Packers Fans Reject Proposed Trade Dealing Starting O-Lineman

Matt LaFleur, Packers

Getty Head coach Matt LaFleur of the Green Bay Packers watches action during an OTA practice session in May 2023.

The Cheeseheads have spoken on a trade pitch that would ship a popular lineman out of town, though that doesn’t mean the Green Bay Packers are going to listen.

Justis Mosqueda of SB Nation’s Acme Packing Co. floated the idea of the franchise potentially trading starting right tackle Yosuah Nijman if he happens to get beat out for that spot by second-year up-and-comer Zach Tom who saw some run at the position during minicamp.

“Tom … played well in five starts as a fourth-round rookie last season,” Mosqueda wrote on Thursday, June 22. “Tom hasn’t been able to crack the ‘starting’ lineup at right guard or center, the two other positions where he’s been practicing at so far this offseason.”

Green Bay is limited in the moves it can make ahead of September to free up more salary cap space. The franchise had around $16.5 million in cap room remaining for 2023 as of June 25.

“If Tom does end up winning the starting right tackle job, what do you do with Nijman who signed a $4.3 million second-round tender as a restricted free agent this spring?” Mosqueda continued. “Moving Nijman’s contract would give the Packers some much-needed cap relief, as it wouldn’t create any dead cap on the team’s books.”

Mosqueda offered the pitch up as the subject of a fan poll, asking for input on whether the move is something Packers Nation at large would support. The results came back an overwhelming “NO,” as just 26% of those who cast ballots got behind the notion of trading Nijman should he fall out of the starting lineup.

Yosh Nijman Offers Packers Insurance Against Further Injury to David Bakhtiari

GettyOffensive lineman Yosh Nijman of the Green Bay Packers will be an important piece in 2023, even if he doesn’t start in Week 1.

One of the stronger arguments against dealing Nijman, even if Tom steals his job, is that offensive line depth is going to be particularly important for the Packers this year.

Five-time All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari hasn’t played a full season since 2019 and will turn 32 years old early in the upcoming campaign. Any injury to Bakhtiari in 2023 is likely to prove catastrophic to Green Bay’s postseason chances, with first-year starter Jordan Love leading one of the youngest groups of offensive skill position players in the entire league. Keeping at least one bonafide starting-caliber lineman in reserve is an insurance policy that feels better than well-bought at $4.3 million.

If Nijman does win the starting job at right tackle in training camp, then the question is rendered null and void, as the Packers aren’t going to deal their starter in what is probably the second-most important position on the offensive line — especially when the ratio of how much Nijman is being paid to how much value he’s providing on Sundays leans so favorably in the team’s direction in that scenario.

Packers Will Struggle to Sign Yosh Nijman to Long-Term Deal Next Offseason

Nijman ERFA Signing

GettyOffensive lineman Yosh Nijman (right) of the Green Bay Packers blocks defensive lineman Sheldon Day (left) of the Cleveland Browns during an NFL game in December 2021.

The strongest argument for Green Bay dealing Nijman is something that Mosqueda hit on when he published the poll results Sunday.

Keeping Nijman this season, even as a backup, is the better decision in the immediate. However, he’s a reasonably valuable asset who could walk out the door as an unrestricted free agent next March, and there may be nothing the Packers can do about it.

“Nijman is good insurance for the Packers at a premium position … but I’m unsure if the team will be able to extend him to a long-term contract with their 2024 cap situation,” Mosqueda wrote. “If the team has any doubt about left tackle David Bakhtiari’s health, though, I would also understand wanting to keep Nijman in the mix.”

David DeChant of The Athletic suggested on April 6 that Nijman could earn upwards of $20 million annually on his next contract, which would make it exceedingly difficult for Green Bay to retain him.

“Nijman is far from a household name, but he’s played left tackle (782 snaps) and right tackle (528) since 2020 at an above-average level. Those guys get paid, and paid big,” DeChant wrote. “He’s been best on the left, allowing three sacks and a 2.94 percent pressure rate, compared to five [sacks] and 4.36 [percent rate], respectively, on the right. … He could push for $17 million or more annually on his next deal.”


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