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Former Packer Dean Lowry signs with in-division rival Minnesota Vikings

Lowry started 80 games over 7 seasons with Green Bay

NFL: OCT 15 Packers at Vikings

Yesterday, former Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan signed with the division rival Chicago Bears. On Friday, the Packers lost another starter to the NFC North, this time defensive lineman Dean Lowry to the Minnesota Vikings.

According to NFL reporter Aaron Wilson, Lowry signed a two-year deal worth $8.5 million, including a $3 million signing bonus. Most contracts with that type of structure are typically guaranteed one-year contracts that are essentially optional — from the team’s perspective — in the second year.

Either way, the Packers couldn’t afford a salary like that on their books, as shown by Ken Ingalls’ breakdown of Green Bay’s cap situation below. As it stands right now, it’s going to be a tight squeeze just to be able to get their rookie contracts under the cap in 2023, especially if they’re able to land the 13th overall pick in exchange for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.

Lowry was originally drafted by the Packers back in 2016 as a fourth-round pick out of Northwestern. After coming off the bench as a rookie, he started taking on starting responsibilities in 2017 and managed to play in 111 games over his career in Green Bay. 80 of those games were starts.

At one point in 2021, it looked like Lowry was having a career resurgence when went on a hot streak in October that included four quarterback hits, three sacks and two tackles for a loss. Unfortunately, a disappointing 2022 season for the Packers’ defensive line led to one of the worst run defenses in the league last year.

With Lowry now out of the picture, Green Bay will have to replace snaps from both of their 2022 preferred starters at 3-4 defensive end, as Jarran Reed has also re-signed with the Seattle Seahawks on a two-year deal. At the moment, the defensive linemen for the Packers who have playing experience under defensive coordinator Joe Barry are starting nose tackle Kenny Clark, 2022 first-round pick Devonte Wyatt and 2021 fifth-round pick T.J. Slaton. Slaton has mostly been used as Clark’s backup but has seen some reps at 3-4 defensive end. Wyatt was Lowry’s injury replacement once Lowry was placed on injured reserve last season.

At the very least, they’re going to have to add two more players to that defensive line rotation before they can roll out a functional unit moving forward. The cap-poor Packers will have to wait a while before they can search through the free agency bargain bin, though. If they can’t find some bodies, they’re going to have to draft them in April.