The Green Bay Packers are having their toughest year of the Matt LaFleur era, and some tough decisions are going to have to be made by the coaching staff and front office in the 2023 offseason.
After a 27-17 loss to the Tennessee Titans on Thursday Night Football, the Packers are now 4-7 with their playoff hopes hanging by a thread. FiveThirtyEight currently gives the Packers just a six percent chance of making the playoffs, and those odds would plummet further with a loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in Week 12.
General manager Brian Gutekunst will have some tough decisions to make in 2023 to make Green Bay a playoff contender once again. Alex Ballantine suggested a few moves the Packers general manager needs to make next offseason, including parting ways with former fourth-round pick Royce Newman.
“Royce Newman has not proved to be one of those positive assets, though,” Ballantine said. “Newman played at right guard this season but has lost his job. Jon Runyan Jr. is now manning the right guard spot…The move would save them less than a million against the cap, but this is about improving the quality of depth on the line.”
LaFleur benched Newman earlier this year, and now there’s a very real chance that the Packers decide to move on from the second-year guard in 2023.
Royce Newman’s Football Career
It hasn’t always been this bad for Newman, and if the Packers were to part ways with him, his experience and background will allow him to quickly be picked up by another team.
Newman was a 4-star recruit coming out of high school in Nashville, Illinois. His offers included several in-state schools along with programs like Nebraska and Iowa State, but Newman decided to go down south to play for the Ole Miss Rebels.
After redshirting his first year and spending a couple of seasons as a reserve lineman, Newman took over as a full-time starter in 2019. During his two seasons as a starter, Newman played both guard and tackle for the Rebels, allowing just three sacks in 846 pass blocking snaps.
The Packers were intrigued by Newman’s positional versatility and level of play in the SEC, taking him with the 142nd overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft. He impressed enough to become a full-time starter, playing in 28 games and starting 22 of them over the last two seasons.
However, Newman has taken a few too many bruises as a starting lineman. According to Pro Football Focus, Newman has allowed 10 sacks and 49 pressures in his first two NFL seasons on just 853 pass-blocking snaps. Cutting him may be harsh, but the Packers will need to find a more reliable starter in 2023 instead of considering starting Newman again.
Can the Packers Keep Elgton Jenkins?
Cutting Newman may sound appealing, but the Packers could be losing a key member of their offensive line to free agency in Elgton Jenkins in 2023.
Jenkins looked like a steal coming out of the 2019 NFL Draft, starting and succeeding at multiple positions on the offensive line. However, a torn ACL prematurely ended his 2021 season, and he hasn’t looked like the same player this season.
The former second-round pick will be a free agent in 2023, and multiple teams will be interested in Jenkins’ versatility. The Packers also have very little cap space in 2023, so unless they can make some drastic moves, it will be difficult to offer Jenkins a competitive contract that would convince him to stay.