Green Bay Packers

3 Players Green Bay Should Extend Right Now

Photo Credit: Raj Mehta (USA TODAY Sports)

The longer headline of this article was “Three Players the Green Bay Packers Should Extend Now Who Are Not Named Aaron Rodgers.” There is more than enough speculation about Rodgers already, and it’s exhausting. Why didn’t they restructure already? Will the team plan on moving on from him this year or next? Does money have anything to do with it? Is a trade possible down the line?

Rodgers has said he wants to play well into his 40s like Tom Brady. At this rate, he will. He should absolutely be a Packer for life. They can win the Super Bowl with the talent around them.

There isn’t really any cap space after the draft, but let’s move past Rodgers and assume he will stay on the team and will be expensive. He’s earned that money. Contracts are restructured and extended all the time. Extending multiple players this year will keep them in Green Bay longer, and hopefully, help future cap issues.

Could it also create some? Sure. But let’s look at three players the Packers should extend right now.

Davante Adams

Hey, didn’t the Packers just re-sign Adams? Nope. He signed a 4-year, $58 million contract in December of 2017. That means after the 2021 season, Adams is a free agent. Adams’ last contract had an $18 million signing bonus, $30 million guaranteed, and will have a cap hit of just under $17 million this season.

The contract extension of Tyler Lockett of the Seattle Seahawks didn’t help the Packers’ wallets either. Lockett signed a 4-year, $69.2 million deal, with $37 million guaranteed.

Adams is, without question, a better receiver than Lockett, and his new deal is some ridiculous money. DeAndre Hopkins, Julio Jones, Keenan Allen, and Amari Cooper are above the $20 million per year contract range. Davante’s next contract will easily be $22-25 million a year. You can’t say he hasn’t earned it, and I don’t see him leaving Green Bay.

Did you forget how his 2020 went? Let’s review. 115 receptions, 1,374 yards, and 18 touchdowns. Yes, 18 touchdowns. And that’s after missing two games earlier in the season. It was career-highs in every major category. His 2021 could be better.

That means the earlier they extend him, the more cap space they can save down the line, especially if they draft another star receiver and have to sign him in four years. A big signing bonus, lots of money guaranteed, and other incentives is very doable for the Packers.  A four-year, $110 million contract sounds right. He might be looking for five but would probably accept a team-friendly deal. Your offense will always be top-5 with Rodgers and Adams on the field together.

Jaire Alexander

Alexander will be in the final year of his four-year rookie contract. But all first-round picks have a team option for a fifth year in their contracts. The Packers have until early May 2021 to exercise that option. When the 2021 salary cap numbers were dropped, that also included the fifth-year options for 2022. Alexander’s number was revealed to be just under $13.3 million.

While it would be a no-brainer for Green Bay to exercise that fifth-year option, it might be even better to extend Jaire now. The Packers can do both: exercise the option in May and then extend before the season is over.

Alexander is arguably one of the best cornerbacks in the league. He has a chance to become the best in 2021. PFF gave Jaire a 90.5-overall rating for the 2020 season. Good cornerbacks aren’t easy to come by, and they don’t come cheap. Corners like Jalen Ramsey, Marlon Humphrey, and Tre’Davious White are making $17-20 million a year. If and when Jaire has another Pro Bowl season, can they afford giant contracts for Alexander, Rodgers, Adams, David Bakhtiari, Aaron Jones, and Kenny Clark?

Much like with Adams, signing bonuses and guaranteed money can go a long way. Would Jaire sign a 4-year, $78 million deal with $45 million guaranteed? Probably. But if they would wait until next year and the Packers win a Super Bowl, many players use that to cash in on a huge contract with teams who have more cap space. Green Bay can always fall back on his option, but it’s not ideal.

We just all have to hope and pray that Alexander wants to stay and that the Packers are smart enough to extend him.

Allen Lazard

Ok, hear this one out.

Currently, Lazard is going to make $850K this season. The 26-year-old has shown real flashes of star power but has also been hampered by injuries.

Say you sign him to a 4-year, $8 million contract with $2 million guaranteed. You now have a reliable receiver for the next four years. Then say he has a breakout year in 2021 and becomes a true No. 2 receiver. Green Bay just saved a bunch of money before heading into next year, and they look like geniuses.

But if Lazard gets injured again or takes a step back, he can always be a cap casualty. Not saying at all it will or should happen, but it would make sense for the Packers. Rodgers trusts Lazard, and that is important.

Were Lazard’s stats impressive in 2020? Not exactly. He had 33 receptions, 450 yards, and three touchdowns. He also missed six games last year. If Lazard can stay healthy, a team-friendly contract provides depths for a few years down the road.

It also would do one additional major thing: motivate Marquez Valdes-Scantling. This is a contract year for MVS. He has the chance to be a superstar wideout, and 2021 could be his big year. He’s that speedy deep threat every team needs, and taking that next step would only help the Packers. Giving a contract to Lazard could help fuel him to earn his post-rookie deal contract.

Would it be the most ideal route to motive MVS? No. But extending a player like Lazard would be very affordable and keep depth and experience on your receiving corps. If he stays healthy, the receiving group of Adams, Lazard, MVS, Devin Funchess, and a possible star rookie from the draft would be deadly.

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