Packers To Decline Fifth-Year Option On CB Eric Stokes

A second fifth-year option decision has been made today. Just like the Titans with fellow corner Caleb Farley, the Packers will set Eric Stokes up for free agency next offseason. The latter will have his option declined, per Mike Garafolo of NFL Network.

[RELATED: Fifth-Year Option Tracker]

Stokes was an impactful starter right away upon entering the NFL, logging 14 starts. He recorded 55 stops, 14 pass deflections and one interception that year, showcasing his potential as a long-term mainstay in the Packers’ secondary. Things have not gone according to plan on the injury front since then, however.

The 25-year-old was shut down after nine games in 2022, and in the subsequent offseason he underwent knee and foot surgeries. When healthy near the start of this past season, the Packers’ depth at corner left him outside of the starting lineup. The trade sending Rasul Douglas away at the deadline appeared to open up a first-team role once again for Stokes, but the latter wound up back on injured reserve shortly after returning to action. He finished the campaign on IR for a second time.

In all, Stokes has been limited to just 12 games across the past two years. As such, it comes as little surprise the Packers will pass on his option. Picking it up would have cost a fully-guaranteed $12.47MM in 2025, a pricey figure considering the risk of further missed time. Green Bay also has a lucrative CB commitment on the books in the form of Jaire Alexander, who is under contract through 2026.

Slot man/returner Keisean Nixon is also attached to a $6MM-per-year deal, and the Packers will wait to see how the 2024 season turns out before investing further in Stokes. The Georgia alum will compete with the likes of Corey Ballentine, Robert Rochell and seventh-round rookie Kalen King for defensive snaps in 2024. If he manages to remain healthy, a season similar to that of his rookie campaign could set Stokes up for a strong free agent market and a notable deal from Green Bay or another team. His ability to deliver on that front will be a key storyline for the team this season.

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