The Green Bay Packers finished 8-9 and missed the playoffs. Without a doubt, there is going to be some tough decisions made regarding their roster. While there will be some players that are cut or restructured, there are others who will leave via free agency. However, if the Packers are to be competitive in 2023, there are a few “in-house” free agents that they need to bring back.
Packers Free Agent #1: Keisean Nixon
All-Pro kick return specialist Keisean Nixon has to be at the top of the front office’s list of priorities this offseason. He led the NFL in kick returns (35), kick return yards (1,009), and kick return touchdowns (one). Amazingly, he did this while playing just half the season as the team’s return specialist.
In addition to his All-Pro return abilities, Nixon is also a capable backup cornerback. This past season, Nixon had an interception, forced fumble, and held quarterbacks to an 85.7 passer rating when targeted while playing just 28% of the defense’s snaps.
That being said, his return abilities alone make him worth bringing back. Green Bay had not had a good special teams unit in decades until Rich Bisaccia took over and brought in Nixon. Hopefully both are back in 2023.
Packers Free Agent #2: Robert Tonyan
After missing half of 2021 with a torn ACL, tight end Robert Tonyan played in all 17 games in 2022 (starting three of them). While he was far from the player that he was in 2020 when he caught 11 touchdown passes, he quietly put together the second-best season of his career. Tonyan’s 53 receptions, 470 yards, and two touchdowns were all the second-best marks of his career.
It should be noted, too, that 81 of Tonyan’s season 470 receiving yards came in the final two weeks of the season. In other words, 17% of his production came in two weeks. In these last two games, it seemed as if Tonyan was finally starting to look like the player he was before he tore his ACL. If those games’ production were multiplied over an entire season, he would have 48 receptions for 648 yards. That’s not too bad if you ask me (or anyone).
Packers Free Agent #3: Mason Crosby
While there are some that believe the Packers should move on from their all-time leading scorer, there is one big reason to keep him around: consistency. It is absolutely true that Crosby has lost some power in his leg and that his kickoffs did not result in nearly enough touchbacks. However, he remained as steady as ever and was one of the best leaders on the team.
This was evident in Green Bay’s victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Week 17. With the clock winding down in the first half, Crosby went rogue, ignoring Aaron Rodgers and Matt LaFleur who were drawing up a Hail Mary play. He led his unit onto the field and drilled a long field goal in the frigid Lambeau weather.
The time is absolutely coming for the Packers to find a new kicker; 2023 is just not that time, though. Look, there are plenty of uncertainties for this roster going into next season. Having one constant, if just for one more year, is not really that bad of a thing.
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