Robert Tonyan Jr. and six other veteran players for the Green Bay Packers officially had their contracts void on Monday, February 20, setting the stage for them all to hit free agency next month unless they sign extensions for 2023.
Tonyan re-signed with the Packers last March on a one-year, $3.75 million deal that included a void year in order to help the team manage its salary-cap situation. Green Bay also resorted to a similar restructuring method with several of their other starters, including strong safety Adrian Amos, placekicker Mason Crosby, wide receiver Randall Cobb, tight end Marcedes Lewis and defensive linemen Dean Lowry and Jarran Reed.
Now, the seven of them are scheduled to become unrestricted free agents when the new league year begins on March 15 and will leave behind about $16.39 million in dead cap for the 2023 season — unless they sign new deals with the team for next season.
According to Over the Cap, the dead-cap hits are as follows: Adrian Amos ($7,950,000); Dean Lowry ($3,007,875); Jarren Reed ($1,492,000); Randall Cobb ($1,391,668); Marcedes Lewis ($1,005,000); Mason Crosby ($1,005,000); Robert Tonyan ($500,000).
Tonyan Has Expressed Interest in Staying With the Packers
Of the veterans who had their contracts voided, Tonyan might have the best case for sticking around with the Packers for the 2023 season. The former undrafted free agent caught a career-high 53 passes in 2022 coming off an ACL tear in the previous season, and while his 11-touchdown eruption in 2020 might have been a fluke, he remains a valuable weapon for a Green Bay offense that relies heavily on non-wideouts in the passing game — especially if Aaron Rodgers is under center again next season.
The Packers also don’t have many options in place to replace Tonyan if they allow him to sign elsewhere in free agency. Lewis, their other veteran tight end, also had his contract voided, while Tyler Davis is set to become a restricted free agent in 2023. Even if they believe 2020 third-rounder Josiah Deguara can take a step forward next year, he isn’t going to be able to hold down the room all by himself.
According to Spotrac’s market value calculator, Tonyan is only projected to make about $5 million in average annual salary on his next contract, which is more than the Packers paid to keep him in 2022 but far less than some of the other tight ends on the market. According to Kassidy Hill of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Tonyan also expressed an interest in staying in Green Bay after their 2022 season ended in January.
Which Other Starters Could Packers Re-Sign for 2023?
Tonyan’s value to the Packers offense and projected low cost make him an ideal target to remain in Green Bay for the 2023 season, but he isn’t the only one from the group of voided-contract veterans that makes sense for the team.
Amos is the top name that jumps out on defense. The 29-year-old has been a glue guy for the Packers secondary over his four seasons as their starting strong safety. He gave them the confidence to start 2019 first-rounder Darnell Savage Jr. at free safety on Day 1 and also held things down when cornerbacks Jaire Alexander and Eric Stokes missed time with injuries over the past two seasons. While he does turn 30 in April, there is no clear succession plan for strong safety if Amos walks.
Amos’ dead-cap hit also offers additional incentive to keep him. Rather than pay nearly $8 million for a veteran player who is no longer on the roster, the Packers could extend Amos and actually save money on their books in 2023. Spotrac lists Amos’ calculated market value as $6.8 million in terms of average annual value.
If Rodgers remains the Packers’ starting quarterback for 2023, Lewis and Cobb could also be in play for new contracts. Rodgers is close with both players and could pressure the team to retain at least one of them to avoid losing players he trusts from his arsenal heading into next season. Lewis might be the easiest to keep given his age, but either of them could make sense if they are willing to meet the Packers in the middle on cost.