The Green Bay Packers have a lot of questions to answer this offseason as they have a few key top free agents to address over the next couple of months. The team would of course love to bring almost everyone back but it might not be that easy with the Packers’ horrible cap situation not only for this year but for the next few years. Even with restructuring contracts, the Packers might have to get uncomfortable and cut a couple of notable players. It’s going to be a long, wild offseason and decision time is coming up soon for these top free agents.
ICYMI: #Packers free agents: Who stays? Who goes? https://t.co/DBm7uKcdbX via @247sports
— Mark Eckel (@MarkEckel08) January 13, 2023
Packers’ 2023 Top Free Agents
Allen Lazard; Wide Receiver
Going into the 2022 season, Allen Lazard was poised to take the next step as the Packers’ number-one wide receiver after Davante Adams‘ departure. The 27-year-old caught 60 passes for 788 yards, both team and career highs, and six touchdowns. He also is one of the best blocking wide receivers in the league and plays a huge role in that department. This all while playing on a second-round restricted free-agent tender that saw him earn only $3.99M for 2022.
Lazard did have struggles holding on to the ball throughout the season, catching 60 percent of his passes, which is a career low. Although seeing a little bit more out of him would’ve been helpful, the fifth-year wide receiver is set to get a solid payday on the open market as one of the top free agents at wide receiver.
Robert Tonyan; Tight End
One of the biggest questions to ask this offseason is if the Packers should bring back Robert Tonyan. He has had quite the role on this team over the past few seasons and it started with a breakout season in 2020 when he caught an amazing 52 passes on 59 targets and had 586 yards with 11 touchdowns. By that time, he was considered one of the best tight ends in the league. He was on his way to another good season in 2021 before he tore his ACL in week eight. Before the injury that season, he had 204 yards with two touchdowns and still played a huge role on the team.
Tonyan came back in 2022 playing all 17 games, having 470 yards and two touchdowns. While his production has gone down since 2020, he still has been a reliable option for the Packers when the ball was thrown his way. Because of the downward trend, he won’t get as much as previously thought in free agency. Tonyan has certainly expressed interest in coming back and with the Packers entering next season thin at the position, a scenario is there to bring him back but only at the right price.
Adrian Amos; Safety
Ever since signing Adrian Amos in free agency in 2019, he has been a model of consistency and steady play. That’s why he’s one of the important top free agents in 2023. However, in a contract year that he needed to continue that play, he fell off and wasn’t the same player in 2022. Amos had only one interception this season and that came in week 17. He also only had five pass breakups, both his lowest since 2017.
It’s hard to know for sure if this was just a one-year blunder in a defense that was down as a whole for most of the season or if he’s on the decline at age 29 and what will be his age 30 season in 2023. Amos is projected to get a pretty solid multi-year deal out on the open market despite his blunders this past season. Due to cap issues, that might spell the end in Green Bay unless he takes a pay cut or a team-friendly deal. No matter what happens, Amos’ gained a lot of respect in his tenure as a Green Bay Packer.
Keisean Nixon; Kick Returner/Cornerback
Now comes probably the easiest decision of the offseason for the Packers and that’s bringing back their stud kick returner. It’s been a long time since anyone has said that in Green Bay but this time they might’ve found the answer. After weeks of drops and minimal gains in the return game, the Packers finally did something about it as they cut Amari Rogers and put Keisean Nixon back there on the kick returns.
Nixon had 35 kickoff returns for 1,009 yards, both first among players. He averaged 28.8 yards per return (2nd), had five 50+ yard kickoff returns (1st), and had returned a kickoff for a touchdown. Nixon became only the second kick returner in franchise history to have 1000+ yards, 1+ TD, and average 28+ yards per return, joining Dave Hampton who did it in 1971. This unbelievable season on special teams earned him AP First-Team All-Pro honors for kick returners. Re-signing Nixon to a multi-year deal is a no-brainer.
Mason Crosby; Kicker
This will no doubt be the most emotional decision the Packers will make not only among the top free agents this offseason but in team history. Mason Crosby has played 16 seasons in the NFL and all 16 have been with Green Bay. He is only one of two players, Aaron Rodgers being the other, left standing from the Packers Super Bowl team in the 2010 season. The 38-year-old kicker is the Packers’ all-time leader in points with 1,918. No player in team history has played more consecutive games than Crosby.
With all that being said, feelings can’t get in the way of decision-making moving forward. Crosby’s leg strength has noticeably decreased, so much so that he couldn’t get it to the endzone on kickoffs some of the time. He also has missed a couple of long kicks that he’s made in years past. He’s still a solid kicker and has shown his accuracy, so if the Packers bring him back, it’s because of that and shouldn’t be because of his past. If this is the end for Crosby in Green Bay, thank you.
Other Notable Free Agents
Randall Cobb; Wide Receiver
Yosh Nijman; Left/Right Tackle (Restricted)
Dean Lowry; Defensive End
Marcedes Lewis; Tight End
Jarran Reed; Defensive End
Rudy Ford; Safety
Krys Barnes; Linebacker (Restricted)
Justin Hollins; EDGE
Jake Hanson; Center (Exclusive-rights)