The Green Bay Packers 2022 season was quite a rollercoaster ride. Full of ups and downs, we saw the Packers get off to a 3-1 start, lose seven of their next eight games, pull off a four-game win streak to sneak back into playoff contention, only to lose their final game of the season and miss the playoffs entirely. And now, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered this offseason.
Chief among those questions is whether or not star quarterback Aaron Rodgers will be returning for the 2023 season. Whether it be potentially retiring, or getting traded, there’s a decent chance Rodgers won’t return to Green Bay next season. And as always, he’s remained as cryptic as ever, which certainly hasn’t made things easier for Green Bay.
Regardless of what happens with Rodgers, the Packers have some pending free agents that they are going to want to re-sign this offseason if they want to remain competitive. So with that in mind, let’s take a look at three players Green Bay must re-sign this offseason, and see why they cannot afford to lose these guys.
3. Robert Tonyan
The Packers are light on pass-catching talent, and some of their top options are hitting free agency at the wrong time this offseason. Robert Tonyan managed to put together a nice bounce-back campaign in 2022 after tearing his ACL midway through 2021, but he didn’t come close to reaching the heights he hit in his 11-touchdown 2020 campaign.
Tonyan’s numbers are OK (53 REC, 470 YDS, 2 TD) but they certainly leave a bit to be desired. Tonyan was one of the top red zone threats in the league during his breakout 2020 season, and while Green Bay’s offense certainly didn’t make things easy for Tonyan, he didn’t manage to produce in that manner again this season.
Tonyan likely isn’t going to command a massive deal, and the Packers don’t have another option at tight end behind him. He has a solid rapport with Rodgers under center, and if Green Bay wants to keep Rodgers in town, it makes sense to try to keep some of his top targets in town. For that reason, it makes a lot of sense to re-sign Tonyan on a cheap deal this offseason.
2. Dean Lowry
Dean Lowry isn’t your typical defensive end in the NFL, and he doesn’t rack up gaudy sack numbers (his career-high is just five) but he still finds a way to make an impact. Lowry is a good situational defender who manages to make his mark against the run primarily, and while he didn’t have a great 2022 campaign, it makes a lot of sense to bring him back.
Lowry’s numbers on the season (43 tackles, 0.5 sacks, 1 tackle for loss, 1 pass defended, five quarterback hits) are rather mediocre, but Lowry’s presence on the edge against the run ensures he’s always making an impact. It would obviously be nice to see him rack up more than just half of a sack, but that’s just not the player Lowry is.
Coming off a bit of a rough season, Lowry isn’t going to be the most expensive player available, and given how the Packers defense didn’t necessarily live up to expectations throughout the season, losing Lowry would hurt. He’s not a super flashy player, but he likely could be kept around on a cheap deal, and that would be a very strong under-the-radar move for the Packers.
1. Randall Cobb
Randall Cobb is in a similar spot as Tonyan entering the offseason. He’s not a wildly productive player, but Cobb has a solid rapport with Rodgers, and that’s what makes him very valuable for a team that doesn’t have a top-tier playmaker anymore. And again, with Rodgers’ future up in the air, the Packers are going to have to do what they can to keep Cobb around.
Cobb’s numbers are decent over 13 games of action (34 REC, 417 YDS, 1 TD) but you can’t really expect much more from him at this stage of his career. Cobb will be 33 by the time next season starts, but he still has a lot to offer Rodgers (or whoever is playing under center) as a safety valve who can create space on a crucial third down and make a big play when needed.
Chances are Cobb won’t be looking to land a massive deal in free agency, and if Rodgers stays in Green Bay, you can bet that Cobb will be joining him. He’s not the greatest player ever, but for a team short on talent at the wide receiver position, Cobb’s familiarity with Rodgers is huge. He could be brought back on a team-friendly deal, and it’s clear this would make a lot of sense for both sides.