Five Packers potentially playing their final season in Green Bay in 2022

The Packers could be forced to say goodbye to some key players after the 2022 season.

If there’s one thing which is guaranteed with each passing NFL season, it’s change.

Roster turnover is a part of life in a salary cap constrained league, and the Packers are no exception. Key players have left Green Bay in recent offseasons, whether it be as a salary cap casualty or due to a decline in their play.

Back in March, Za’Darius Smith and Billy Turner were cut as the Packers set about getting under the cap, while Marquez Valdes-Scantling was allowed to reach free agency. In 2021, Corey Linsley and Jamaal Williams left Green Bay, and in 2020, Bryan Bulaga and Blake Martinez moved on.

The Packers are faced with tough decisions each and every offseason as they push the financial envelope in pursuit of another Lombardi Trophy. The same challenge will greet them in 2023, and that means several key players could be about to play their final season in Green Bay.

Aaron Jones

It came as something of a surprise when Jones was signed to a four-year extension on the eve of free agency in 2021, as many expected the Packers to let him to hit the open market rather than fork out for a running back.

When examining Jones’ contract more closely, it became obvious this was actually a team-friendly deal, giving the Packers a clear ‘out’ after the 2023 season.

Jones’ cap hit will balloon from just $5.9million in 2022 to $20million next season, and the star running back is also set to earn $16million in 2024. With Jones turning 28 this year, it would be a massive shock if he played in Green Bay in 2023 on his currently structured contract.

In AJ Dillon and Kylin Hill, the Packers have two other talented backs on the roster, and Dillon is likely to receive an extension after his rookie contract expires after the 2023 season.

A restructure would certainly be an option, but Jones is a clear cut candidate next offseason.

Adrian Amos

Amos has been one of the pillars of Green Bay’s defense since he came aboard in 2019, but the Packers may struggle to retain the safety beyond 2022.

He will have plenty of suitors in free agency who would be happy to pay top dollar, and it could be difficult for the Packers to compete in that regard.

No doubt, Green Bay will have interest in keeping Amos in town, but they will have to draw a line in the sand at some point for a player entering his age 30 season in 2023.

The Packers are already on the hook for fellow safety Darnell Savage’s fifth-year option in 2023, which will pay him $7.9million, and if Savage can rebound this season and become a key member of Green Bay’s secondary, the team may feel better about moving on from Amos.

Randall Cobb

Cobb slashed his 2022 salary through a restructure in order to stay in Green Bay for another year, but it feels like this season could be the receiver’s last, not only with the Packers, but in the NFL.

Turning 32 this year, Cobb’s presence on the team is solely down to Aaron Rodgers, but still, his veteran leadership will be sorely needed in an otherwise young and inexperienced receiver room in 2022.

However, Amari Rodgers was drafted in 2021 specifically to fill the kind of role Cobb vacated when he left for Dallas in 2019, and if Rodgers can take a step forward in his sophomore campaign, Cobb may simply not be needed beyond this year.

At some point, Cobb being on the roster is unfair to Rodgers, and it feels unlikely the Packers will keep him around in 2023 if he is only serving as a progress stopper for younger players.

Jordan Love

Aaron Rodgers’ new contract means he will almost certainly retire a Packer, and it also made the possibility of Love ever suiting up as Green Bay’s QB1 a remote one.

The Packers must make a decision on Love’s fifth-year option after the 2022 season, and it is hard to imagine GM Brian Gutekunst committing to the large cap number which comes with that designation at the quarterback position for a backup.

Assuming Green Bay declines the option, 2023 would be Love’s last year under contract with the team, and if he is able to impress during the 2022 and 2023 pre-season, the Packers may cash in on Love and trade him before they lose him for nothing.

Of course, if Rodgers decides to retire after 2022, the keys may be handed to Love, and he could go on to play for the Packers for many years, but it feels more likely the young quarterback will never truly get the chance to be ‘the guy’ in Green Bay.

Dean Lowry

Much has been made of the contract extension Dean Lowry was given back in 2019, which few could argue he has truly lived up to.

Lowry actually enjoyed a much better 2021 season than his previous couple of years, in terms of both quality and consistency, and he has more than earned his place as a steady and reliable part of Green Bay’s defense in 2022.

However, it is difficult to imagine Lowry getting another extension after his current deal expires at the end of the season. He would be entering his age 29 season and the Packers drafted a running mate for Kenny Clark with more upside in Devonte Wyatt earlier this year.

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Mark Oldacres is a sports writer from Birmingham, England and a Green Bay Packers fan. You can follow him on twitter at @Marko7LW

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Comments (33)

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Coldworld's picture

June 19, 2022 at 01:11 pm

You missed the self-proclaimed possibility of this being Rodgers’ last year. It’s almost certainly Cobb’s last year but more likely still that it’s the last year for Lewis and possibly Bakh’s and Crosby’s too

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dobber's picture

June 19, 2022 at 01:33 pm

...and what do all four of those players have in common?

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Oppy's picture

June 19, 2022 at 01:54 pm

I'll take "Things that rhyme with Sold" for $500, Alex.

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Return_To_Sanity's picture

June 19, 2022 at 03:38 pm

They're all Rodgers' buddies.

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ricky's picture

June 19, 2022 at 02:36 pm

The problem is that if the Packers move on from Rodgers after this year, the dead cap would be about $100 million. The rules are slightly different if he retires, but the dead cap would still be staggering. So, effectively, Rodgers has the Packers where he wants them: at his mercy. After next year (2023), though, it is a much more manageable (though disagreeable) at about $25 million. So, effectively, Rodgers is a Packer for two years. Or, if he decides to retire, he causes the team to face financial disaster. So, if the team doesn't sign Love to his fifth year option, they are in the hunt for a new QB. Along with a lot of other teams. We do, indeed, live in interesting times.

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Jriegler's picture

June 19, 2022 at 03:02 pm

That is incorrect. His dead cap is actually about 40 mill in 2023 if gone. It goes up the longer he plays.

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Return_To_Sanity's picture

June 19, 2022 at 03:40 pm

The pre-June 1st dead cap hit if they trade or release Rodgers next offseason is $99 million. Post-June 1st that number drops to $31 million.

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TarynsEyes's picture

June 19, 2022 at 02:41 pm

If the Packers reach the SB, less win it, I'd expect a huge turnover of players, and more if Rodgers retires. I don't see the FO extending/retaining contracts of the 30+-year-olds as a base for the Love rebuild, or even for Rodgers if he stays. No, this is it for many of the vets, and wouldn't be surprised if the same happens even if an SB win comes to fortunate reality. In other words, they'll be no 'run it back' bs. Whatever happens, this season will be the end for many in GB.

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13TimeChamps's picture

June 19, 2022 at 04:07 pm

Wasn't that the same narrative last offseason? "The '22 team will look completely different from last year". And yet...it doesn't. Adams, Linsley and Z (who basically wasn't on the field anyway), that's about it. As far as MVS...his 30 rec/3 TDs a year, multiple drops and sub 50% catch rate won't be missed.

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TarynsEyes's picture

June 19, 2022 at 04:13 pm

Was that the narrative before last season? Even if it was, the loss of those 4 you mention, regardless of one not being on the field much, does give some credibility to the narrative, and likely more to the narrative this coming post-season win/lose or not be in the SB. Also, the camp hasn't happened yet and a couple more may be gone.

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13TimeChamps's picture

June 19, 2022 at 05:00 pm

You actually are arguing that losing FOUR players off an NFL team from one year to the next is in any way out of the ordinary? I don't have the time, energy or interest to research what the average turnover is per team on any given year, but I'd be pretty confident that this years turnover was less than the league average. This isn't the 1960's...there are these things called free agency and the salary cap.

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TarynsEyes's picture

June 19, 2022 at 08:50 pm

The League average for player turnover has nothing to do with this. it doesn't matter how or why players leave or are released, it means the team is changing its personnel whether by 4 or 8 or more. Especially when most are veterans, as that changes the dynamic of the team. Besides, I'm speaking about the Packers making player change by releasing, not extending, and not those who are UFAs choosing elsewhere.

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croatpackfan's picture

June 20, 2022 at 09:37 am

I believe you are counting only loses of most mentioned players. There is a lot of players that already was released or not signed again on one year deal. Players that were on the Packers roster through out the last season... very few of them came back, and, yes, some may still be cut before or during the TC this summer. Also, do not be surprised if you'll find many of last year Packers players to be cut at the end of TC, on roster cut to 53 day.

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Return_To_Sanity's picture

June 19, 2022 at 03:46 pm

You could argue Kenny Clark should be on this list too. Due to restructuring, Clark's cap hit next year shoots up to $20 million and if they cut or trade him post june-1st the savings would be more than $16 million. Its possible they restructure him again, but theres 0% chance they keep him with a $20 million cap hit. Thats Aaron Donald money.

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Return_To_Sanity's picture

June 19, 2022 at 07:55 pm

Nonetheless, Clark and his 6 combined sacks over the last 2 years are not worth $20 million a year. And I like Clark too, but hes not irreplacable.

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Oppy's picture

June 20, 2022 at 02:02 am

he's replaceable when you look at the post game stat sheet.

He's elite when you watch the game tape.

Clark is not easily replaceable. He's a beast.

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 20, 2022 at 10:29 am

I agree...the double teams Kenny routinely attracts creates opportunities for his teammates to make a play. That is not on the stat sheet but it a huge contribution for the D.

And with all the help he is getting this year, expect his stat sheet to be one of the best of his career.

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Coldworld's picture

June 20, 2022 at 10:40 am

Kenny might actually be getting the help he’s been lacking throughout his career and, perhaps, a few less snaps allowing him time to recuperate. He’s young enough. I would expect a restructuring next off season.

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Oppy's picture

June 20, 2022 at 06:31 pm

Barring career-altering injury, it would be criminal if the Packers didn't attempt to keep Kenny Clark until he's roughly 32-36. Big nose tackles and DTs have a history of playing into their mid 30's- sometimes longer. Depends on the knees and the desire.

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stockholder's picture

June 19, 2022 at 05:35 pm

I think you're only bringing out Negativity for Rodgers. Let's think Positive for a change.
The can will get kicked down the road. And Rodgers will retire a Packer.
There isn't one player on this list that can't be replaced. And IMO: Gutey will do all he can to keep this secondary intact. The signing of Amos, still depends on how Savage plays this year.
Love hasn't shown he's worth the money expected. I believe it's much easier drafting another QB. Then keeping him at this point.
The next big payday will be Gary. it's just too early to worry about anything to come. Even the best laid plans can go astray.

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Return_To_Sanity's picture

June 19, 2022 at 07:57 pm

They already owe Amos $7.5 million for next year and hes not even under contract which basically guarantees he wont be back. Kicking the can down the road has consequences.

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stockholder's picture

June 19, 2022 at 08:15 pm

They'll get something Done.

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Oppy's picture

June 20, 2022 at 06:32 pm

This team is stealing from the future to bet on today. There will be consequences.

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Grandfathered's picture

June 19, 2022 at 09:42 pm

I still can't believe that Kenny Clark will turn only 27 in October. Wyatt is 24, so if we want a superstar Dl we will need to pay Clark.

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Return_To_Sanity's picture

June 20, 2022 at 01:23 am

Problem is, they also have to pay Rashan Gary (whos going to get $100+ million) and Elgton Jenkins (whos going to demand Left Tackle money) while also deciding whether to pay Jordan Love or not. You cant pay everyone. And as much as I like Kenny Clark, he has a combined 10 sacks over the last 3 years. That aint cutting it for the kind of money hes making. Unless hes giving the homie discount, hes probly gone next year. Packers would save $16 million by cutting or trading him after 6/1/23.

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dobber's picture

June 20, 2022 at 10:23 pm

IF the Packers decided to cut Clark post 2022--and I don't think they will--they could get $6M back against the cap by letting him go before his roster bonus kicks in next March. To get to June 1, the Packers still need to carry Clark's $20+M cap number until that point. They'll have already had to make the necessary cuts and signings to deal with their 2023 overage--which likely means they've redone Clark's deal in some way.

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Johnblood27's picture

June 20, 2022 at 07:18 am

Kenny Clark is like a Chinese Little Leaguer... somebody better check his birth certificate and then check for forgery!

All of the contract manipulations that are now a part of circumventing the cap rules make anything a possibility.

I keep hearing that sooner or later the pigeons will come home to roost and then for-sure time bombs are rolled out to state when everything is going to blow-the-f-up, but the explosions are always duds.

GM's have played with the fine print in the CBA enough to be able to defuse said time-bombs in ways that even slicks like our TGR cannot anticipate. I will believe the salary cap when it becomes more than a mirage far down the Arizona highway.

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Johnblood27's picture

June 20, 2022 at 07:24 am

As is constantly repeated here, Love has done nothing in the NFL. He is a clipboard holder. The inflated PLANS of some for him to become the third straight HOF caliber QG in GB shouldn't dictate contract dollars, reality hits at some point.

Keeping him on the roster doesn't mean ONLY using the 5th year option for all that money.

The Packers could offer him a slightly better than average contract for a back-up QB with the promise that he will eventually get his chance at replacing AR in another year or two. Love is only 23 years old. He came out early and has worked through some really trying off-seasons which have limited his growth opportunities. He could stay on through the end of AR's career and still have a nice 10-15 year career as a starting QB. He has been groomed to play in MLF's system in GB, the team probably does not want to throw that away.

The money could easily work out. The real question is would Love hang around yet another year or two without any pathway to significant playing time? The ball will be in his court after this season, the decision will be his and his alone since I do agree that the team will not pick up his 5th year option at that dollar amount for him to hold that clipboard.

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PatrickGB's picture

June 20, 2022 at 08:39 am

It’s just a gut feeling but IRT Love, I think that we keep him and regress to the mean with QB play. In doing so the team struggle’s for a year or so. The cap then becomes manageable again, and Love becomes a bridge to the next franchise QB and the team is less dependent on a HOF QB.

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Since'61's picture

June 20, 2022 at 11:28 am

Of the 5 players listed in the article the only major loss would be losing Aaron Jones. But we have seen how easily RBs can be replaced and after this season Jones best years will likely be behind him. although I could see him still having another one or two good seasons left.

Amos and Lowry will be cap casualties while Cobb will likely retire and Love should be traded before the Packers end up with nothing for him. Even if Love stays the Packers should draft a QB in the 2023 draft as insurance against the possibility that Love doesn't work out.

As other posters have mentioned it is likely the last season for Bak, Crosby and Lewis. However the packers have already added depth to the OL and TE position groups and they will have another draft to add more players. Crosby would be a key loss but teams including the Packers have transitioned through their kickers before. It can achieved either via the draft or an FA signing.

In any case each season brings roster turnover and churning. I say let's get through the 2022 season first before we begin worrying about who's here and who's not for the 2023 season. One season at a time. Thanks, Since '61

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 20, 2022 at 10:41 am

With Benkert now cut, it is clear Love is not going to be traded this year, and I would be shocked if he is moved next year.

I believe he will get a 5th year as an insurance policy against the fickle Rodgers retiring next off season.

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Johnblood27's picture

June 20, 2022 at 01:18 pm

Love may get additional years under contract from the GBP, but barring an nAR departure that is cap friendly to the GBP, there is just no way that the gbp will exercise the 5th year option of Love's rookie contract with that 20 million number.

Maybe the GBP negotiate a contract with Love to hang around until AR quits, but it will not be the 5th year option of his rookie contract.
Just no way.

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