24 million in dead money if cut or traded plus instead of a cap savings, the Packers would lose around $4.5 million in their cap. If he’s a post-June 1 cut, Green Bay would suffer $6 million in dead money but save around $13.5 million in cap savings. Our take: Is his injury career ending? No? OK, he’ll be back. Stay

Ben Braden: Braden, a guard, spent much of the year on the practice squad. He got into four plays on offense, all against San Francisco in Week 9, and a handful of special teams plays. Salary situation: He’s scheduled to receive $850,000 in 2021 with no dead money if he’s cut. Our take: He’s a little older — 27 in March. There’s always room for a project at offensive line, but perhaps it’s better if they’re younger. Go

Jake Hanson: A sixth-round draft pick out of Oregon, Hanson was signed to the practice squad after final cuts and was eventually placed on the practice squad/injured list. Salary situation: Signed to a reserve/future contract. Our take: A sixth-round pick who had a nice collegiate career is worth trying to develop for another year at least. Stay

Elgton Jenkins: The former second-round pick established himself in his second season, playing the most snaps on offense of any Packers player and being named to his first Pro Bowl. The left guard, he filled in at center when Corey Linsley missed time. Salary situation: Still on his rookie deal with just under $1.5 million in dead money if he’s cut or traded. Our take: Looking like a really good second-round pick. Stay

Zack Johnson: The 6-foot-6, 301-pound guard spent all season on the practice squad. He was signed as an undrafted free agent out of North Dakota, where he played in 54 games with 46 starts. Salary situation: Signed to a reserve/future contract. Our take: A team needs camp bodies, especially on the O-line, so why not see if he’s worth keeping? Stay

Corey Linsley: Green Bay’s starting center since 2014, Linsley played in 13 games in 2020, ending a streak of three consecutive years appearing in every game. He has 99 games with the Packers – and 99 starts. Salary situation: Unrestricted free agent. Our take: One of the toughest decisions for the Packers this offseason. For what it’s worth, Linsley was the top-ranked center by Pro Football Focus. On the flip side, he’ll be 30 next season and Jenkins could slide over to center. Green Bay has some cap issues to solve as well, so … Go

Yosh Nijman: The big (6-7, 314) tackle was signed as undrafted free agent out of Virginia Tech last season, spending the year on the practice squad. Nijman appeared in all 16 games in 2020, with limited snaps on offense (14) and special teams (81). Salary situation: Exclusive-rights free agent. Our take: EFAs are easy to re-sign and then cut if they don’t pan out. Stay

Lucas Patrick: After being mainly a backup his first three seasons in Green Bay, Patrick started 15 games in 2020, appearing in the third-most offensive snaps. Salary situation: If cut/traded, would incur just roughly $117,000 in dead money with $1.95 million in cap savings. Our take: As either a starter or backup he’s worth it. The cap savings really wouldn’t be that much. Stay

Jon Runyan: Rookie sixth-round pick had 160 offensive snaps with 100 of those coming against Indianapolis and Chicago in Weeks 11-12 (50 each game). Salary situation: Approximately $130,000 in dead money if cut/traded with around $692,000 in cap savings. Our take: Got on the field as a sixth-round rookie, which is a good sign. Stay

Simon Stepaniak: A sixth-round pick in 2020, Stepaniak was activated from the non-football injury list on Dec. 9. He didn’t play in any games before being put on injured reserve Jan. 12. Salary situation: Roughly $114,000 in dead money if cut/traded with an approx. $703,000 cap savings. Our take: Need to see what he can do when healthy. Stay

Lane Taylor: Taylor took less money to return to the Packers then was injured in Week 1, lost for the season with a knee injury. He turns 32 in November. Salary situation: Unrestricted free agent. Our take: He’s already taken one big pay cut, hard to see two. Packers need to get younger on the starting offensive line and can’t just be throwing money around. Go

Billy Turner: After starting at guard in 2019, Turner moved to right tackle in 2020. He eventually moved to left tackle after Bakhtiari was injured, and acquitted himself well, although he struggled in the NFC championship. Salary situation: Turner is on Year 3 of a four-year contract he signed as a free agent. Green Bay would have $4.5 million in dead money and just over $3.9 million in cap savings if he were cut/traded. Those numbers would be $2.25M and $6.175M is he was a post-June 1 casualty. Our take: Yes, cutting Turner would help the cap situation, especially with a post-June 1 designation. But he proved he was more than capable of holding down the right tackle spot. Basically, we think this might come down to he or Wagner. Stay

Jared Veldheer: Signed in the postseason after being cut by Indianapolis following their playoff loss, Veldheer never suited up as he was placed on the COVID-19/reserve list. Veldheer appeared in two games with the Packers in 2019. Salary situation: Unrestricted free agent. Our take: It was a nice story for a second. Time to close that book. Go

Rick Wagner: Ostensibly signed to be a backup, Wagner ended up starting nine games and playing in all 16 as he moved from guard to tackle as needed. He ended up appearing in 63.8% of Green Bay’s offensive snaps, including playoffs. Salary situation: Has one year left on his two-year contract. Would be $1.75 million in dead money if cut/traded with $4.25 million in cap savings. There’d be no change to this numbers if he’s a post-June 1 transaction. Our take: It’s nice to have an experienced player who can play guard or tackle. But Green Bay will have roughly $25 million (and perhaps as high as $28M) to clear off the books before the start of the league year to get under the cap. Go

 

QUARTERBACK

Tim Boyle: The backup the past two seasons, Boyle appeared in eight games in 2020 and didn’t attempt a pass, although he was sacked once and “ran” for minus-9 yards on 13 carries (thank you kneeldowns). Salary situation: Restricted free agent. Our take: We don’t see anyone offering Boyle a contract (which Green Bay could match, if it was so inclined). But if the Packers want a third quarterback, they can just draft one late instead of paying veteran money. Go

Jordan Love: Love was the first quarterback selected in the first round of the NFL draft to not take a snap in the season he was drafted since Washington’s Jason Campbell in 2005. One other thing Love and Campbell have in common — both their teams traded up to get them at No. 25 overall. Salary situation: Green Bay would incur over $10 million in dead money and lose over $7.3 million in cap space by cutting/trading Love. A post-June 1 move would lower those numbers to approx. $6.8M and $4M. Our take: To all the haters – sorry, he’s not going anywhere. At worst, he’s the No. 2 in 2021. Stay

Aaron Rodgers: The likely NFL MVP led the league in completion percentage (70.7%), passing touchdowns (48), interception percentage (1.0%) and quarterback rating (121.5) while throwing for 4,299 yards. He created a bit of a stir with some postgame comments following the NFC championship regarding his future. It’s hard to see him gone in 2021. Now, 2022 on the other hand … Salary situation: The Packers would endure over $31.5 million in dead money and save just about $5.5 million if he were to be cut or traded. As a post-June 1 transaction, those numbers change to approx. $14.3M and $22.7M. Our take: Look at that dead money. If you say, “Post-June 1!” what team wants to wait until June 1 to get its QB? (Answer: None.) Barring Rodgers forcing a trade, he’s the starting quarterback for one more year. Hey, he might even get (another) deal out of this. Stay

 

RUNNING BACK

AJ Dillon: Due to COVID-19 issues and the success of other backs, Dillon only had 122 offensive snaps in 2020 in his rookie season. Playing in 11 games, he rushed for 242 yards – 124 against Tennessee – on 46 carries (5.3 average) with two touchdowns. He’s primed for a large role in 2021. Salary situation: Just under $1.8 million in dead money and a cap charge of slightly below $600,000. There’s a minuscule cap savings of $104,265 if cut or traded after June 1. Our take: RB1. Stay

Tyler Ervin: Ervin played in eight games before landing on injured reserve. He finished with 13 carries for 67 yards and 11 receptions for 84 yards while also returning kicks (19.6 average on 10 kick returns with a touchdown and 4.0 average on five punt returns). Salary situation: Unrestricted free agent. Our take: Rodgers seems to like him, but that hasn’t meant much the past few years. You can find his type all over the place and a lot cheaper. Go

Aaron Jones: Jones has far outplayed his fifth-round draft selection in 2017, rushing for over 1,000 yards in back-to-back seasons. In 2020 he had 1,104 rushing yards (5.5 average) with nine touchdowns and 47 catches for 355 yards with two TDs. Our take: It’s hard to match his productivity. But it will also be hard to give him the contract he wants. Big, long-term contracts for running backs generally don’t turn out well for the team. This one won’t be easy, but … Go

Patrick Taylor: An undrafted free agent out of Memphis, Taylor was placed on the non-football injury list and didn’t even participate in training camp. Taylor ran for 1,122 yards as a junior with the Tigers but missed much of his senior year with a foot injury. Salary situation: There’s a very minimal $4,667 in dead money and $657,666 in cap savings is he’s cut or traded. Our take: Depends on his health, but if he’s good to go, might as well see what he’s got. Stay

Mike Weber: A seventh-round pick of Dallas in 2019, Weber was signed to Green Bay’s practice squad in mid-November. Salary situation: Signed to a reserve/future contract. Our take: For him to be signed late and kept, the Packers might just be intrigued. Stay

Dexter Williams: A sixth-round pick in 2019, Williams has spent the majority of his time on Green Bay’s practice squad. He has 19 yards on seven carries in his two seasons. Salary situation: Signed to a reserve/future contract. Our take: He’s had two years to do something and hasn’t. Time for new blood. Go

Jamaal Williams: The fourth-round pick in 2017 ended up taking a backseat to Jones the past couple seasons, but he did rush for 505 yards this past season with 31 receptions for 236 yards. He ran for no fewer than 460 yards and no more than 556 yards in each of his four seasons. Salary situation: Unrestricted free agent. Our take: The big question will be how much will it cost to keep him and will another team envision him in a bigger role? Would be a nice luxury to have but not sure Green Bay can afford any luxuries at the moment. Go

 

SPECIAL TEAMS

Mason Crosby: In his 14th season with the Packers, Crosby hit on all 16 of his field-goal attempts and his long of 57 was his best since 2013. He made 93.7% of his extra-point attempts, his lowest percentage since 2016. Crosby also had a touchback percentage of 58.5%, the second highest of his career. His 63.9 yards per kickoff was a personal best. Salary situation: It would cost $2 million in dead money with a $2.5 million cap savings if Crosby were cut or dealt. If post-June 1, those numbers change to $1 million and $3.5 million. Our take: He’s had some competition before and outlasted them all. Will this be the year? Potential cap casualty. Stay

JJ Molson: An undrafted rookie out of UCLA, Molson was signed to the practice squad on Dec. 22. He also spent time on the Los Angeles Chargers’ practice squad this past season. Salary situation: Signed to a reserve/future contract. Our take: Might as well see what he’s got in camp. No harm in that. Stay

 

TIGHT END

Dominque Dafney: The undrafted free agent out of Indiana State was signed to the practice squad Oct. 12 and later to the active roster. He played in five regular-season games, with two starts, catching two passes for two yards. He appeared on 105 offensive snaps in his brief time, including playoffs. Salary situation: There is no dead money if he is cut or traded, with a cap savings of $780,000. Our take: As you’ll see, the Packers have a glut of tight ends, but Dafney showed a little something in his brief foray. Stay

Josiah Deguara: An injury sidelined the third-round pick’s rookie year as he appeared in just 31 offensive snaps. Deguara had one catch for 12 yards. Salary situation: There’s about $650,000 in dead money and just under $383,000 in cap savings if he’s cut or traded. Our take: Deguara tore his ACL in October. Maybe he needs some time to get back in shape, but barring complications you don’t give up on a third-round pick this early. Stay

Bronson Kaufusi: Listed a tight end, Kaufusi spent the first three years of his NFL career as a defensive lineman. Baltimore took him in the third round of the 2016 draft. He’s 6-6, 270. Salary situation: Signed to a reserve/future contract. Our take: We just want to see a 6-6, 270-pound tight end. Stay

Marcedes Lewis: Green Bay’s blocking tight end finished with 10 receptions for 107 yards and three touchdowns in his 15th season. He turns 37 in May. Salary situation: Unrestricted free agent. Our take: To be honest, we didn’t expect him to be back in 2020. But he performed well in his role. A 37-year-old tight end isn’t out of the question, but it’s rare. There’s been nine that age (and 13 total times) who have caught a pass in NFL history, but most were highly productive receivers. Only three had fewer than 20 catches with the last coming in 2007. Our take: Go

John Lovett: More of a hybrid fullback/tight end, the former college quarterback had three carries for six yards — and no catches — in 2020 before being placed on injured reserve. Salary situation: There is no dead money if he is cut or traded, with a cap savings of $780,000. Our take: Matt LaFleur loves his tight ends, but Lovett seems more like a fullback. The Packers need to save money somewhere. It’s not much here, but you can find Lovetts anywhere. Go

Isaac Nauta: A seventh-round pick of Detroit in 2019, Nauta was signed to the Packers’ practice squad Dec. 12. He had one catch for three yards with the Lions in 2020 and two for 13 yards the previous year. Salary situation: Signed to a reserve/future contract. Our take: The fact he was signed in December and was kept on a futures deal indicates maybe we’ll be seeing him in camp. Stay

Jace Sternberger: The 2019 third-round pick appeared in 12 games but none after Week 13. He had 12 receptions for 114 yards and a touchdown in 2020. Salary situation: Has $503,264 in dead money with a cap savings of $628,368 if cut/traded. Our take: A concussion knocked him out of Week 13 and he didn’t play again, although he was considered a healthy scratch in both playoff games. Stay

Robert Tonyan: Tonyan had a breakout season in his third year, catching 52 passes (on 59 targets) for 586 yards with 11 touchdowns. Salary situation: Restricted free agent. Our take: The Packers could be in a precarious situation if another team comes calling with a big contract. Stay

 

WIDE RECEIVER

Davante Adams: Adams earned a fourth straight Pro Bowl nod and was selected a first-team All-Pro for the first time after corralling a career-high 115 receptions for 1,374 yards and an NFL-best 18 touchdowns. This just in: He’s pretty, pretty, pretty good. Salary situation: Green Bay would have a $13.25 million cap savings and take on $3.6 million in dead money if Adams were, for some reason, cut or traded. A post-June 1 designation would not change those numbers. Our take: Do we need to even discuss? Stay

Tavon Austin: A late signing by the Packers, Austin played in four regular-season games and two playoff contests. He had 20 receiving yards on four catches in the regular season. He was inserted as Green Bay’s punt returner and tallied 14 yards on three returns in the regular season and nine yards on two returns in the playoffs. Salary situation: Unrestricted free agent. Our take: Didn’t provide much of a spark. Go

Reggie Begelton: CFL veteran spent most of the year on the practice squad but was active for the Week 4 game against Atlanta had appeared in two offensive and two special-teams snaps. Salary situation: Signed to a reserve/future contract. Our take: Worth another look in camp? Stay

Chris Blair: A rookie from Alcorn State – Donald Driver’s school – Blair wasn’t on an NFL roster in 2020. Salary situation: Signed to a reserve/future contract. Our take: Interesting late signing. Guess Packers want to at least see what they have here. Stay

Devin Funchess: Signed as a free agent, Funchess opted out of the 2020 season. Salary situation: $1 million of dead money with a cap savings of a little under $1.3 million if cut or traded, regardless of date. Our take: Signing Funchess didn’t impress us at the time. Go

Allen Lazard: Lazard had similar numbers to 2019 although he played in six fewer games in 2020 due to a core injury. He finished with 33 catches for 451 yards and three touchdowns. Salary situation: Exclusive-rights free agent. Our take: Has emerged as a fine third or fourth wide receiver. Stay

Seth Roberts: The veteran wide receiver, who has 183 career catches, was signed to the practice squad Oct. 31 after being cut by Carolina. Salary situation: Unrestricted free agent. Our take: Did you know he was on the roster? Go

Equanimeous St. Brown: After missing the entire 2019 season, the 2018 sixth-round pick played in 12 games and grabbed seven receptions for 117 yards and a touchdown. Salary situation: Cutting him would cost $29,602 in dead money while saving $850,000 on the cap. Our take: Has never really stood out, other than when maybe dropping a two-point conversion, and has a career 57.1 catch percentage. Go

Malik Taylor: The former undrafted free agent from Ferris State appeared in 15 games (with one start) for the Packers in 2020, recording five catches for 55 yards with a touchdown. He also returned nine kicks at an 18.6-yard clip. He had two kick returns in the playoffs totaling 43 yards. Salary situation: Exclusive-rights free agent. Our take: Ostensibly the team’s kick returner he didn’t show much. Easy to keep as an EFR. Go

Marquez Valdes-Scantling: The third-year receiver and former fifth-round pick had 33 receptions and set career highs with 690 yards and six TDs. His 20.9 yards per catch led the NFL. He was the first Packers player to have a 20+-yard receiving average with more than eight catches since Walter Stanley in 1986. Salary situation: Cutting him would cost $54,389 in dead money while saving $2,183,000 on the cap. Our take: Maddingly inconsistent. Had a 52.4% catch pct. — only Deguara, who had two targets, was worse on the Packers — but MVS was the team’s only true big-play threat. Stay

Juwann Winfree: Signed to the practice squad in October, Winfree was brought up to the active roster for games against the Jaguars in Week 10 and Lions in Week 14. The former Colorado wideout, a sixth-round pick of Denver in 2019, played eight offensive snaps and 21 on special teams. He did not record a statistic. Salary situation: Signed to a reserve/future contract. Our take: Seems like someone who at worst will be a camp body. Stay

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