The Green Bay Packers drafted Lukas Van Ness with the 13th overall pick in the first round of the 2023 NFL Draft. The pick, while frustrating to fans that wanted the team to [finally] draft a wide receiver in the first round, made sense given the Packers’ lack of depth at edge rusher.
In addition to Van Ness, the Packers drafted Karl Brooks and Colby Wooden to add depth to their defensive line. However, they did not draft any other players that can play on the edge. Yet, for some reason, one NFL analyst suggested that the team part ways with 2022 fifth round pick Kingsley Enagbare.
NFL Analyst Suggests the Green Bay Packers Should Trade Kingsley Enagbare
Alex Ballentine of Bleacher Report recently wrote an article in which he named David Bakhtiari, Darnell Savage, and Kingsley Enagbare as three players Green Bay could look to trade yet this offseason. Of Enagbare, he wrote:
“Kingsley Enagbare is coming off a solid rookie season. Rashan Gary’s ACL tear pressed him into the starting lineup as a fifth-round draft pick, but he stepped up and offered three sacks, five tackles for a loss and eight quarterback hits.
“That’s not bad for a Day 3 pick at a premium position.
“There’s a great case to be made that the 23-year-old will wind up being a serviceable rotational pass-rusher throughout his rookie deal. But there’s also the case that he’s not going to have the chance to rise above that role and is an interesting trade candidate because of it.
“Gary hasn’t signed a contract extension, but he’s not going anywhere. Preston Smith could be a trade candidate, but there’s not enough of a salary-cap pay-off after restructuring his contract this offseason.
“That leaves the Packers with Gary, Smith and first-round pick Lukas Van Ness as the heart of the pass rush for at least the next two years.
“Enagbare’s play as a rookie might be enough to entice a team that has an injury or just doesn’t have much pass-rushing depth to make an offer for Enagbare.
“It’s not an idea the Packers should reject out of hand.”
Ballentine acknowledges that Enagbare played well when his playing time increased when Gary tore his ACL. He is also absolutely right to say that Gary and Van Ness will be part of Green Bay’s pass rush for years to come. However, Ballentine also misses the mark on a few very important details.
The Green Bay Packers Should Not Trade Kingsley Enagbare
When Gary went down, Enagbare filled in nicely, but the pass rush depth and overall production was hurt. And that is, perhaps, the biggest reason why the Packers need to keep Enagbare. Since there is no guarantee that Gary will be healthy to start the season, trading away one of the top four pass rushers on the team seems like an ill-advised decision.
The Packers are also in the beginning stages of a youth movement. Preston Smith is one of just three players on the roster over the age of 30. Due to the direction Green Bay has chosen to go, trading away a young edge rusher would be in contrast to their current philosophy.
Speaking of Smith, there is a real possibility that he could be a cap casualty in 2024 or 2025. Green Bay could save $3.4 million if he were cut next season and nearly $8 million if cut in 2025. That being said, if he were cut following the 2023 season, the Packers would have just a $13.9 million dead cap hit in 2024 and no further financial hits, would would save them approximately $52 million over the following three seasons.
In other words, the Packers do not have any real good reason to trade Enagbare. He is vital to their depth at edge rusher, which is just one injury away from becoming a real problem again. Additionally, his rookie contract is the most affordable of the group of pass rushers, which is important to the team as they recover from the Aaron Rodgers fiasco.
Enagbare will be a Packer for the duration of his rookie contract, and hopefully even longer.