There has been some discussion of late over which players from the 2020 Draft class will get a second contract in Green Bay and remain on the Packers roster.
Technically, Jordan Love already has, but it’s not a true extension and instead simply replaces his 2024 fifth-year option. The Packers selected nine players in the 2020 draft: Jordan Love, AJ Dillon, Josiah Deguara, Kamal Martin, Jon Runyan Jr., Jake Hanson, Simon Stepaniak, Vernon Scott, and Jonathan Garvin.
Martin, Stepaniak and Scott are already gone, and Garvin is a long shot to make the team this season due to the depth at the EDGE position. That leaves Love, Dillon, Deguara, Runyan Jr., and Hanson.
Spoiler alert: Hanson isn’t getting a long-term contract extension, so really there are only four players who would be under consideration.
Green Bay Packers Roster Turnover Through the Years
This isn’t necessarily unusual. It’s not often a team keeps a huge number of draft picks from a given year beyond their rookie deals, and Green Bay is no different. There is only one player remaining on the roster from the 2018 NFL Draft, which was Brian Gutekunst’s first as GM: Jaire Alexander.
Rashan Gary will inevitably get an extension with the Packers, but with Darnell Savage not looking likely to stick around beyond 2023, that would mean only Gary and Elgton Jenkins made it to a second contract from the 2019 Draft.
Packers’ 2020-Drafted Offensive Players Under the Microscope
Love is the real X factor here. If he plays well in 2023 and the Packers decide he’s the QB they want to build around, the fate of the rest of the 2020 class won’t really matter. If Love isn’t who the Packers think he is, it suddenly looks ugly.
There is an assumption floating around that Dillon will be the Packers starting running back in 2024 and Aaron Jones won’t be on the team, which would of course mean an extension for Dillon.
Green Bay can save $11.4M by cutting Jones from the Packers roster next year, but they’d have to do it post-June 1, and therefore the savings wouldn’t help them until then. So it wouldn’t be an extra $11.4M to spend on top end free agents. If they cut him pre-June 1, they save $4.8m and take on $12.4m in dead cap. Is it really worth it? Unless Love is terrible in 2023 and the Packers embark on a full rebuild as a result, it’s probably better to keep Jones in green and gold.
That would mean Dillon is probably still playing second fiddle, which could complicate contract talks on both sides. Do the Packers want to pay their second running back premium money? Does Dillon want to re-sign with a team where he isn’t ‘the guy’?
Partly due to injury and partly due to his usage, Josiah Deguara has 371 receiving yards through three seasons. His involvement on offense may expand this year given his experience relative to the other tight ends on the roster and with Love – who seems to have a bit of a rapport with him – at quarterback.
If he proves valuable enough in his H-back capacity, he could be brought back at a cheap rate, but it’s difficult to envisage him being a true factor for years to come as a traditional receiver on the Packers roster, especially given the drafting of Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft.
Runyan Jr., has been a solid to good guard, but he’s not one of the best in the league. Players like him have a lot of value on the free agent market because finding offensive linemen you can rely on isn’t easy. But do the Packers want to be the ones to pay him?
Their current interior options behind Runyan Jr. on the Packers roster don’t look particularly appetizing. But if former third-rounder Sean Rhyan, who projects as a guard, bounces back from his anonymous rookie season and develops, the Packers could be fine with letting Runyan Jr. go.
It feels like the front office will want to keep the likes of Dillon, Runyan Jr. and Deguara on the Packers roster, but it’s not a foregone conclusion. From a calculated, roster-building perspective, it’s up for debate as to whether they should.
Ultimately though, Jordan Love was always going to define the success or failure of the 2020 Draft class, and that remains the case entering a pivotal year for the group.
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