Packers Make Final Decision on Billy Turner’s Future

Billy Turner Release

Getty Billy Turner #77 of the Green Bay Packers at AT&T Stadium on October 06, 2019 in Arlington, Texas.

The Green Bay Packers will need to find a new starting right tackle for the 2022 season after choosing to move on from another veteran on Monday.

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst officially released veteran offensive lineman Billy Turner from the roster on March 14 with a failed physical designation.

Turner, 30, has been a valuable and versatile piece for the Packers over the past three seasons, one who has proven he can play at a high level on both the interior and exterior of an offensive line. He brought stability to the right tackle spot following the departure of veteran Bryan Bulaga in 2020 free agency. Aaron Rodgers also dubbed him the “unsung hero” of the offensive line for helping the unit navigate a number of key injuries in 2021.

The Packers, however, have stocked up on young offensive linemen over the past two offseasons and needed to find a way to free up more cap space before the new league year begins on Wednesday. Releasing Turner — who was set to have the team’s ninth-highest cap hit for 2022 — was one of the more obvious routes to creating space; although, he leaves behind a dead-cap hit of roughly $5.8 million.

The move will create about $3.142 million in cap space for the Packers, but independent cap specialist Ken Ingalls pointed out that Turner’s failed physical designation could result in him filing an injury protection claim, which could mean the Packers adding another cap expense of as much as $1.2 million.

The Packers are still about $22 million over the cap for the 2022 season after also releasing Za’Darius Smith, extending Preston Smith and re-signing De’Vondre Campbell on the day. They will need to continue making moves to get under before the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. ET on Wednesday, March 16.

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Packers Could Have Future RT on Roster

When it comes to replacing Turner, the Packers might not need to look very far to find their next right tackle. There are two candidates currently on their roster — Elgton Jenkins and Yosh Nijman — who have each started games at tackle over the past few seasons and fared well enough against the competition to earn some consideration.

Jenkins’ candidacy for right tackle could depend on his health more than anything. He is still rehabbing from an ACL tear he sustained in late November and might not be ready in time for the start of the 2022 season in September. The recovery time for ACL injuries is usually nine months at a minimum, but the Packers know all about the complications after their experience with David Bakhtiari in 2021.

If Jenkins is healthy, moving him to right tackle could be an excellent way for the Packers to maximize his abilities as an offensive lineman. He hasn’t played much more than 30 career snaps on the right side, but he was stunning at left tackle in relief of Bakhtiari and has a diverse enough skillset to thrive wherever he lines up. The Packers will have to decide after next season whether to re-sign Jenkins to a long-term extension, so now could be a good time to find out what he can really give them.

Alternatively, the Packers could give Nijman a shot to win the job. Nijman stepped in as the Packers’ starting left tackle after Jenkins tore his ACL and held up well in the role for the next several weeks of the season. He would have to challenge himself to learn the right side better this offseason, but it isn’t out of the question to think he could claim the starting spot next season.

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