It was a disappointing end to the season for the Green Bay Packers and their fans. It will be unfamiliar territory this weekend, watching other teams in the NFL Playoffs while their season has already been written. Because of this, the shift in focus is on next season, and there are many contract questions that will need to be addressed. Two of the biggest situations are with Aaron Jones and David Bakhtiari — two of the team's most talented players.
Both Jones and Bakhtiari played at a top level this season, when they were on the field. However, the issue is the latter part of that sentence. Both offensive stars missed time this season, and in seasons past. Of course, they also aren't getting younger while their cap hits are getting larger.
Gutekunst: Aaron Jones and David Bakhtiari Will Be Back
General manager Brian Gutekunst spoke to the media Friday addressing the Aaron Jones and David Bakhtiari contracts. While both players have cap hits that cannot be on the book to start next season, he says both players will be back in Green Bay next year.
"The way we're doing things, we'll probably restructure everybody," said Gutekunst, alluding to an active offseason restructuring, not adding new players, once again.
Aaron Jones Contract
This season was a frustrating one for Packers fans, and many of the issues could have been solved by handing the ball to Aaron Jones more often. In fact, it undoubtedly would have Green Bay in the playoffs, as there were multiple games that would have multiple results had Jones been involved in the red zone.
The reduced role this season was, in part, a result to nagging injuries. However, after using a second-round pick on A.J. Dillon, there clearly were forces from above wanting Dillon to see an increased workload, especially in short-yardage situations, despite him not being the best talent in this area.
Because of this, it seemed possible the Aaron Jones contract would be one to get rid of this offseason. However, releasing Jones would result in a $9.5 dead cap, despite there being an out in the contract.
Currently, the Aaron Jones contract has a $20M cap hit in 2023. There are two years left on Jones' deal, with two void years afterward. This means Jones would be paid, but not on the team.
It is expected that the Aaron Jones contract would be extended, getting rid of the void years but increasing the guaranteed money. While this will hurt the Packers in the future, it will lighten the load in 2023.
David Bakhtiari Contract
Multiple surgeries and mental hurdles were needed to get David Bakhtiari back on the field this season. However, he played like an All-Pro when he was on the field. Following the Week 18 loss, Bakhtiari said he feels good and has a lot left to give, sharing his desire to continue playing.
It is clear Bakhtiari's confidence was much higher at the end of the season. We are talking about his confidence in his knee. He is finally trusting that he is healthy, and going into the offseason healthy is a big deal. While I understand the opinion of not wanting Bakhtiari against the book due to a lack of trust he will be on the field, this situation looks to be behind us.
The David Bakhtiari contract has an out this offseason as well. However, much like the Aaron Jones contract, it would result in a massive dead cap of $23.1M. Currently, his cap hit in 2023 is $29M, and he is under contract through 2024.
Bakhtiari has helped the Packers out by restructuring his contract a lot, which is why there is such a massive dead cap and cap hit. We shouldn't forget that the Packers restructured the David Bakhtiari contract to clear $7.6M, then they didn't really use that money (smart).
Much like Jones, expect Bakhtiari to see an extension, resulting in a lower cap hit in 2023, but there will be more guaranteed money in bonuses, etc.
Green Bay Packers Free Agents 2023
- Adrian Amos, S, UFA
- Allen Lazard, WR, UFA
- Randall Cobb, WR, UFA
- Marcedes Lewis, TE, UFA
- Robert Tonyan, TE, UFA
- Yosh Nijman, OT, UFA
- Mason Crosby, K, UFA
- Keisean Nixon, CB/KR, UFA
- Dallin Leavitt, S, UFA
- Johnathan Ford, S, UFA
- Dean Lowry, DE, UFA
- Jarran Reed, DE, UFA
- Justin Hollins, DE, UFA
- Eric Wilson, OLB, UFA
- Krys Barnes, LB, RFA
- Tyler Davis, TE, RFA
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