Packers Could Trade ‘Integral’ OT to AFC for Picks, Says Analyst

Yosh Nijman Steelers Trade Rumors

Getty The Packers could find value in trading one of his Jordan Love's starting tackles.

The Green Bay Packers are heading into unfamiliar waters for the 2023 season with a new quarterback under center for the first time in 15 years, and at least one analyst believes that could present them with an opportunity to start recouping value for the 2024 offseason in case Jordan Love’s first season falls short.

While examining “shocking” trade ideas for the Pittsburgh Steelers recently, Bleacher Report’s Joe Tansey suggested the Steelers could call the Packers about the availability of “integral” right tackle Yosh Nijman as he enters the final year of his contract in 2023.

Nijman is one of the latest in a long line of great offensive line finds for the Packers, having initially signed as an undrafted rookie in 2019 and making the active roster coming out of 2020 training camp. Since then, the 27-year-old Nijman has started 21 games for the Packers across both tackle spots, most recently spending the final 11 games of 2022 as their starting right tackle opposite All-Pro David Bakhtiari.

“A Nijman trade would shock the Green Bay fanbase because it would significantly weaken a unit led by an unproven signal-caller,” Tansey wrote on May 24. “There is no guarantee of any success in Green Bay, and that could be the risk the Packers take if they want to recoup a draft pick or two for Nijman on the trade market.”

Back in March, Nate Tice suggested on ‘The Athletic Football Show’ that it would be a “no-brainer” for a tackle-needy team to offer a second-round selection to the Packers for Nijman. If they believe a similar return is still possible, it could be worth making a trade and passing the tackle torch to 2022 fourth-round pick Zach Tom instead.

Packers Must Consider Yosh Nijman’s Long-Term Fit

Nijman Steelers Trade

GettyYosh Nijman will be a free agent in 2024 for the Packers.

Nijman is a valuable player capable of playing either tackle spot who received his career-best pass-blocking grade (74.4) from Pro Football Focus in 2022, but there are legitimate questions the Packers need to ask themselves about his long-term value.

The Packers placed a second-round restricted free agent tender on Nijman for the 2023 offseason, ensuring they would either retain him on a one-year, $4.304 million contract (per Over the Cap) or receive a second-round pick as compensation for losing him. With nobody submitting a qualifying offer for him, Green Bay was able to lock him into place as its starting right tackle for 2023 at an affordable rate, but it won’t be able to count on that option in 2024 — especially if Nijman takes another step forward this year.

The Packers are projected to have roughly $23.7 million in cap space for 2024 and have a big decision to consider with Bakhtiari, who is set to see his cap hit balloon to $40.58 million that will force the team to either cut, trade or extend him. If they decided that Bakhtiari is worth keeping, it will be much harder to give Nijman a new contract.

There is also no guarantee that Nijman will succeed at right tackle in 2023. A majority of the sacks (all five) and pressures (23 of 28) he allowed in 2022 came after he took over as a settled starter on the right side. He also committed twice as many penalties (10) as any other player on the Packers’ offensive line last season, an issue that will be harder for a new signal-caller in Love to overcome if it repeats itself in 2023.

Perhaps the Packers have faith in Nijman to limit his mistakes in 2023 and continue his development. But if the front office is already leaning toward moving on from him next offseason, the Packers could avoid the risk of playing the compensatory-pick game and deal him away while his value is still high, stacking assets for 2024 in the process.

Does Packers’ Lack of Tackle Depth Rule Out Trade?

Yosh Nijman Steelers Trade2

GettyThe Packers lack offensive tackle depth behind David Bakhtiari and Yosh Nijman for 2023.

The Packers could find compelling reasons to move Nijman to another squad if general manager Brian Gutekunst has clarity about his future (i.e. knows that he does not intend to re-sign him beyond 2023), but there is also one major reason why they might not want to trade him even if he isn’t in the future plans: tackle depth.

Right now, the Packers are counting on Bakhtiari and Nijman to be their starting tackles in 2023 and only really have Tom as an alternative if one of them is not available at any point during the season. Sure, Elgton Jenkins is also back on a new contract extension that keeps him tied to the team through the 2026 season, but the money they paid him suggests they would like to keep him at his original position at left guard. In all likelihood, Jenkins moving back to tackle would be an emergency option only.

Otherwise, the Packers have essentially no other viable options to replace Nijman if they opted to trade him. Rasheed Walker, a 2022 seventh-rounder, is likely the next-best option behind Tom, but he played zero offensive snaps as a rookie and was a healthy scratch for the majority of last season. They also have Luke Tenuta — a 2022 sixth-rounder for Buffalo — and a few recently undrafted guys (Caleb Jones, Jean Delance and Kadeem Telfort), none of whom are proven at the NFL level.

Yes, Nijman represents one of the higher-value trade chips in the Packers’ possession, but it would seem counterproductive to Love’s development if they traded Nijman and left the work to Bakhtiari and Tom alone. And while they could sign a veteran to cover the loss, it would make far more sense to keep Nijman than pay more for a replacement.

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