When the Green Bay Packers placed a $4.3 million second-round tender on their incumbent starting right tackle Yosh Nijman this offseason, it seemed like the right call. Either they were going to retain a starting offensive lineman on a well below market number in the middle of a cap crunch or they were going to receive a premium draft pick back for the loss of Nijman.
No team was willing to part ways with a second-round pick for Nijman, which shouldn’t be a surprise — as no player who has ever been given a second-round tender in the NFL has ever been poached by another squad. Entering practices this year, it seemed like Nijman was going to battle with Zach Tom for the right to be the team’s starting bookend.
What no one could imagine, at the time, was that Tom would run away with the right tackle job while second-year player Rasheed Walker displaced Nijman as the team’s swing tackle — leaving Nijman fourth on the tackle depth chart. That’s been the case recently, as Walker has received opportunities ahead of Nijman in the past two weeks of practice and in last week’s preseason game against the New England Patriots.
With Walker’s arrival, the math has now changed. $4.3 million, all of which is in the form of game checks, might be worth it for a quality third tackle who is first off the bench — but if Nijman is two injuries away from seeing the field, can the Packers justify that figure? That’s without taking into account of the fact that left guard Elgton Jenkins is probably Green Bay’s second-best left tackle option.
For perspective, Nijman’s $4.3 million in cash ranks as the fourth-highest payout on the entire offensive side of the ball for the Packers this season. It’s also one of the few ways, beyond extending outside linebacker Rashan Gary, for Green Bay to create any path to extra cap space this season.
The assumption is that the Packers will be spending in free agency next year, as they already rank 20th in cap space league-wide going into 2024, without accounting for potential cap relief in the form of the team moving on from outside linebacker Preston Smith, running back Aaron Jones or left tackle David Bakhtiari and potential restructures to Kenny Clark and cornerback Jaire Alexander. Any significant spending in free agency would offset a compensatory pick the team would receive for Nijman signing elsewhere next offseason as an unrestricted free agent, just another reason to get something back for Nijman via a 2023 trade.
If Green Bay truly believes that Walker is better than Nijman as a swing tackle option, then there’s little benefit to keeping Nijman this year instead of trading him and getting a pick back in return. No one bit on a second-round asking price during the tender window, but maybe something like a fourth-round pick would be more palatable for tackle-needy teams.