All 8 Packers ERFAs Should Return for 2022

Uncertainty still remains in how the Green Bay Packers will navigate the remainder of this offseason, but you can expect all eight ERFA's to return for 2022.

The two big dominos for the Green Bay Packers this offseason just fell earlier this week. Aaron Rodgers announced that he would be returning, and the team then placed the franchise tag on Davante Adams--presumably to continue working on a long-term deal.
 
However, the offseason work is far from done. In fact, much of it is just beginning.
 
We don't exactly know where the Green Bay Packers stand salary cap-wise at the moment. They entered the week about $26.4 million over the cap, but that will increase by $20.1 million due to tagging Adams. However, that figure will then be reduced with Rodgers' receiving an extension--the question is, by how much?
 
Regardless, the Packers will have to work their way under the salary cap by March 16th, the start of the new league year. How they will go about doing that, well, we have a few ideas, but their exact path remains unknown.
 
We also don't know what kind of spending power the Packers will have in free agency--although it is assumed that it will be somewhat limited. So the other big questions are, how many of their 14 unrestricted free agents can they retain? And which ones will Green Bay choose to re-sign?
 
In addition to those 14 unrestricted free agents, the Packers also have one restricted free agent in Allen Lazard, who without a doubt should return. There are also eight exclusive rights free agents as well. 
 
Although there are still tough decisions facing Brian Gutekunst and Co. this offseason, as well as some uncertainty on our part when it comes to what those decisions will be, in all likelihood, you can expect each of those eight exclusive rights free agents to return for 2022.
 
For those wondering, an exclusive rights free agent is a player with fewer than three years of accrued NFL experience. While they have the term free agent in their designation, there isn't a whole lot of freedom. If the Packers offer any of these players a one-year contract at the league minimum (based on their credited seasons), the player cannot negotiate with other teams.
 
For the cap-strapped Green Bay Packers, this allows them to continue filling out their 90-man roster ahead of training camp with inexpensive contracts--not to mention that all of these players at one point have been contributors on the 53-man roster.

Krys Barnes - LB

Barnes has played over 500 defensive snaps in each of his first two seasons with the Packers. Last year we saw a more effective version of Barnes playing alongside De'Vondre Campbell, where he filled the Robin role, rather than having to Batman as he often did in 2020. 
 
The only linebackers under contract for 2022 at the moment are Ty Summers, Isaiah McDuffie, and Ray Wilborn.

Chauncey Rivers - EDGE

Rivers would tear his ACL following Week 4, where he filled in as a rotational edge rusher with Za'Darius Smith sidelined. In 32 pass-rush snaps, Rivers recorded one pressure, according to PFF
 
With it looking like Za'Darius Smith is going to be cut, edge rusher is a major need for Green Bay, even with Preston Smith and Rashan Gary. The depth in 2021 was a concern, and there was are real lack of impact plays from those not named Smith and Gary.

Henry Black - S

Admittedly, Black took his lumps last season, particularly in coverage, as he was the Packers' primary third safety. Black would allow 17 receptions on 25 targets at 12.6 yards per catch with only one pass breakup. 
 
The third safety position is one Green Bay should try to upgrade, but even if they do go that route, you can expect Black to return--at least for training camp, as there is little experience on the roster at this position behind Black, Adrian Amos, and Darnell Savage. 
 
Black was also second on the team in special teams snaps and first in tackles.

Dominique Dafney - TE

More like an H-back, Dafney isn't much of a factor in the passing game with only two receptions last season. Instead, he is primarily used as a blocker and is also moved around the formation, lining up out wide, in the slot, in-line, and out of the backfield. Dafney could also emerge as a key special teams contributor under Rich Bisaccia.

Jake Hanson - C

To the surprise of many, Jake Hanson, a 2020 sixth-round pick, made the 53-man roster out of training camp last season. He would see just six total snaps in mop-up duty. 
 
We don't really know where he is at in his development, but obviously, Green Bay likes him to some degree as he was on the 53-man roster all season. With Elgton Jenkins going to miss some time and Lucas Patrick possibly signing elsewhere in free agency, the Packers need to find a reliable backup at center.

Yosh Nijman - LT

We knew Nijman had potential with his size and athleticism, but he was largely a mystery prior to the 2021 season. Well, now we know that he is very much a capable tackle in the NFL. With some help, Nijman held his own at left tackle for Green Bay, appearing in 10 games and allowing just three sacks and 20 pressures per PFF. For all we know, Nijman could end up as the Packers' future right tackle.

Randy Ramsey - EDGE

In 2020, Ramsey was the Green Bay Packers' fourth edge rusher, but unfortunately, an injury during training camp would sideline him for the entire 2021 season. As I already mentioned, bolstering the edge rusher depth will be a must this offseason, and Ramsey should also provide a boost to special teams as well. 
 
While the return of Rivers and Ramsey should boost the competition at edge rusher, in no way should it affect how Green Bay approaches the draft. Even with those two back in the mix, addressing the position in the early round should still be on Gutey's to-do list.

Malik Taylor - WR

The wide receiver room is very thin at the moment. Taylor shined during the preseason and had two receptions during the regular season. His primary responsibility was as the kick return man, where admittedly, he struggled. Bringing back Taylor will create added competition on the back-end of the roster at receiver and on special teams, which is certainly needed.
 

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Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

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1 points

Comments (33)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Handsback's picture

March 11, 2022 at 11:24 am

I don't see how GB can keep the core together w/o cutting a ton of players....I guess we will all find out.

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Jvschultz's picture

March 11, 2022 at 12:14 pm

Print some more money. That is how the government does it.

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PeteK's picture

March 11, 2022 at 12:34 pm

They just did with a $300. stock sale which brought in 65 mill.

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dobber's picture

March 11, 2022 at 02:06 pm

That's not cap money, though...

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PeteK's picture

March 11, 2022 at 04:10 pm

I know, just responding.

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fastmoving's picture

March 12, 2022 at 02:35 am

yeah, thats the only thing the weak, stupid orange criminal did......but thanks god this times are over forever

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HDbikerguy's picture

March 11, 2022 at 12:20 pm

Quite simple actually..... Rodgers' extension will probably reduce the cap number by at $15 million or more, and extensions to Amos, Alexander, P Smith, Turner and cuts to Z Smith and Cobb......

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dobber's picture

March 11, 2022 at 02:08 pm

I think the thing is that since the tag of Adams and AR's stated return, NOTHING has happened. I expected we'd be seeing dominoes falling at this stage left and right, but it's been eerily quiet. Some rumors of negotiations and such, but no results...

The clock is ticking.

4 points
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Coldworld's picture

March 11, 2022 at 05:07 pm

Perhaps trying to get Adams to sign a long term deal first? If not it’s a more severe set of options for others?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 11, 2022 at 06:46 pm

It is Friday and legal tampering starts Monday. Ideally, GB would have its ducks in a row by Monday, not Wednesday. Deals will get made Monday; Wednesday is just the nominal and absolute deadline.

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dblbogey's picture

March 11, 2022 at 04:23 pm

Hope Aaron will let us cut Cobb.

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dobber's picture

March 11, 2022 at 04:39 pm

Isn't that a scary comment to need to make?

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Leatherhead's picture

March 11, 2022 at 07:16 pm

Most of our players make under a million. About 25 make more than that. 10 guys make $9 million or more. That’s where we’ll save money.

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packer132's picture

March 15, 2022 at 12:42 pm

It will be good to see these young guys compete in training camp, as many were injured last year and played little. Should see improvement with these 2 and 3 year players in the same system. Extensions should be made to Alexander, Amos, Preston, and probable cuts are Z Smith and Cobb. It sounds like Packers will try to get Campbell back though other options will be available at LB as teams cut players. Douglas is most likely too expensive as is Patrick and Turner. Last year Green Bay returned 20 of 22 starters, and I hope that number is almost as high. I can't wait for the draft and then OTA's.

4 points
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splitpea1's picture

March 11, 2022 at 12:40 pm

You know Barnes and Nijman are probably locks, and I'm hoping the same for Dafney, who I've always liked, and M. Taylor, although he's not so certain. What I'm really hoping is that the front office likes what they have in Hanson, because that would be one less draft pick (especially) or signing needed on the offensive line. Finding quality safety depth should be a priority in the later rounds.

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Leatherhead's picture

March 11, 2022 at 12:49 pm

Well, you need 90 guys to start with. Nijman and Barnes probably are the two most valuable off that list.

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dobber's picture

March 11, 2022 at 02:08 pm

A capable LT is gold in this league.

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stockholder's picture

March 11, 2022 at 12:50 pm

Dumping Z. Smith is like dumping draft picks. I'd bring him back . If you don't bring him back. Gutey will trade up to get a edge rusher. Give me the Smiths! We're "all in" again! And they won't sit the bench. Nijman, Lazard, and Barnes won't break the bank. MVS will. With Adams Tagged. MVS can be replaced. (Gets hurt to easy for me.)

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packerfan2554's picture

March 11, 2022 at 02:07 pm

They just cannot bring back Z Smith with that much of a contract. $15.5 million and seeing he is coming off back surgery. That alone is 1/3 of their cap problems right now. As for MVS I beleive this year was his only bad year for injuries. And Arod loves him as a home run threat. I hope he can stay in GB.

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dobber's picture

March 11, 2022 at 02:14 pm

So...MVS gets his back dinged, misses a couple games, is expected to make a complete recovery, but is damaged goods not worthy of a spot with the team. Meanwhile Z misses all of camp, has back surgery, and plays a total of what amounts to about half a game of snaps, but his big salary is worth renegotiating and bringing back?

"MVS can be replaced. (Gets hurt to easy for me.)"
MVS played all 16 games in 2018-2020, but missed 6 in 2021.

8 points
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stockholder's picture

March 11, 2022 at 03:27 pm

his big salary is worth renegotiating and bringing back? Yes- How long did it take Gary.? The condition is; The contract must be Cap friendly. And MVS missed the game when he was needed most. Is he worth 10 mil? . Or is Campbell? Can't afford both. I say a rookie can be just as good as MVS. Have a little faith. Linsley got replaced.

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Coldworld's picture

March 11, 2022 at 05:09 pm

He missed that game because LaFleur and or Rodgers insisted on playing all the starters against Detroit.

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PhantomII's picture

March 11, 2022 at 09:31 pm

If Gute would burn 2 -late round #1's we could have another #1 WR start day 1....but he won't...just like he didn't move up for Jefferson.

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BirdDogUni's picture

March 12, 2022 at 12:14 am

Two late round #1's? You mean future picks? Hell no... Which is a good thing in the long run, IMO. Kids today want instant gratification, no matter the cost. (If you look at my Amazon Account, I too like instant gratification.) ; )

You assuming Gutey won't spend two future 1st round picks on a WR is excellent. We haven't spent a 1st Round Pick on a WR in almost two decades, so I doubt he spends two future 1st round picks on a WR this year.

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stockholder's picture

March 12, 2022 at 07:28 am

With all the good Wrs in this draft. A starter will be gone by the end of the second rd. Wr sets his draft. Watkins should be a target.

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PhantomII's picture

March 12, 2022 at 12:49 pm

The offense needs another super duper WR and a very good TE on the offensive side if we want to win a SB or 2. That's the bottom line...either you want to win or you don't...it's that simple.

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PhantomII's picture

March 12, 2022 at 01:01 pm

One current...one future. Maybe do a deal with Seattle with a known good WR as they are rebuilding.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

March 12, 2022 at 05:34 pm

GB is all-in. Didn't think that would ever happen, either. The only thing they haven't done as an all-in team is burn future draft picks other than as fairly normal trade-ups like for Amari Rodgers.

Seriously though, I thought there was not a WR this year in the draft worth our current #28 plus a future first? I read there is some WR that might go 10th or so. Okay, forgive my ignorance, multiple guys between 8 and 16 (Wilson, Olave sometimes, London and the injured Williams as a wild card.

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Jonathan Spader's picture

March 12, 2022 at 01:32 am

Viqueens moved up for Jefferson so Gute couldn't that's not on him.

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PhantomII's picture

March 12, 2022 at 12:53 pm

It's on him because after shipping their #1 WR to Buffalo, that GB did not move to 20 and get Jefferson. We would not be being held hostage by DA salary demands and would have his replacement right now on the cheap and won 2 SB with both WR's on the team. That's the difference of being safe with picks and being decisive.

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Oppy's picture

March 11, 2022 at 03:38 pm

Your takes are so all over the board it makes my head spin

7 points
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Cartwright's picture

March 12, 2022 at 03:11 am

If you have to dump Z and can King to sign Rasool, or any other combination it must be done. Once we added him the defense got better especially in the secondary.That dude was the shit back there. I don't want to hear we don't have the money for this guy, with that game winning interception alone at the last second he entered packer lore and is a legend now. We lost a chance at the Super Bowl, but I ain't forgetting that game anytime soon, it was a rush and a reflection of how good he is and why Douglas should be kept... even if it takes unloading that whole list mentioned in the article plus MVS. Hope we keep him. GPG

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Coldworld's picture

March 12, 2022 at 08:43 am

King is already gone. His contract automatically voided. We chose to let that happen despite dead cap money now being incurred by doing so. Z is almost certainly gone in order to get us under the cap this week. Need more too, just to do that, let alone sign Douglas, Campbell or any other FA.

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