The Lass Word: What Will It Cost To Keep Tonyan And MVS?

The rising stars of this year may well be the linchpins of next year.

As the Packers go about the business of crafting their roster for the 2021 season, they must do so with at least a cautious eye on 2022 and beyond.  Yes, I’m just going to enjoy this season and not lose sleep over what may happen afterward.  But I do have a sort of morbid curiosity about how the team will go about keeping some sort of nucleus together for the future. 

 

Green Bay is certainly off to a solid start by locking up Kenny Clark, David Bakhtiari and Aaron Jones.  I am going to presume that Aaron Rodgers is gone after this season.  That would leave several other major deals looming ahead in the next year.  You have read, and will no doubt continue to read, about the cost of retaining star players such as Davante Adams, Jaire Alexander and Zadarius Smith.  They will all want top dollar and will likely get it.  But I seriously doubt all three will get it from the Packers.   

 

More intriguing to me are the rising stars of this team, the kind of players that don’t make the opening montages of Sunday Night Football, but who collectively keep you from falling off the cliff when the elites wave goodbye because you’re out of salary cap room.  The Packers have several of them.  That’s why they are one of the best teams in the league.  Many of those will also be up for re-signing, and what they will be able to demand is decidedly unclear. 

 

Let’s focus on two of them, tight end Robert Tonyan and receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling.  They are perfect examples of improving players whom Green Bay will need desperately if they find they can’t write big enough checks for the likes of Adams.  They are the type of player Jordan Love must have around him to have a chance to be successful in 2022. 

 

To get an idea what they might cost, let’s look at some free agent signings at their positions this offseason.  We’ll start with tight ends.  The two richest deals were both made by the spend-happy New England Patriots, who inked both Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry to contracts averaging $12.5 million.  Comparing their 2020 numbers, Tonyan had 52 catches for 586 yards, and led all TE’s with 11 touchdowns.  By comparison, Smith had 41/448/8, while Henry posted a line of 60/613/4.  I would call that comparable, granting a big edge to Big Bob in touchdown receptions. 

 

Does that mean Tonyan will command a $12.5 million average next season?  It’s possible if he balls out and has an All Pro year.  But with the diversity of weapons at Aaron Rodgers’ disposal, it’s unlikely Tonyan will get enough targets to achieve that kind of preeminence.  Oh, for sure he’ll have a good year, but I doubt it will be THAT kind of year. 

 

A more realistic comparison might be the two year deal the New York Giants gave to Kyle Rudolph, which works out to $6 million per year.  Or maybe the one year, $8 million pact paid by the Tampa Bay Bucs to re-up Rob Gronkowski.  Still, a six to eight million dollar chunk out of next year’s cap is considerable, especially since that cap is already a mess.  No doubt any deal with Bobby will have to be heavily back loaded into 2023, when new TV contracts kick in. 

 

Then there is MVS.  Last season he put up a line of 33/690/6.  Looking at receiver free agent signings this offseason,  MVS certainly won’t be in Kenny Golladay country, who got $18 million per year from the Giants.  Nor will he likely approach the Corey Davis deal with the Jets, which is $12.5 million.  Heck, even Nelson Agholor got two years at $11 million per from the Patriots. 

 

However, If his excellent training camp is any indication, the 4th year wideout from South Florida may well be looking at something like the one year deals signed by T. Y. Hilton and JuJu Smith-Schuster.  Both resigned with their current teams for $8 million.   Or maybe the Marvin Jones contract with the Jaguars, which is two years at $6.25 per. 

 

So there you have two key players who, if they continue to rise, are going to be in that 6 to 8 million range at least.  There are more who will likely fall into the next tier down.  Guys like Allen Lazard, Chandon Sullivan, Krys Barnes and Kevin King.  The Packers will lose a couple of their elites because the boatload of money required to keep them all is simply not there.   But if they make wise decisions, they can retain enough of the Tonyan and MVS type players that will keep them in the playoff picture.      

 

 

 

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Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

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7 points

Comments (45)

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Duneslick's picture

August 26, 2021 at 03:46 pm

And they are 50 Million over the cap next year and of the group only ZaDarius's contract is included in that number

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Bure9620's picture

August 26, 2021 at 08:06 pm

Rodgers is too, this not counting dead money but just current contracts not if Rodgers is traded, Preston Smith released, King, Jones, Cobb and others. It will look different.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 26, 2021 at 08:37 pm

Yeah, but can you trade Rodgers after the trade deadline (November 2) and prior to the start of the new league year (March 17, 2022)? No.

A trade doesn't solve the Packers' cap problem. The savings can be used to sign MVS and Tonyan, perhaps Adams. Much easier to extend and restructure AR and get the same cap savings as a trade would bring.

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Bure9620's picture

August 27, 2021 at 05:03 am

You think they extend him??

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 27, 2021 at 08:00 am

Winning is a great lubricant. I think it would require a super bowl victory.

The real point was that Green Bay cannot trade Rodgers after the trade deadline through the new league year. To plug the $50,000,000 salary shortfall, the Packers cannot use a trade of Rodgers. That $19.3 million isn't available.

They could do and sign and trade. That would require an interesting structure but boils down to an enormous signing or roster bonus which doesn't get paid until after the start of the new league year and which gets paid by the acquiring team.

I want to win super bowls. To me, that means AR. Keeping him is my preference. I don't know how to make it work in terms of personalities.

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Guam's picture

August 27, 2021 at 08:30 am

TGR: I would like to win Super Bowls too, but I just don't know if the Packers can do it after this year while keeping Rodgers. They will have to cut a slew of very good players to get under the cap and will not have the draft choices or cap space to replace the lost players. The Packers will have a great QB on a weakened team.

If the trade Rodgers, they will at least acquire some draft choices to help replace the other players they are going to have to cut (and not as many if they dump Rodgers' contract). We might be better off with a developing QB and a more talented team around him than an expensive QB and a weaker team.

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Coldworld's picture

August 27, 2021 at 08:51 am

For Rodgers to stay, Rodgers is going to have to take a lighter roster around him and still be prepared to compromise on his earnings. The chances of either seem slim.

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Guam's picture

August 27, 2021 at 09:38 am

Agreed. And if they keep Rodgers, what do you do with Love? Unlike TGR, I see them moving on from an old QB and starting the next generation team.

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flackcatcher's picture

August 27, 2021 at 12:10 pm

Both Guam and Coldworld have covered it pretty well. The reality is the Cap Gap is too large. Even with moving Rodgers and cutting some high priced vets, the Cap will be over somewhere between 20 and 30 million. TGR, you better than anyone else know the numbers don't lie. Since 2019 the day of reckoning has been coming. Gutekunst made the decision to go all in, in 2019 knowing neither he nor Russ Ball could finesse the Cap numbers. The only question was how bad the Cap would be, and how long would the rebuild or retooling take. This was never about personalities, but about cold hard cash. The truth is the Packers got a double whammy they couldn't recover from. The gap year of the TV contract, and the (Covid-19) virus. The Packers could get though the gap year with the stable Cap and local revue with what would be for them a small loss. But not when Covid wiped out a major and important source of money for the organization last year. Let's be clear here. This is not Mark Murphy, Brian Gutekunst or Russ Ball fault. What happened to the organization was out of their control. The only thing they can do, is like in any disaster is salvage and clean up what they can. The Packers are not alone in this, every team in the league, no matter their Cap situation have taken a massive hit. We won't know how deep the damage is until after this season. Without Covid, the Packers could have managed Rodgers contract at least for one more year, maybe two and kept the core group together at least for that long till the TV money kicked in. It's clear that was Gutekunst's and Ball's thinking before Covid. What a lost opportunity.

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jurp's picture

August 27, 2021 at 06:53 am

Why would Rodgers sign an extension if he wants out of GB? Even if we win the SB, I think he'll still want out. Our only hope is a trade, IMO.

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croatpackfan's picture

August 26, 2021 at 03:57 pm

It is the question of priorities. If players wants to play with bunch of high quality players on the same team,and play for play off and SB contender, they may be reasonable in their demands. If they want big money, they will go to team where they will get big contract, but they will not play in January and February. Also, every player should understand that his play depends very much on how his team mates play around him. They have to understand that football is team sport and no single player can win the games and build statistic witout help of his team mates. Not even AR. W/o good OL he might become invalid. W/o good receivers he will not have that high ratings, w/o good RB it can be hard to impossible to have your WR cast open, RB can not play w/o good OL etc... Same is at D. So you can chase money or sport's success. Only really extraordinary individuals can separate themselves from the others. And those individuals are really really rare...

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jhtobias's picture

August 26, 2021 at 05:59 pm

What you say is true, but look it from the players viewpoint tgier job is to capitilize on the most guaranteed money the market affords even if aaron rodgera will no longer be thier qb. Cant blame any player seeking higher compensation

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croatpackfan's picture

August 26, 2021 at 11:49 pm

I know that mainly it is all about money. From time to time you can learn abour younger guy who understands and despite he does command larger contract, that contract falls in moderate level - example is Aaron Jones.

However all of you are right. Mostly it is only about money.

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Tundraboy's picture

August 26, 2021 at 06:42 pm

That’s for sure. Well said!

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mbpacker's picture

August 26, 2021 at 08:17 pm

It's about the money. They will go whom ever pays them the most. It's a young mans game, they take the money while they can. Also, they are an injury away from a career ending. Can't blame them, I would do it too.

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stockholder's picture

August 26, 2021 at 04:03 pm

27 million.

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packer132's picture

August 26, 2021 at 07:34 pm

Adams will be about $27-$30 million for some team; probably not the Packers. Tonyan should be about $10 million and MVS $6 m. Too soon to predict 2022 until the season is over. Injuries will happen.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 26, 2021 at 08:38 pm

I am in the minority, but I think MVS gets $10M AAV. I think he is going to have a big year with over 1,000 receiving yards and a better catch percentage.

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dobber's picture

August 27, 2021 at 08:14 am

This is why they need to extend him in September.

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Coldworld's picture

August 27, 2021 at 08:55 am

I tend to agree. Because MVS is an elite deep threat already based on stats, even though he’s not an elite receiver, he’s likely to be more valuable to some teams since you can’t train what he’s elite at. If he proves to be more than that this year, that goes up significantly.

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stockholder's picture

August 27, 2021 at 12:08 pm

I keep saying extend him now.

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Leatherhead's picture

August 26, 2021 at 04:45 pm

I think it depends on what happens this season, but this organization usually tries to retain good young players. It’s not like when we lost guys like Bryce Paup because we couldn’t afford him.

If Tonyan has another year like last year, he’s going to be a $10 million a year guy.

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Coldworld's picture

August 26, 2021 at 05:03 pm

Aaron Rodgers and Davantae Adams.

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Jackwagon's picture

August 26, 2021 at 05:07 pm

Buffalo signed Paup for a measly $100,000 more on a long term contract and Ron Wolf refused to pay. Then Paup was the Defensive Player of the Year. Rats!

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Leatherhead's picture

August 26, 2021 at 06:02 pm

100k was more money then, but it still really chapped my hide when we let Paup leave.

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Coldworld's picture

August 26, 2021 at 06:53 pm

Kudos for that illustration. That’s a memory rekindled.

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Horrible4's picture

August 26, 2021 at 05:22 pm

Tonyan is on a EFA tender for next year, yea? That would mean we could keep him around and work on an extension in the future, but MVS most likely gone after this season if the plan is for Rodgers to be traded after this season. They could likely trade Rodgers for a star receiver or get draft capitol to target Chris Olave in the draft and retool the offense for the next couple of seasons.

I like both players, but MVS isn't worth what he's going to ask for, especially if he has a decent season this year. Not really a long term option for a team that doesn't know what they're going to look like 4 years down the road.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 26, 2021 at 08:40 pm

Tonyan will be an unrestricted free agent in 2022.

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Horrible4's picture

August 27, 2021 at 05:39 pm

Thought he was around until 23, rough. Gonna be tough to find money for these players.

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jhtobias's picture

August 26, 2021 at 05:56 pm

Why should any player take a discount to stay? Guys like Tonyan Mvs and Jaire have been underpaid and have never complained . Good for them like any employee get what tou can while you can.

Jaire is going nowhere he is a once in a generation cb they will take care of him.

Tonyan and Mvs if they continue thier upward trend they deserve what they can get just like any peraon woyld expect.

I hope Tonyan and Mvs become pro bowlers means we have a shor this yr . Yes they will most likely than move on for financial reasons do is life in the nfl.

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Bure9620's picture

August 26, 2021 at 08:10 pm

Jaire is on rookie deal as is MVS, I don't know how they are underpaid, they are not on 2nd contracts yet. Tonyan was a UDFA and PS player whom only recently blossomed, he was tendered as a ERFA, so it's not like the Packers low balled these guys, their deals are all a result of the current CBA..

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 26, 2021 at 08:44 pm

I agree that Tonyan has not been low-balled. He got an ERFA tender in 2020 and an RFA tender in 2021. Now, some teams would have signed Tonyan long term for bigger money, but GB couldn't afford that and used the RFA tender.

Tonyan was given an RFA render for this season. They re-worked the money to add a signing bonus and void years, but he is making the RFA tender for 2nd round pick compensation of $3.8M this year.

Tonyan will be an UFA in 2022.

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ImaPayne2's picture

August 26, 2021 at 06:12 pm

They wont keep either. In case you forgot, receivers are a dime a dozen. Tonyan is gone and mvs either traded ot let go. The team cannot afford either. Rogers got all da mooney?

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Johnblood27's picture

August 27, 2021 at 08:51 am

jibberish...

brain dead nonsense.

Troll.

Please just go back to your twink cities basement.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

August 26, 2021 at 06:22 pm

Considering the potential cost(s) of signing the pending free agents - as well as the looming salary-cap crunch - I offer this post-apocalyptic view of a team from:

Aaron Rodgers
Devante Adams
MVS
Randall Cobb
Bob Tonyan

To:
Jordan Love
Malik Taylor
Reggie Begelton
Amari Rodgers
Jace Sternberger

Not spectacular but cheap! Also I really hope that the Packers win the SB this year.

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Coldworld's picture

August 27, 2021 at 09:08 am

Taylor is likely a good bet. Rodgers will be around unless he’s totally inept or injured. Both are not starter potential (except in a slot role). Bagelton will be a 29 year old possession receiver. Of those, none can fulfill the Lazard role, the MVS role and certainly no number 1 candidate exists. A 4th and a slot and maybe a 5th. That would be Chicago bad.

Sternberger is a TE who may not survive the year. He’s too inconsistent getting open and running routes and his blocking is inconsistent to dire. Nuata was considered to be ahead of him before injury.

That might be the worst Packer passing offense since the advent of color TV.

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Alberta_Packer's picture

August 27, 2021 at 12:03 pm

Yes, I amused myself with the worst case scenario - from the assumptions that the Packers could not/would not re-sign any of their receivers, and, would only utilize their current in-house talent. I acknowledge the higher probability that the FO will both re-sign some of their players and import external talent.

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Tundraboy's picture

August 26, 2021 at 06:39 pm

A lot!

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Since'61's picture

August 26, 2021 at 07:25 pm

We could/should tag Alexander. After that is probably a free for all especially if Rodgers is traded. Adams will attempt to follow AR or go to the highest bidder.
As for Tonyan and MVS if we run more and pass less, which we should actually do this season, all receivers will get less targets and less receptions. Both Tonyan and MVS could end up with less production than 2020 which could impact their FA value. Plus if MVS still has a low 50s% catch rate he may not be very highly sought after. If which case we should try to trade him or just chuck him.

We need to get through 2021 before we start worrying about who will stay or leave for 2022. Let's go win the SB this season and worry about 2022 when it gets here. Thanks, Since '61

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Bure9620's picture

August 26, 2021 at 08:00 pm

Jaire had his 5th year option picked up so 2 years of control still. An extention would save significantly more at the time if deal also. I don't think we want to tag him.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 26, 2021 at 08:47 pm

I agree, Bure. Jaire is playing for dirt cheap this year. (Yes, some teams would have signed him long term but GB can't afford that.) So he plays on his rookie deal in 2021 and on his fifth year option in 2022 of $13.3M but GB could reduce his cap hit by giving him a long term deal after this season.

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Tundraboy's picture

August 26, 2021 at 08:05 pm

Live for today. After last years heartbreak I would hope that is what the majority of players are thinking. Totally agree 61. No need to worry about 2022.

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Johnblood27's picture

August 27, 2021 at 08:56 am

It is a shame that pay is projected from individual statistics that individual players do NOT control.

Football is still a team sport and dependence on your teammates is essential for on-field success.

Salary cap - Fantasy values... Times they are a-changin...

Maybe it is time for FO's to change too.

Bring in groups of players and negotiate their contract values as a group. League W and L depend on team work, not individual efforts. Maybe group negotiation would drive home the concept that under a salary cap (which the GBP spend every dime of) coordination and compromise is the true path to continued success both financially and professionally.

Different world - different solutions.

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Oppy's picture

August 26, 2021 at 08:47 pm

Jaire Alexander is the most important signing this year, and he's gonna get paid (as he should) barring a catastrophic set back in the level of his play (which I don't see happening).

After he gets his contract, It's Tonyan all day (same caveat as above). Tonyan is playing like one of the leagues best TEs.

MVS is still trying to live up to potential. If he has a big break out season, he could enter into top 20 WR pay scale. (Although I don't see any WR not named Adams getting adequate targeting from Rodgers in 2021 to qualify for "breakout" numbers.) As it sits right now, I think he should be happy to take 6-7million a year. Anything more than that would be overpaying- regardless of the void that may be left when Davante leaves the packers to get his payday.

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PatrickGB's picture

August 26, 2021 at 09:04 pm

If the players and team both agree then they could sign contracts that balloons later after the season. Mr. Ball, do your magic!

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