Pay Or Pass?: Examining the Packers 2021 Unrestricted Free Agents

Ryan Sjoberg | @Ryan_Sjoberg

A big off-season is looming on the horizon for the Green Bay Packers. With only a couple departures after this season, next year could be a whole different story as multiple key fixtures in Green Bay could be allowed to leave. Let’s examine the five biggest names for the Pack and make a decision… Do the Packers pay? Do the Packers pass?

David Bakhtiari – OT

The Packers giving out 3rd contracts to a non-QB is few and far between. For a guy protecting said QB’s blindside? The case can be made there. David Bakhtiari is a pro’s pro. A true star at the left tackle position. Since this is so hard to find in the NFL, the original thought is to pay the man what he wants, right? Maybe. #69 (nice) currently makes $12 million per year. Figuring his next deal is expected to be quite a bit higher than the current deal and the cap situation is not as set and stone going forward (thanks, Covid-19), this is no longer as easy of a decision as once thought. Looking at the quality of play, Bakhtiari is still playing at a really high level. Consistently a top 5 left tackle for the past 4 seasons, I still don’t think the Packers have any choice but to pony up.

Consensus: PAY

Contract: 4 years, $64M ($16M AAV)

Kenny Clark – DT

It’s pretty scary when you look at all the production Kenny Clark has had in his career and learn he is still only 24. In 2019, Clark was playing injured for much of the season. That didn’t stop him from finishing top 5 in the league in 3rd down pressures, top 4 in the league in 3rd down pressure rate and top 2 in run stops. When I say Green Bay needs to pay the man… PAY THE MAN! Clark is a bonafide star who hasn’t even entered his athletic prime yet. He is one of maybe two or three other nose tackles in the league who present a true pass rushing threat. Getting Clark on a 4-5-maybe even 6
year deal would be smart of a team that has a knack for looking towards the future.

Consensus: PAY

Contract: 5 years, $95M ($19M AAV)

Corey Linsley – C

Corey Linsley is in a tough position. He’s trying to get a 3rd contract from a team that is historically averse to handing those out. His team just drafted three interior lineman. I don’t really see a scenario where Linsley is a Packer beyond 2020. One has to figure he will be looking for similar value to what he got last time around ($8.5M AAV) and I don’t think the Packers have the room to swing it. The team also drafted Jake Hanson, center out of Oregon, who I am a lot higher on than most. I see Hanson being the center for the future of the the Packers.

Consensus: PASS

Contract via Free Agency: 2 years, $18.5M ($9.25M AAV)

Aaron Jones – RB

This could be the most scrutinized move of the off-season. To pay or not to pay a running back? I’m ALWAYS in the camp that you should NOT pay big cash for a running back. Will Jones garner elite running back money? That’s the question everyone is asking. No one thinks he is going to get Zeke Elliot money, but what about $10 million per season? Would the Packers pay that or turn to their young guy Aj Dillon? As much as it pains me to type this, I think this will be 33’s last season in Green Bay as well. Before the draft, my answer would have been different. Seeing how the draft played out and how early the team invested in a running back, I don’t think there is much choice but to move on and let another team pay the running back that developed well for the green and gold.

Consensus: Pass

Contract via Free Agency: 3 years, $36M ($12M AAV)

Kevin King – CB

The most difficult decision for me came here, with Kevin King. King. While leading the Packers in interceptions last season, King was inconsistent throughout the 2019. The last five games he really turned it on. Per PFF, he had 188 coverage snaps where he allowed eight receptions, had three pass breakups, one interception, zero touchdowns and a passer rating of 44.7 when targeted. If he can keep that momentum heading into 2020, the Packers will be a lot more inclined to meet his asking price. With corners routinely getting overpaid in free agency (see Trae Waynes) I believe King will be priced out of a return to the Packers, with more lucrative offers elsewhere.

Consensus: Pass

Contract via Free Agency: 3 years, $37.5M ($12.5M AAV)

Unfortunately, the Packers can’t keep them all. With a weird salary cap situation bound to come from revenues to be lost this season, it could get a lot more interesting with surprise cuts, restructures and trades on the horizon. This Packers team could look a lot different come 2022.

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