Eric Stokes has one final opportunity with the Green Bay Packers

It's now or never for Eric Stokes.
Green Bay Packers cornerback Eric Stokes
Green Bay Packers cornerback Eric Stokes / Patrick McDermott/GettyImages

The Green Bay Packers' roster is full of amazing young talent. From one of the most youthful wide receiver rooms in the league to multiple rookies and second-year players looking to make an impact on defense.

That's why it's no surprise that someone like Eric Stokes could get lost in the shuffle of amazing talent. Now entering his fourth year, this is the kind of season that could define the rest of his career, not only in Green Bay but in the NFL.

The Packers declined Stokes' fifth-year option earlier this offseason. This decision was most likely prompted by his inability to stay on the field due to a recurring hamstring injury. Even though that may not be his fault, the NFL is a business and is treated as such.

As a result, Stokes will become a free agent after the 2024 season.

Eric Stokes is entering a make-or-break season with Packers

Between 2022 and 2023, Stokes appeared in just 12 games, and he wasn't necessarily impressive either. While being targeted 33 times, he gave up 26 completions, 340 yards, four touchdowns, and had zero interceptions or pass deflections (per Pro Football Reference).

It was a fall far from grace since his rookie season when it looked like he and Jaire Alexander could form one of the top CB duos in the league. That season, he allowed a 49.5 completion percentage, a 71.5 passer rating, and had 14 pass deflections.

Stokes went to the University of Wisconsin Madison this past offseason to figure out why these injuries kept happening.

"I think he's as good as I've ever seen him, both mentally and on the field," head coach Matt LaFleur said. "He looks fully healthy. He's doing a great job of challenging our wide receivers. He's always in great phase, I think you see that personality is back."

What made these injuries even worse was that they effectively limited his speed on the field, which is his most valuable aspect at cornerback. One of the main reasons the Packers took him was his athleticism after he ran a 4.31-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine.

If all goes well, the Packers will certainly entertain offering him a second contract. If not, we all could be looking back in five years wondering what this team would have looked like if Stokes had never been bitten by the injury bug.

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