According to NFL insider Aaron Wilson, the Green Bay Packers signed their first-round pick Lukas Van Ness to his rookie contract on Tuesday. Van Ness, an outside linebacker, comes to Green Bay by way of Iowa — where Van Ness recorded 13 sacks and 19 tackles for loss over the past two seasons.
The 6’5”, 272-pound pass-rusher is expected to compete for a starting job opposite of returning starter Preston Smith, as Rashan Gary will likely begin his 2023 campaign on the physically unable to perform list after suffering an ACL that ended his 2022 season prematurely. Van Ness will compete with Justin Hollins, Kingsley Enagbare and Jonathan Garvin for the replacement starter role.
Per Spotrac, the 13th overall pick’s four-year contract with the Packers is expected to be around $17.4 million including a $9.6 million signing bonus for a 2023 cap hit of $3.2 million. For reference, the 14th overall pick in the draft (Broderick Jones), signed for $16.6 million and a $9.1 million signing bonus. Jones’ entire deal was fully guaranteed.
Now that Van Ness has signed, the final Packers draft picks left without a deal are the team’s second-round choices: tight end Luke Musgrave and receiver Jayden Reed. Second-round picks won a significant bargaining chip this offseason when Seattle’s Derick Hall (37th overall pick) was able to fully guarantee the first three years of his rookie contract’s salary.
The gains that second-round picks have led to a slow trickle of second-round picks signing their deals in the two months since April’s draft, despite the fact that virtually every third- through seventh-round pick has already inked a contract. For perspective, Only two players who were selected between the 40th and 52nd overall picks in the draft have signed a contract.
Luckily, for the Packers, the two players in that range who have signed their contracts were the selections that were made immediately before Musgrave and Reed. Hopefully, this means that the team can get the skeleton of the deal done sooner rather than later.
B.J. Ojulari, who was drafted one pick ahead of Musgrave, got two years of his salary fully guaranteed and $1.07 million of his $1.53 million salary in Year 3 guaranteed. According to Spotrac, Mugrave’s contract is expected to be in the ballpark of a four-year deal worth $8.48 million including a $3.2 million signing bonus for a $1.5 million cap hit in 2023.
Keeanu Benton, who was picked one spot ahead of Reed, has not had his guarantees leaked to the media but did sign a four-year contract worth $7.3 million including a $2.3 million signing bonus. Reed’s contract is projected by Spotrac to be in the range of $7.2 million including a $2.2 million signing bonus for a $1.3 million cap hit in 2023.