Tuesday marked the Green Bay Packers’ first day of minicamp, meaning it was the first mandatory practice of the Packers’ offseason program. Here’s what you need to know about Green Bay’s first “full” practice of the summer, which included quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ attendance.
Allen Lazard continues holdout
Before practice started, head coach Matt LaFleur noted that all 89 players under contract were expected to be at practice on Tuesday. Unfortunately, that did not include wide receiver Allen Lazard, who was a restricted free agent this offseason and was tendered with a second-round designation. Lazard has yet to sign his contract offer worth around $4 million for one year of service, which means he cannot be fined by the team for missing minicamp. Technically, this type of a holdout can continue into November before hard deadlines are hit.
Rotating are the tackles
The Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Ryan Wood reported from practice that with quarterback Aaron Rodgers under center the Packers’ left bookend was Cole Van Lanen and that the right tackle was Yosh Nijman. The pair rotated back to Nijman at left and Van Lanen at right when backup quarterback Jordan Love took snaps, where they had typically lined up during voluntary practices this spring.
This could be a sign of where the team thinks Nijman will start off the season, as the expectation is that left tackle David Bakhtiari (who worked with the rehab group on Tuesday) will return to the starting lineup by Week 1 but that Elgton Jenkins, who tore his ACL last year, will likely start the season on the Physically Unable to Perform list. Jenkins is the most likely candidate to replace Billy Turner, who was let go this offseason, as the team’s starting right bookend.
In OTAs, Van Lanen was subbed out at right tackle at times for Royce Newman, who saw most of his playing time last season as the Packers’ right guard. Van Lanen has only played one snap in Green Bay in the regular season while Nijman has developed into one of the better swing tackles in the league.
A new nickelback? Don’t make your bets yet.
The Packers had two open voluntary practices before minicamp, one with and one without cornerback Jaire Alexander. With Alexander, the All-Pro played in the slot while Eric Stokes and Rasul Douglas played on the outside in nickel looks. Without Alexander, the newly-signed Keisean Nixon — who was thought to be a special teams contributor primarily — got looks inside over 2021 draft pick Shemar Jean-Charles.
Today, per Woods, Douglas actually lined up in the slot with Alexander and Stokes on the perimeters. At this point, there seems to be no true “slot” in Green Bay with the team testing players out in the role on a daily basis.
Wood also noted that Quay Walker has finally cracked the Packers’ first-team unit, overtaking Krys Barnes who has started 23 games in Green Bay over the last two years. In the Packers’ two open practices since rookie minicamp, Barnes was ahead of Walker on the depth chart.
Proof of concept: More two-back looks
Last month, Acme Packing Company posted a full breakdown of how the Packers use running backs Aaron Jones and A.J. Dillon on the field together following new offensive coordinator Adam Stenavich’s comments that he is trying to use them together more often. As we noted, this is a unique personnel package that very few teams, like the Saints and Colts, actually use with any frequency.
Per Wood, Green Bay actually seems to be using these packages in practice, which means we could see an uptick of these plays in 2022. It wouldn’t be the worst idea, considering these two running backs are arguably the Packers’ two best offensive skill players. Maybe Green Bay’s top receiver is actually Jones?
Aaron Rodgers will retire a Packer
According to The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman, Aaron Rodgers was asked if he was going to retire a Green Bay Packer, to which he replied “definitely.” He also implied that his contract was a one-year deal, which is not how many interpreted it when he signed the extension. Per Spotrac, Rodgers will earn $42 million in cash in 2022 but has guaranteed money running through 2023 already. His 2024 money guarantees on the fifth day of the waiver period in that offseason.
In theory, Rodgers can retire whenever he wants. With that being said, the team can go after his signing bonus if he does not fulfill his contract and he has years of guaranteed baked into his deal. Filed this under “Will still need to be recruited every offseason.”