Which Potential 2022 Free Agents Should Be a Priority for the Packers

The Green Bay Packers head into the 2021 NFL season in a difficult salary cap squeeze. The Packers re-signed many of their own players who could have departed via free agency during the past year including Aaron Jones, Kevin King, Kenny Clark and David Bakhtiari. The result is that the team deferred a lot of cap money down the road to make sure the team fits under the reduced cap for this season.

The team also is waiting to see if quarterback Aaron Rodgers returns and if he does, will the team have to extend or rework his contract which may kick even more cap money down the road and make it more difficult to sign other potential free agents.

Here is a look at the top six players who are scheduled to be unrestricted free agents next season. They are ranked in the order the Packers should prioritize signing them to a new deal. These rankings are subject to change during the upcoming season due to injuries, the performance of these players and others at their respective positions and the overall state of the team and the salary cap.

6. OL Lucas Patrick

Patrick took over as the starter at right guard last season and did a solid job. He is versatile and can play either guard position or center. Patrick is strong, tough and capable but he is an above average offensive lineman at best right now.

The former Duke star will be 29 before the start of the 2022 season. The Packers will probably not re-sign Patrick for a few reasons. First, the organization is reluctant to give most offensive linemen a new deal once they approach 30. The Packers have also drafted six players in the last two drafts who can play interior offensive line and would cost less to keep than Patrick would. They can also draft more interior linemen if needed in the 2022 draft.

Patrick is a useful player who may start again in 2021, but he is a longshot to sign another deal with the Packers after this season.

5. CB Kevin King

The Packers surprised everybody by re-signing King this offseason to a multi-year deal but it is essentially a one-year contract with voidable years.

King has the size and body type the Packers look for in a cornerback but his play has been very inconsistent. He is essentially in Green Bay for 2021 to give the Packers experience and depth before first-round pick Eric Stokes is ready to take over as the starter.

The Packers will almost certainly move on from King after this season unless King is willing to redo his deal and come back on team friendly terms for 2022.

4. CB Chandon Sullivan

Sullivan is entering his third season with the Packers this year and will be an unrestricted free agent after the 2021 season.

The former Georgia State star was outstanding as the dime back in 2019 but was inconsistent last season when trying to step up to a nickel back role.

Sullivan is capable of taking a step forward this season, but he has competition at corner. The Packers drafted Eric Stokes in the first round this season and added Shemar Jean-Charles in the fifth round. Jaire Alexander is the undisputed CB1 and Kevin King is back for one more year as CB2.

If Sullivan has a strong season, the Packers may look to re-sign him for a reasonable price. However, if he plays well, he may command a higher price than GM Brian Gutekunst is willing to pay.

3. WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling

Valdes-Scantling is the Packers most dangerous deep threat. He is entering his fourth NFL season but despite his outstanding speed, he still drops too many passes and is inconsistent in his route running.

MVS’ future will depend on his 2021 performance. If he takes a step forward this season and becomes more consistent, the Packers may try to re-sign him to a new deal at a reasonable rate. If not, there will likely be another team willing to take a chance on a receiver with elite speed and average hands to play a role in their offense.

2. TE Robert Tonyan

Tonyan enjoyed a breakout season in 2020, catching 52 passes for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns. Before the Packers re-sign him, the former Indiana State star needs to prove last season was no fluke. If he has another strong campaign in 2021, there is a chance the Packers look to give him a new deal.

What may ultimately make the front office hesitate is the number of tight ends on the roster. The team also has a pair of former third-round picks in Jace Sternberger and Josiah Deguara. Veteran Marcedes Lewis may not be back after this season but Dominique Dafney has shown some promise and may carve out a bigger role in 2021.

The Packers won’t break the bank on Tonyan but they probably would like to bring him back if he shows he is a bona fide starter at tight end.

1. WR Davante Adams

Adams set a new Packers single-season record last season with 115 catches despite missing two games due to injury. He also caught a career-high 18 touchdown passes.

Right now, the former Fresno State star may be the best wide receiver in football.

Adams is the top priority for the Packers but his price tag may approach as high as $25 million per season according to some reports.

The Packers are already discussing an extension with Adams’ agent, but talks are still in the preliminary stages.

How the Aaron Rodgers saga plays out may also alter the Packers chances of re-signing Adams. If Rodgers is traded, it could give the Packers some more cap room to work with, but it also may make Adams less eager to sign a long-term deal to stay in Green Bay while Jordan Love learns the ropes.

You can follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers

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6 points

Comments (27)

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

June 24, 2021 at 12:20 pm

I'll probably take some heat for this one, and I love the player and teammate that DA has become, but I don't think we'll be able to pay him what he is due. We have to turn the page at some point. I'd even suggest if the Packers struggle out of the gate and the SB looks like a lost cause, trade him before the deadline to gain some value before he finds greener pastures. I wish him well, hate to see him go, but Bill Belicheck the GM wins for a reason. BB doesn't pay for prior performance, only current and future expectations. We should follow that lead here. It saves the cash needed for your younger players and to fill in holes that pop up. GPG!

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 24, 2021 at 01:03 pm

I agree with your logic.

Ironically, if Rodgers does return, it probably seals Adams departure. He and Rodgers would break the bank and keeping both would mean cutting several top starters or kick the team cap can into the abyss.

I think the most likely return of Adams on a new deal is playing with Love as his QB.

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gr7070's picture

June 24, 2021 at 04:50 pm

More than ok to see him go.

Jaire is way more important.

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13TimeChamps's picture

June 24, 2021 at 05:07 pm

As much as I love DA17, let's not forget the team went 6-0 in the 6 games he missed the last two years. No way is any WR, who's next contract will take him into his 30's, worth 20-25 million in my opinion. Get Tonyan signed, sooner rather than later.

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 24, 2021 at 09:50 pm

Who was running the show when Adams nursed his ankles? Which FANs will be put into the free agency neutral zone? Plenty of dead weight sitting in the aluminum bleachers the last 20 Years. Give the Frauds a Cue Card when to stand and cheer. Text a guy like Thor and his Hard Hat right out of the stadium because he had a few bumps prior to the Stand-by for Park Avenues' decision when game time will arrive. I call bullshit and vote to remove this theme park regime out the door--no severance.

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fish's picture

June 24, 2021 at 05:29 pm

I thought the same thing of Aaron Jones (that no matter how good he is the Packers wouldn't be able to sign him). Obviously, I was wrong about Jones. I am guessing that you are wrong about Adams. When the Packers want to keep a guy, they somehow find a way to get it done.

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Coldworld's picture

June 24, 2021 at 12:22 pm

I will wait to see how camp goes and who is our QB before determining answers to this type of question.

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splitpea1's picture

June 24, 2021 at 12:29 pm

Very good article....

I like the idea of re-signing Tonyan and MVS if they meet the requirements you listed above. Adams will be far too expensive. We have plenty of offensive weapons, and while Davante may seem irreplaceable, we'll probably have to do it anyway--maybe with (gasp!) a first round pick. Save the money on Adams and plan ahead or spend it elsewhere.

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MarkinMadison's picture

June 24, 2021 at 12:48 pm

I get the idea of moving on from Adams but l don't agree with it. Farve needed Sterling Sharpe. If Love takes over a year or two too soon he is going to need one reliable player. You take Adams out of the equation and you don't have a pass-catcher on this team who is in the top 50. So I think you find a way to pay the man.

I would re-sign Tonyan sooner than later, if you can make the cap work.

Past Tonyan (on this list), I think that everyone is replaceable. Amari can replace MVS next year. Amari is almost certainly faster. A replacement can be found for Sullivan. Multiple replacements for Patrick are already on the roster. I'm not saying this roster is loaded. I am saying that these guys, I like them, but they are not irreplaceable, and the Packers' cap for 2022 is not in good shape.

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 24, 2021 at 01:16 pm

So Rodgers' 4.51 is "faster" than MVS's 4.37?

OK.

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MarkinMadison's picture

June 24, 2021 at 08:07 pm

Yeah, I have to take a doh on that one. Got my Stokes and my Amaris all mixed up in my head.

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HarryHodag's picture

June 24, 2021 at 01:07 pm

Here's a fact: the team can't afford everyone, especially if Aaron Rodgers hangs around. Sportrac says the Packers are still over the cap by about $20 million.

The Packers did a lot of juggling to get under the cap to start this year and likely won't have that flexibility going into 2022.

Sadly, Adams should be released. There are many quality receivers available. While none of the other receivers except Amari Rodgers will be signed, they can bring a few back cheaply(like MVS) then pick up another receiver via the draft. That frees up $25 mill.

Tonyan should be signed. I would put a higher priority on Kevin King. When healthy he's a solid corner. Yes he screwed up in the playoffs, but his overall play--when on the field---has been good.
Patrick and Sullivan should return only with team-friendly deals. They have replacements on the team.

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greengold's picture

June 24, 2021 at 01:47 pm

Hey HarryHodag!

I respectfully disagree on Davante Adams. Both he and Jaire Alexander are big nuts. We're heading into a time of revenue expansion. Extending Davante now will likely help our cap situation both this season and next, which will be just in time for Alexander's new deal. If AR is not in the Packers plans, the smart move seems to me to bolster the team around your designated franchise QB of the future while he is on his rookie deal, and go for the Lombardi Trophy with as much ammo as you can afford.

Packers can sweeten an Adams deal now too, just to make it happen. Revenues will only increase with the new TV deals coming in. The deal Davante Adams signs this month might look like a steal in 2 years. I don't see the attributes that make him successful diminishing over the next 4 years. His success is in an unparalleled ability to gain separation in the short and midfield ranges. The value in being the best at that will likely remain through his next deal.

Getting Davante done now will also help us get a Tonyan deal done now. I'd bust those out 1-2, as a priority if possible, then wait to see on the rest. The money they can get in Green Bay is as green as anywhere else. Tough to tell if they want to stay or go, but I think this team has broader appeal than many give it credit for, AR or no AR.

I agree with you on King, but I think he's going to be playing for the big bucks we won't likely be able to afford. Maybe none of these guys want an extension, and wish to test the market instead. I think MVS is in that mindset. I don't see the value in extending Lucas Patrick with all we have ready to step in there.

On MVS, he's growing as a WR. There is a chance he does better connecting with Jordan Love. Every QB throws a different ball. Maybe some pressure to perform will be lessened with Love at QB1 and it becomes easier for him. Gotta say, if MVS had the 120ish Targets that Davante got in his year 3, instead of half that total, we might be singing a very, very different tune with MVS.

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HarryHodag's picture

June 25, 2021 at 10:49 am

Sorry, but the pot o' gold has to end somewhere and for the Packers it might already have ended.

Receivers are a dime-a-dozen.

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LambeauPlain's picture

June 24, 2021 at 01:36 pm

The upside if Rodgers sits/retires, is many of the 2022 Packer FAs on the list could be re-signed.

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jont's picture

June 24, 2021 at 01:48 pm

This could be the FO thinking.
Look at the Seattle experience: they got a top 5 QB on a rookie deal and filled the roster with better than average players at nearly every position.
Perhaps Gute and MM are thinking the same thing; if Love turns out to be good and the rest of the roster includes several impact players, then GB remains a final four team with a shot at a superb owl.

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Coldworld's picture

June 24, 2021 at 05:45 pm

Which is why I don’t think you can call this before we know how the QB position shakes out and see some of the roster battles, particularly the O line, but also TE. The only one I would retain with zero question is Alexander.

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stockholder's picture

June 25, 2021 at 09:54 am

Who says? Rodgers may opt out now. Like I stated earlier. And He banks the 20 mil. And they can't trade him.

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TarynsEyes's picture

June 24, 2021 at 01:54 pm

The only scenario where a win-win is obtained, whether Rodgers is or isn't back and Adams stays or goes is if they win the SB, then all the possible cap, player loss, etc is mooted. If an SB win doesn't come to fruition this year, then every move the FO made, everything Rodgers wanted from his actions will all be for naught. Though those who claim success will still be accepting the lesser bar, which I'm sure will be the majority here.

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greengold's picture

June 24, 2021 at 02:47 pm

You make some great points.

The only real success is getting to the Super Bowl and WINNING it. Bringing home the Lombardi Trophy. Getting there is not a success. Winning it is. All else is fodder.

Remembering the 1998 fail against DEN is a real, a very real pain to endure, as a fan.

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TarynsEyes's picture

June 24, 2021 at 03:33 pm

Yes, the SB loss to Denver hurt, but they were in the SB. That's more success than 10 Division Titles and 4 NFCCG's losses will ever amount to.

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Since'61's picture

June 24, 2021 at 02:06 pm

As of today the only FA I would look to re-sign is Tonyan. If Rodgers stays beyond 2021 then I would try to
re-sign Adams as well.

If Rodgers is gone Adams is gone as well most likely following Rodgers.

Every other player on the list can be replaced by better players. Thanks, Since ‘61

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jannes bjornson's picture

June 24, 2021 at 09:58 pm

Including Tonyan.

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gr7070's picture

June 24, 2021 at 04:53 pm

Lucas Patrick?!

We have an incredible amount of potential talent on the OL. There is zero chance Patrick is resigned. He has an incredibly limited ceiling and the IOL is even more crowded.

I actually expect him to be cut this preseason!

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mnbadger's picture

July 02, 2021 at 01:11 pm

I like the Lucas P, but see him as trade bait once TC opens. GPG!

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stockholder's picture

June 24, 2021 at 05:54 pm

I'd like to sign them all. But I just don't believe that thinking is possible. As Long as Gutey is the GM. He will sign his own. And if Rodgers isn't going to be here. They will follow him. If Rodgers retirees. Thats the only way you might keep them. But if Rodgers retirees. MVS is my choice. Because Love will form his own chemistry. You'll only over-pay them or have other issues pop up later.

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nostradanus's picture

June 24, 2021 at 11:07 pm

There’s no way around it, after the 2021 Season there will be blood!
The salary cap is set up to basically penalize the teams that have too many good players, you can’t pay them all.
The Packers have been good for quite awhile and the NFL Cap reaper is coming.
The good news, Gutey is pretty good at finding talent from the draft and the bargain bin.
The Packers may take a bit of a hit in 2022 but they will retool quickly.
Go Pack!

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