The 2021/22 NFL season was bittersweet for the Green Bay Packers. There was the exceptional regular season that saw the team comfortably win the NFC North after finishing with a 13-4 record; and then there were the play-offs when Green Bay went down 13-10 to the San Francisco 49ers. Seeded first in the conference, it was the Packers’ first loss at Lambeau Field all season.
Green Bay’s regular-season form would suggest that there isn’t all that much to do to turn the team into a Super Bowl-winning unit, although their poor showing in the post-season would suggest otherwise.
Plus, football always comprises moving parts, with free agents, drafts, and trades so if the Packers aren’t looking at ways to improve, then the team risks going backward.
Let’s look at what the Packers need to be serious contenders for the Super Bowl in 2023.
Rodgers commits future
The first and most important requirement has already been settled. There were major doubts about the future of Aaron Rodgers and if the quarterback had left at the end of last season, then it would have been a major setback to Green Bay’s hopes of challenging for the Super Bowl.
However, Rodgers put pen to paper on a new three-year contract worth $150.815 million which aids the Packers in two significant ways. Firstly, Green Bay remains one of the NFL’s finest QBs and ensures its team leader for nearly two decades remains central to its immediate plans. Attempting to replace Rodgers’ leadership qualities and world-class skill would have been an impossible task, at least in the short term.
Secondly, the structuring of the Rodgers deal means Green Bay has been able to dramatically lower its salary-cap figure. The QB will earn almost $42m in 2022 but $40.8m of that comes as a roster bonus (essentially a signing bonus for cap purposes) with just $1.15m as a base salary. That has allowed Green Bay to get within touching distance of its salary cap limit and ensure the team remains competitive Super Bowl contenders.
With his future now resolved, Rodgers can now fully focus on the field. Despite spending his entire career with the Packers, it hasn’t been smooth sailing the past few years, with an off-season boycott in 2020 and claims that the quarterback had become so frustrated at Green Bay that he was threatening to never play for the team again. All of that should now be in the past and having a focused and motivated Rodgers is vital to any Super Bowl ambitions the Packers have.
Once Rodgers was tied down and his future resolved, Green Bay’s top priority should have been to lock down Davante Adams to new terms.
Rodgers may be the leader of the team, but the Packers offense would be significantly weakened without Adams. The wide receiver has proven time and again to be one of the best offensive players in the NFL and his presence in the Packers roster would have made a huge difference to their Super Bowl hopes in 2023.
Instead, after an entire career spent at Green Bay, Adams has hotfooted it over to the Las Vegas Raiders, where he has reunited with former Fresno State teammate and quarterback Derek Carr. Adams has also become the highest-paid receiver in the NFL, penning a five-year contract that could be worth $141.25m.
However, what has been the Raiders gain has most certainly been the Packers loss, although as part of the trade Green Bay has received Las Vegas’ first-round (No 22) and second-round (No 53) picks in next month’s NFL Draft.
How well Green Bay effectively replaces Adams will be one of the keys to their Super Bowl hopes next year.
Making the most of the NFL Draft
With the help of the first- and second-round draft picks claimed from the Raiders as part of the Adams trade, Green Bay is going to be stacked with draft picks this year.
Only one team has more than the Packers’ 11, which includes two free-agent compensatory selections in the fourth and seventh rounds, a seventh-round pick from last year’s trade deal for cornerback Ka’dar Hollman, and two picks in the first round and two in the second.
Green Bay therefore has plenty of draft capital and finds itself with a rare opportunity to acquire several high-quality picks, compared to typical years when the franchise is normally picking towards the bottom of the draft.
Not only is the team’s draft position important to recruit strong players, but also provides the Packers an effective way to get their salary cap problems under control.
Even with the departure of Adams, Green Bay has one of the most top-heavy rosters in the NFL, so the arrival of top rookie talent will help balance the books. You can check here how they position in the early odds for NFL future: https://www.bovada.lv/sports/football/nfl
If Green Bay can use the NFL draft to effectively recruit talent while assist in solving the salary cap issues, then a run to the 2023 Super Bowl could be on the cards.