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Cheese Curds, 3/1: Packers’ tag-and-trade possibility for Jones, starting lineups in 2021

The Packers haven’t used a franchise tag since 2010. There’s one way it could make sense in 2021.

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Miami Dolphins v Green Bay Packers Photo by Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Since Ted Thompson’s return to Green Bay as the Packers’ general manager in 2005, the team has used the franchise tag just twice. In both cases, the team used it on defensive linemen — first on Corey Williams in 2008 and again on Ryan Pickett in 2010.

Those two moves ended up having very different outcomes. Pickett would re-sign a long-term deal with the Packers a few weeks later. Williams instead was traded days after getting the tag, netting the Packers a nice draft pick as compensation.

In 2021, there is really only one player who would make any sense as a potential tag recipient, but the Packers would likely be taking the Williams approach if they were to tag running back Aaron Jones. Still, that could be a shrewd move by Brian Gutekunst, especially if he knows that he cannot or will not re-sign Jones and if he would be able to work out a deal for some solid draft compensation. There’s a little bit of smoke connecting Jones and the Miami Dolphins, a team that has four picks in the top 50. If Gutey could swing a trade for the 50th overall pick — hell, if he could even get a third-rounder at 81 — that would be a tremendous move.

If that doesn’t happen, don’t expect Jones to get a tag or to return as the Packers’ starter in 2021. That job likely belongs to AJ Dillon, the team’s second-round pick from a year ago. But projecting much of the rest of the roster is more difficult. Between one major injury, some shuffling on the interior of the offensive line, and a few potential roster cuts yet to come on defense, there are a number of moving parts to predict. Still, one beat writer gave it a go to guess at who will be the team’s starting 22 (plus three specialists).

Packers' projected starting lineups: How they'd look Week 1 – The Athletic (subscription)
The big surprises, such as they are, include David Bakhtiari suiting up in week one, Dean Lowry remaining on the team, and Richard Sherman arriving via free agency.

Elgton Jenkins and Adrian Amos were invaluable to 2020 Packers | Packers.com
Jenkins earned a Pro Bowl nod after taking the field for every offensive snap of the season, lining up at four different positions to do so. Amos was similarly versatile, missing only a few snaps on defense at the end of blowouts.

Playing tag with Aaron Jones could benefit Packers in draft | Packersnews.com (subscription)
Pete Dougherty suggests that the Packers could tag-and-trade Jones, much the way they did with Corey Williams back in 2008. Green Bay gave Williams the franchise tag, then traded him to Cleveland for a second-round pick that they would later use on Brian Brohm. If the Packers do tag Jones, however, they will need to carry the tag amount (projected to be about $8.5 million) on the cap until his trade.

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