Green Bay Packers

What Are the Packers' Options With Yosh Nijman?

Photo Credit: Mark Hoffman via USA TODAY Sports

The Green Bay Packers aren’t shy about investing in their offensive line, and only one of their starters without a long-term deal in place is a question mark for the future. Tackle Yosh Nijman is a restricted free agent, and after four years of development, it will be interesting to see how the Packers handle his situation.

Role

The Packers added Nijman as a developmental prospect after he went undrafted in 2019. He spent most of his rookie season on the practice squad. Just one month after being promoted, they put him on injured reserve. It was basically a redshirt season. In 2020, he was active but didn’t play on offense. Nijman started to play on offense in 2021 when David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins were injured. He started eight games at left tackle, but the coaching staff decided to bench him and move Billy Turner to the left side in the playoffs.

This season, Nijman kicked off the year as the starting left tackle while Bakhtiari was still recovering from his knee injury and played pretty well. When Bakhtiari was back, they shared snaps for a couple of games; still, Nijman was the backup. However, the Packers moved Elgton Jenkins from right tackle to left guard starting in Week 7, and Nijman played the rest of the season on the right side.

By the end of the season, Nijman had played 756 offensive snaps (69.1%), the highest number among Packers tackles. He played 201 at left tackle and 555 snaps at right tackle. Nijman also had 66 special teams snaps (15.42%).

Performance

Nijman was a good starter for the Packers this season. His 63.1 PFF grade was fourth among Packers offensive linemen, just behind Bakhtiari, Jenkins, and rookie Zach Tom.

Impressively, Nijman was first in the NFL in run block win rate (86%), which had been considered one of his weaknesses, and he spent most of the season in the top ten in pass block win rate too. However, he was not as effective on the right side. After allowing only five total pressures as a left tackle (one pressure every 40 snaps), he gave up 20 pressures as the right tackle (one every 28 snaps). He was not 100% in the Week 18 game against the Detroit Lions, gave up two sacks in less than one half, and the Packers benched him in favor of Zach Tom.

Contractual options

Even though Nijman has four years with the Packers organization, he spent just five weeks in 2019 on the active roster or injury reserve, which means he didn’t accrue that season. With only three accrued seasons in the league, he will be a restricted free agent. Therefore, it’s easier for Green Bay to decide what to do.

The first option would be to give Nijman a mid- or long-term extension, securing him for more than one year and possibly with a lower cap hit in the first season.

The second, most likely option is to apply a restricted free-agent tender on him. It could be a first-round tender ($6.01 million), a second-rounder tender ($4.3 million), or just the right of first refusal ($2.63 million). In this case, the player would still be allowed to negotiate with other teams. But if he signs an offer sheet, the Packers would have the option to match the offer or receive corresponding compensation.

The third, highly improbable scenario would see the Packers deciding not to apply a tender. That would make Nijman an unrestricted free agent and open to sign with any other team.

Considering Nijman’s development and performance in the last two years, the best and most probable path is that the Packers apply a second-round tender, the same they used on tight end Robert Tonyan and wide receiver Allen Lazard in the last two offseasons. While the first-round tender is a realistic option, it could cost $1.7 million more, and every dollar counts against the 2023 cap.

Moreover, the second-round tender should be enough to keep teams from giving Nijman an offer sheet. If one team is desperate enough to be willing to offer Nijman a contract plus giving up a pick, the Packers should be more than happy to receive a valuable asset, while Tom is more likely to be the long-term answer at RT anyway.

If the Packers keep Nijman for one more season under the tender, his long-term role may be clearer, and it will probably be as the swing tackle. Then, it becomes easier to calculate his value for a longer contract.

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