Five Packers who might not be back in 2022.
In what many are calling the ‘Last Dance’ for the Green Bay Packers, this is very much a make-or-break season.
They’ve started 4-1 and are off to an excellent start, but this season needs to end with a Lombardi Trophy or it will be hard not to feel like they’ve missed an opportunity over the past few years.
A big reason for that is many key players on this year’s roster likely won’t be back in 2022. Here are five players who could be gone next season.
Talks over a new deal between Davante Adams and the Packers stalled over the summer, and Adams’ value is rising by the week. Adams is coming off a career-year that saw him earn first-team All-Pro honors, and he’s picked up where he left off this season.
Through five weeks, Adams has an NFL-best 579 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Even when he’s double-covered, defenses can’t stop him.
With limited cap room, the Packers may struggle to make Adams the highest-paid wide receiver in football.
A former starter along the offensive line, Lucas Patrick has been a backup for the Packers so far this season. He started in place of an injured Josh Myers at center last week and performed well.
Patrick is a solid player and should see plenty of interest if he hits free agency. With Green Bay investing multiple draft picks at the interior offensive line positions in recent years, the team could be happy to move on from Patrick as he enters his age-29 season.
Star edge rusher Za’Darius Smith hasn’t played since the season opener, and it’s entirely possible he’s played his final snap in Green Bay.
The Packers will have a decision to make in the spring. Smith’s 2022 cap hit is a huge $28.13 million, according to Over The Cap. It’s possible Green Bay will be entering a rebuild next year, so keeping Smith on that contract wouldn’t make a lot of sense.
Unless they spread the cap hit over multiple years in an extension, the team could decide to move on and save over $15 million.
The Smith Bros. came to Green Bay together and it’s possible they will leave together. Preston Smith’s 2022 cap hit is $19.75 million, but that’s far too high. The Packers can save $12.5 million if they move on.
Rebuilding the pass rush around Rashan Gary might be priority number one in the offseason.
The moment this season ends, the talk about Aaron Rodgers’ future will again return. The Packers made it clear they wouldn’t trade Rodgers in 2021, and they stuck to that. The MVP returned and is having another great season.
Next spring could be a different story. Rodgers is due a cap hit of $46.14 million. Unless he is willing to commit his long-term future to Green Bay and sign an extension, and the Packers don’t want to lose him, it looks most likely this season will be his last in the green and gold.