The Green Bay Packers just signed cornerback Jaire Alexander to a multi-year extension that made him the highest paid player at his position. The deal assured that the Packers top cover corner would remain in Green Bay through the prime of his career.
But who are the players Packers GM Brian Gutekunst should consider extending next? Here is a list of the top five candidates for an extension.
These players all have contracts that expire at the end of the 2022 or 2023 season. We look at the reasons to extend these players and the reasons the Packers may hesitate to sign them to a lengthy new contract.
- TE Robert Tonyan
Tonyan is going to play on a one-year, prove-it deal in 2022. He missed the second half of the season after suffering a serious knee injury and it’s still unclear whether he’ll be healthy enough to start the 2022 season.
In 2020, Tonyan had a breakout year, catching 52 passes for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns. His catch percentage was 88.1 percent according to pro-football-reference.com.
Last season, the former Indiana State star’s numbers fell off. Part of it was the fact that injuries along the offensive line forced Tonyan and the Packers other tight ends to stay in to block more often than the previous season and part of it was because it would be very difficult for Tonyan or any player to sustain his 2020 numbers.
If Tonyan plays well this season, the Packers could look to give him a contract extension. The team does have other options at tight end and the play of Josiah Deguara and Tyler Davis will also figure in to whether Gutekunst offers Tonyan a long-term deal.
- WR Allen Lazard
Lazard was given a second-round tender offer by the Packers this offseason although the 26-year-old Iowa State alum has yet to sign the offer.
Since he joined the Packers late in the 2018 season, Lazard his increased his production each season and last year he had a career best 40 catches for 513 yards and eight touchdowns.
With both Davante Adams and Marquez Valdes-Scantling not returning, Lazard has a chance to take an even bigger role in the offense in 2022.
At 6’5” and 227 pounds, Lazard has excellent size and is one of the top blocking wide receivers in the league. He has reliable hands and runs precise routes.
If he has a successful 2022 season and is amendable to returning, the Packers could look to extend him. The fact that the team drafted three wide receivers this season and Amari Rodgers in the third round of 2021 may give the Packers reasons to reconsider giving Lazard a big payday if any of those younger players step up and have a strong season.
- S Adrian Amos
Amos is in the final year of the deal he signed when he joined the Packers as a free agent prior to the 2019 season. The former Penn State star has been a reliable and steady leader for the Packers secondary. Amos is not a big-play machine, but his consistency allows his teammates to make plays and he is almost never out of position.
The Packers may wait to see how Amos performs in 2022. He will turn 30 before the 2023 season so that may make the Packers hesitate a bit before offering him a long-term deal.
The Packers don’t have much depth at safety right now behind Amos and Darnell Savage which may make them more likely to consider re-signing Amos to a new contract.
This will be a pivotal season for Amos and it will go a long way towards determining his future in Green Bay.
- OLB Rashan Gary
The Packers just opted to pick up Gary’s fifth-year option, so he is under contract for 2022 and 2023 although the team could free up some cap money for 2023 if they sign the former Michigan star to a new, long-term deal.
Gary has improved every year since the Packers drafted him in the first round back in 2019. In 2021, he recorded a career-high 9.5 sacks which led the team and he consistently got pressure on opposing quarterbacks.
Gary appears to be on the brink of becoming a Pro Bowl player and the Packers would love to lock the 24-year-old New Jersey native to a new deal to keep him in Green Bay through his prime.
The fact that the other starting edge rusher, Preston Smith, will turn 30 later this season, may increase the urgency to sign Gary to a long-term deal.
- OL Elgton Jenkins
Because Jenkins was a second-round pick, the Packers don’t have a fifth-year option on him. That means Jenkins will become a free agent after the 2022 season unless the Packers sign him to a new contract.
Jenkins has proven his talent and versatility. He earned Pro Bowl honors at left guard in 2020 and then moved to left tackle last season when David Bakhtiari missed nearly the entire season with a knee injury. He played at a very high level before Jenkins was lost for the season with a knee injury of his own.
It is unlikely Jenkins will be ready to start his season on time, but he has a lot of value for the Packers. He can play any of the five starting positions and play them well. That gives the coaching staff a lot of options to get their best five linemen on the field.
Gutekunst may want to wait until Jenkins proves he’s back from his knee injury and still able to play at a high level, but that may also raise the cost of re-signing the former Mississippi State star.
Jenkins will likely be the cornerstone of the Packers offensive line for next few seasons if he re-signs with the team and he should be the Packers top priority for the next big extension.
Follow Gil Martin on Twitter @GilPackers
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