The final whistle of the Super Bowl marks the end of the 2021 season. That solidifies all draft positions and gets us looking to free agency as the next chance for teams to make significant changes to their rosters. In this series, I’ll break down the needs and goals of every team as it relates to the 2022 offseason. Included will be cap space, cut candidates, positions of need, and plenty of other useful stats and notes as we prepare for free agency and the 2022 NFL Draft. Special thanks to Over the Cap, Pro Football Reference, Pro Football Focus, and Ben Baldwin’s RBSDM.com for all of the useful stats they track and house.
Packers 2021 Recap
Aaron Rodgers made the 2020 offseason as entertaining as possible by threatening to refuse to play for the Packers. The reigning MVP was reportedly at odds with his franchise, and things had gotten so bad that he was considering retirement. It wasn’t until the start of training camp that the public knew Rodgers would indeed return to Green Bay, possibly for the last time. One vaccine-based (immunization-based?) media circus, a second MVP, 37 touchdowns and 18 weeks later, the Packers had coasted to the playoffs with a first-round bye in hand. Rodgers tossed 37 touchdowns and seven interceptions while rushing for another three scores. Davante Adams followed up his incredible 2020 season with an encore that featured 1,553 yards and 11 scores. Green Bay looked unstoppable heading into the postseason but the 49ers begged to differ. They held Rodgers and company to 10 points, removing them from the playoff picture after just one game.
Key Offensive Stats
- Points per game: 26.5 (10th)
- Dropback EPA: .22 (1st)
- Passing yards per game: 254 (8th)
- Rush EPA: -.003 (6th)
- Rushing yards per game: 112 (18th)
Rodgers worked his typical brand of football to perfection last year. He posted a seven percent touchdown rate with a .8 percent interception rate. Both marks led the league. Rodgers’ .26 EPA per play also paced the league. No other quarterback came particularly close to matching that number. The Packers didn't have a receiver outside of Adams who posted a target share over 15 percent. Adams also held a 1,000-yard lead over the rest of his teammates. After doing almost nothing as a rookie, AJ Dillon showed up in a big way in 2021. He led the team with 803 rushing yards while adding another 313 through the air. Aaron Jones missed three games but still scored 10 times.
Key Defensive Stats
- Points per game: 21.8 (13th)
- Dropback EPA: .03 (14th)
- Passing yards per game: 219 (10th)
- Rush EPA: -.01 (30th)
- Rushing yards per game: 109 (10th)
The Packers’ defense was headlined by a pair of unheralded, breakout seasons. Both came from linebackers, but one, De’Vondre Campbell, was on the inside and the other, Rashan Gary, came from the edge. Campbell racked up 146 combined tackles while recording a 2.9 percent missed tackle rate. That was the lowest rate Pro Football Focus recorded for a qualified linebacker. He earned his first First-Team All-Pro nod after being left out of the Pro Bowl discussion through five seasons as a pro. Gary tallied 9.5 sacks and two forced fumbles in his third season. Campbell is about to be a free agent while Gary has another year on his contract and then the fifth-year option is available.
Packers 2022 Offseason
Total Draft Value
Notable Free Agents
|WR Davante Adams (franchise tagged), MLB De'Vondre Campbell, WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling, LG Lucas Patrick, TE Robert Tonyan, CB Chandon Sullivan, CB Rasul Douglas|
OLB Za'Darius Smith ($15.3 million in savings), OLB Preston Smith ($12.5 million), WR Randall Cobb ($6.7 million), DE Dean Lowry ($4.1 million)
Notes: Green Bay's total draft value is the sum of the value of every pick they own using the Fitzgerald-Spielberger NFL Draft Trade Value Chart. The values are only estimates until the NFL announces compensatory picks. Cap savings are listed assuming the player is cut before June 1st.
The details of Rodgers’ new contract are unknown but the initial reports have indicated that it will reduce his cap hit over the next two years. That’s good news for Green Bay as they have a lot of fancy accounting to do in order to get under the cap. They already restructured the deals of Kenny Clark, David Bakhtiari, and Aaron Jones. The moves saved them around $23 million against the cap this year but more restructures and some cuts are on the horizon.
Tonyan missed the second half of the season with a torn ACL but was doing little with the starting role before going down. He topped 50 yards twice in eight games while averaging seven yards per target. If Tonyan is brought back, expect him to be on a team-friendly deal.
Campbell’s emergence as a stud interior linebacker could earn him a contract that Green Bay can’t match. Krys Barnes started 13 games at inside linebacker last year but was nothing more than a replacement-level player. Even if the Packers can't afford an All-Pro at inside linebacker, they will need to add someone to the roster.
Lowry could be cut to save money and Tyler Lancaster is headed to free agency after a forgettable season. Gary, Clark, and one of the Smiths give Green Bay plenty of firepower for getting to quarterbacks so this is a position that they can fill through low-cost free agents. All they need are modest compliments to their current roster and to fulfill this need.
Off the back of two MVP seasons from their quarterback, the Packers lost offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett and quarterbacks coach Luke Getsy to promotions elsewhere in the league. Tight ends coach Justin Outten also followed Hackett to Denver. Offensive line coach Adam Stenavich was promoted to OC while receivers coach Jason Vrable added passing game coordinator to his duties. The replacements at tight ends coach and offensive line coach were also made in-house.
The only notable staffers hired not from within were Raiders interim head coaching Rich Bisaccia resuming his duties as a special teams coordinator and former Packers OC Tom Clements rejoining the team as their quarterbacks coach. GM Brian Gutekunst and HC Matt LaFleur filled every position with the goal of carrying the team's 2021 look forward. Expect another slow but successful offense in 2022. The quick-passing and lucrative use of play-action will also make triumphant returns.
The Packers can acquire some extra draft capital by finding a buyer for Jordan Love but, other than that, they are mostly stuck with the roster they currently have. The good news is that squad includes a quarterback with four MVPs to his name and a wideout with more receiving yards since 2016 than any other player. Tack on an elite running back tandem plus a few defensive playmakers and the Packers have still have the bones of a roster that went 16-7 over the past two years. They simply need to convert their regular season success into postseason wins. Rodgers hasn’t won two games in a single postseason since 2016 and is over a decade removed from his only Super Bowl win. He will look to rewrite his January woes in the coming season.