Packers enter uncertain offseason filled with tough decisions

Green Bay Packers, Matt LaFleur (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
Green Bay Packers, Matt LaFleur (Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images) /

Aaron Rodgers isn’t going anywhere this offseason. Let’s start with that.

That said, tough decisions lie ahead for the Green Bay Packers in the coming months following another heartbreaking NFC Championship exit on Sunday.

With salary cap uncertainty and many key players from this year’s team about to hit free agency, GM Brian Gutekunst will need to pick his moments to spend money and get creative with how he frees up cap room.

Spotrac projects the Packers to be $25.79 million over the salary cap in 2021 assuming the total cap number is $175 million. That puts the Packers behind the eight ball when it comes to free agency.

First-team All-Pro center Corey Linsley is a free agent. As is Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones.

Jamaal Williams. Kevin King. Marcedes Lewis. Tyler Ervin. All free agents.

Having already committed to long-term deals with Kenny Clark and David Bakhtiari — and rightly so — there is little cap room left to work with, especially given the likelihood the cap is reduced.

Can the Packers go “all-in”?

Having finished the regular season with the No. 1-ranked offense and 13-3 with the top seed, this was a great Packers team. Back-to-back NFC title game appearances show they are close.

With Aaron Rodgers set to enter his age-38 season and still putting up insane numbers, a case can certainly be made for Gutekunst to go all-in and chase a second ring with Rodgers before he retires.

The cap situation makes it tough, but the Packers could be aggressive if they choose to. It would mean restructuring deals and pushing money into the future, but it’s possible.

However, what if they swing and miss again next season? By pushing 2021 cap hits into future years, they would be taking a huge gamble with the risk of impacting the future.

And given they spent a first-round pick on Jordan Love last spring, it would hardly be an ideal situation for him to begin life as the Packers’ starting QB a couple of years from now with the team in a salary cap mess.

Matt LaFleur’s comments postgame made it clear he expects Rodgers to be back for 2021. So we can forget about the narrative of him being traded this offseason. But how many years has Rodgers got left in Green Bay? One? Two? More than that?

After coming so close to ending their Super Bowl drought but facing an uncertain offseason with limited cap room and the possibility of losing many key contributors, what is Gutekunst’s plan for the coming months?

Tough decisions await. It’s not an easy position to be in for any GM. But the choices made between now and the summer will have a direct impact on the short-term — and potentially long-term — future of this team.