Packers' Top Players to Consider for Franchise Tag, RFA Contract Tenders

Joe Tansey@JTansey90Featured ColumnistFebruary 17, 2021

Packers' Top Players to Consider for Franchise Tag, RFA Contract Tenders

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    Jeffrey Phelps/Associated Press

    The Green Bay Packers do not typically use the franchise tag. In fact, it has been over a decade since they used it to keep a player in Wisconsin for an extra year. 

    However, there are a few pending free agents they could use it on to maintain the strength of its roster. 

    Aaron Jones is a primary candidate for the franchise tag. The Packers could use it to avoid a massive running back contract while still getting another year out of the 26-year-old. 

    Corey Linsley is another choice that could ensure quarterback Aaron Rodgers has the best possible protection for the 2021 campaign. 

Aaron Jones

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    Matt Ludtke/Associated Press

    Aaron Jones' career production suggests he is in line for a huge free-agent deal. 

    However, the life of a running back in the NFL can sometimes be short-lived, and the UTEP product is 26 with two straight years of 200 carries on his legs. 

    If Green Bay is hesitant about giving Jones an expensive long-term deal, it could employ the franchise tag to give the team a buffer year between him and A.J. Dillon as the primary running back.

    The 22-year-old could be ready to take over the starting role in 2021, but he did not have much time to adapt on the field behind Jones and Jamaal Williams in his rookie year.

    If Green Bay employs a two-back strategy again, it could use Jones and Dillon to complement Aaron Rodgers in its quest to return to the NFC Championship Game. 

    According to Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap, the franchise-tag number for running backs would be just over $8 million with a salary cap of $180.5 million. 

    Although an $8 million price tag would still be hefty, the Packers would avoid paying a larger multi-year deal and would keep Jones around for another season by using the tag. 

Corey Linsley

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    Nam Y. Huh/Associated Press

    Green Bay has been willing to spend big on its protection for Rodgers over the last few years. 

    The Packers have large investments in David Bakhtiari and Billy Turner, who are scheduled to make over $15 million combined in base salary and prorated bonuses in 2021. 

    If the Packers use the franchise tag on Corey Linsley, they would have to cough up an additional $13.6 million, per Fitzgerald.

    Keeping the 29-year-old for another year may be the smart move, with Bakhtiari on the mend following a season-ending knee injury.

    If the Packers combine the experience of Linsley, Turner and a healthy Bakhtiari with Elgton Jenkins, Jon Runyan Jr. and other young offensive linemen, they will provide solid protection for Aaron Rodgers. 

    Linsley's status could be determined by the faith the Packers coaching staff has in the team's young offensive linemen or in its ability to land a top pass protector in the 2021 NFL draft. 

    If the Packers do not feel entirely confident in either, they could call on Linsley for at least another year while developing more depth to deal with a potential departure next offseason.

Robert Tonyan

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    Morry Gash/Associated Press

    The Packers have an easy decision to make when it comes to their top restricted free agent contract tender. 

    Offering at least a one-year qualifying deal to tight end Robert Tonyan should be one of the first offseason moves. 

    Tonyan became a valuable piece of Green Bay's offense in 2020, as he caught 52 balls for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns. 

    Since he turned into the No. 2 target behind Davante Adams, Tonyan should be a candidate for a long-term deal either this summer, or in the near future after that. 

    If Tonyan continues to improve, it is not crazy to think he can have a Travis Kelce-type impact on the Packers offense, especially in the red zone. 

    Green Bay still needs to surround Rodgers with a few more playmakers at wide receiver, but having a one-two punch in Adams and Tonyan is a solid place to start for the reigning NFC North champion.


    Follow Joe on Twitter, @JTansey90.

    Statistics obtained from Pro Football Reference.

    Contract information obtained from Over The Cap.