Rashan Gary

Packers Aiming To Reduce Aaron Jones’ Cap Number, Not Expected To Re-Sign AJ Dillon

Just more than a year ago, the Packers helped lay the groundwork for a rough running back year. They reached a pay-cut agreement with Aaron Jones, ensuring he would stay for the 2023 season. That pact paid off, with Jones helping drive the team to the divisional round.

GM Brian Gutekunst said earlier this offseason the team planned to retain Jones, who is going into his age-29 season. But the Packers are interested in lowering Jones’ $17MM 2024 cap number. With this being the final year of the talented running back’s contract, such a reduction is a trickier matter.

Packers brass and Jones’ agent met Friday about making the change, per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein. It is unclear how the sides plan to accomplish this goal. Also unclear: how motivated Green Bay is to make the move. An all-or-nothing effort on this front would naturally put Jones’ roster spot in jeopardy. An extension would help here, as going deeper into the void years well would increase dead money associated with the contract-year RB.

Jones accepted a $5MM reduction in exchange for an $8.52MM signing bonus last February. The void years from that adjustment run through 2027. Were Jones to depart as a free agent next year, the Pack would be hit with $6.6MM in dead money. Should Green Bay release the productive back now, a post-June 1 designation would probably be necessary. That would only leave the team with $5.7MM in 2024 dead money, while bringing more than $11MM in cap savings. That said, Jones remains a valuable piece and the only veteran presence among the team’s skill-position corps.

A four-year Packer contributor, AJ Dillon is on track for free agency. The between-the-tackles bulldozer is not expected to be re-signed, Silverstein adds. Although Jones battled hamstring and knee injuries in 2023, he returned and ripped off a borderline-dominant stretch to help the Packers make a late-season charge that ended with the team putting a scare into the eventual NFC champion 49ers in Round 2. Jones put together for five consecutive 100-plus-yard rushing games to close the season. Dillon did not fare as well in a contract year.

The former second-round pick averaged a career-low 3.4 yards per carry, scoring just two touchdowns. The Packers leaned on their experienced RBs last season, deploying a WR-TE contingent consisting entirely of first- or second-year players. Dillon totaled 1,573 rushing yards and 12 TDs between the 2021 and ’22 seasons, becoming a popular presence in Green Bay despite a limited pass-game skillset.

Jones is one of the game’s best dual-threat backs, and the Packers would certainly miss the former fifth-round pick if he was jettisoned. That said, a host of options will be available to RB-needy teams in free agency. That spells trouble for Dillon, who joins Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, Austin Ekeler, Derrick Henry, Tony Pollard, D’Andre Swift and Gus Edwards as notable backs set to hit the market. The Bengals may add Joe Mixon to this list soon as well. This would help the team with Jones, who is due an $11.1MM base salary next season. Though, it is unclear if the Packers are planning another pay-cut ultimatum.

The Packers recently created some cap space by restructuring the contracts of Preston Smith and Rashan Gary, per ESPN.com’s Field Yates and NFL.com’s Tom Pelissero. The moves created more than $7MM in cap space together. Green Bay, which is also likely to release David Bakhtiari, currently holds just more than $14MM in cap room.

NFC North Notes: Lions, Bears, Poles, Gary

Graham Glasgow became a cap casualty this offseason, seeing the now-Sean Payton-run Broncos dump his four-year, $44MM contract. The veteran interior lineman had taken a pay cut in 2022, after losing his job (to Quinn Meinerz) following an injury absence. Glasgow returned to the Lions, who had drafted him in 2016, on a one-year deal worth $2.75MM deal. Given backup money, Glasgow indeed began the season as a utility man. But the Lions have needed to use the eighth-year veteran at three positions this season, with injuries sidelining Jonah Jackson, Frank Ragnow and Halapoulivaati Vaitai. Glasgow has done enough to remain a starter when the unit is at full strength, Dan Campbell said (via the Detroit Free Press’ Dave Birkett).

Glasgow, 30, has started the past six games and done so at left guard, right guard and center. Moving forward, Glasgow will be Detroit’s RG starter. Vaitai won that job out of training camp but needed time off after an early-season injury. While Vaitai is back after knee and back maladies, the 2020 free agency pickup has not showed top form upon returning. Pro Football Focus grades Glasgow as the No. 5 overall guard. The former third-round pick now has the opportunity to use this season to fetch a nice contract in free agency once again, though the Lions could also have interest in retaining him. The team removed a year from Vaitai’s contract, amid a pay cut that followed his missed 2022, and has Jackson in a contract year. The Lions have some questions at guard moving forward.

Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • Although the Bears have since extended Montez Sweat, executives took issue with GM Ryan Poles‘ pre-deadline strategy. One anonymous GM said (via the Washington Post’s Jason La Canfora) the move of indicating Jaylon Johnson was available barely 12 hours before the deadline did not give teams enough time to gauge his trade value, assess the player’s future or negotiate a contract. A report indicating the Bears would let Johnson’s camp seek a trade — after Bears extension talks were not progressing — came out just after midnight CT on Oct. 31. The Bears ended up keeping Johnson, and Poles has said the team wants to keep the contract-year cornerback. No team has franchise-tagged a corner since the Rams cuffed Trumaine Johnson in 2017, but Chicago does have the tag available with Sweat signed days after that trade.
  • The Bears obtained Sweat from the Commanders for a second-round pick. The above-referenced GM said the Falcons were on track to land Sweat for a third-round pick before Poles put the Bears’ second-rounder on the table. Atlanta is believed to have increased its offer twice in response. Another anonymous GM told La Canfora the Bears should have been selling at the deadline. While execs did not agree with the Bears giving up a pick likely to land in the 30s for Sweat, the team proceeded this way for Chase Claypool last year and now has an upper-echelon edge defender signed long term.
  • Weeks after seeing DC Alan Williams step away, the Bears fired running backs coach David Walker, per The Athletic’s Kevin Fishbain and Adam Jahns. Workplace behavior led to Walker’s dismissal, ESPN.com’s Courtney Cronin adds. The Bears’ HR department had previously disciplined Walker, according to Cronin, with the second infraction leading to the firing. Matt Eberflus hired Walker, 53, last year. HR was also involved in Williams’ exit; the two matters are unrelated. Omar Young is now coaching Chicago’s RBs.
  • Rashan Gary‘s four-year, $96MM Packers extension calls for a $34.6MM signing bonus, which represents the fifth-year outside linebacker’s guarantee. Additionally, Gary will collect a $6.2MM roster bonus on Day 3 of the 2024 league year, according to OverTheCap. On Day 3 of the 2025 league year, Gary will earn an $8.7MM roster bonus.
  • The Lions bumped linebacker Trevor Nowaske up to their active roster due to another team’s effort to poach him off the practice squad, Campbell said. A rookie UDFA out of Saginaw Valley State (Mich.), Nowaske joined Detroit’s active roster last week.

Packers, Rashan Gary Agree To Extension

While short-term changes to the Packers’ roster could be coming in the next two days, a cornerstone of their defense is set to remain in place for the foreseeable future. Edge rusher Rashan Gary announced on Monday that he has signed a four-year, $96MM extension.

The deal comes as Gary is playing out his fifth-year option to finish off his rookie contract. Taking into account his 2023 salary of $10.89MM, the extension will pay out a total of $107.5MM to the former first-rounder and keep him on the books through 2027. Ian Rapoport of NFL Network reports the contract includes a signing bonus of $34.64MM.

Gary had a slow start to his career with only seven sacks across his first two seasons in the league. The Michigan alum took on a full-time starting role in 2021, however, and his increased workload produced an uptick in his statistical impact. Gary registered 9.5 sacks that year, leading to the Packers’ decision to exercise his option and expectations of a strong follow-up campaign.

However, an ACL tear limited him the 25-year-old to nine games in 2022. Despite showing continued effectiveness prior to the injury, it threatened to hinder Gary’s market for a new deal pending his recovery process. He rehabbed in time to suit up for Week 1, though, and he has yet to miss a contest in 2023. Gary made it clear last month he was open to negotiating a new long-term pact, and efforts on that front have now cemented his status as a key member of Green Bay’s core moving forward.

The $24MM AAV of the extension places Gary fifth in the NFL amongst edge rushers in that department. Nick Bosa‘s historic 49ers deal has set a new high mark at the position, and today’s agreement makes Gary the 10th pass rusher to eclipse the $20MM-per-year mark. He will now sit atop the pecking order (just ahead of left tackle David Bakhtiari and cornerback Jaire Alexander) as Green Bay’s highest-paid player.

Gary has recorded 4.5 of the Packers’ 19 sacks this season, giving him the team lead. Fellow starter Preston Smith has been floated as a trade candidate in the build-up to tomorrow’s deadline, with Gary’s extension on the horizon and first-round rookie Lukas Van Ness in place for years to come. While Smith’s future in Green Bay is yet to be determined, Gary’s is now taken care of for the foreseeable future.

Packers LB Rashan Gary Open To Extension

Packers linebacker Rashan Gary tore his ACL in November, and that ended up delaying whatever chance he had at earning an extension. The former 12th-overall pick is now playing on his fifth-year option, and Gary acknowledged to ESPN’s Rob Demovsky that he’d be open to signing an extension now or after the season.

Gary made his return to the field in Week 1, and while the linebacker is certainly aware of his impending free agency, he’s more focused on regaining his old form.

“I’ve just been going through my rehab process and just trying to get back and focus on me,” said Gary

Gary remains on a pitch count for the Packers. He was limited to only 12 defensive snaps in Week 1, but he was still plenty productive; ESPN Stats & Information listed Gary with three pressures on seven pass-rush attempts. Demovsky writes that Gary should see an increase in snaps tomorrow against the Falcons, but the linebacker will continue to be on a pitch count.

“I felt I could’ve seen a lot of things just a little quicker,” Gary said of his season debut. “But for my first game back in live action, what I needed to feel, what I needed to see, I felt like I did.”

It took a few seasons for Gary to justify his draft investment, but he broke out in 2021 when he finished with 9.5 sacks and 28 QB hits. He looked like he was taking another step forward in 2022, collecting six sacks in nine games. Then the linebacker suffered a torn ACL in November, and instead of earning a big-money deal, he’ll be playing the 2023 campaign on a $10.89MM salary.

Gary probably has a long way to go to catch up to Nick Bosa‘s record-breaking $170MM deal with the 49ers, but the Packers defender could be in line for a significant pay day next offseason if he’s productive in 2023.

NFC North Notes: Packers, Lions, Hockenson

Rashan Gary is all set to debut in Week 1, completing his recovery from the ACL tear that ended his 2022 season in November. But the Packers will begin their top pass rusher on a pitch count to start the season, Matt LaFleur confirmed (via Packers Wire’s Zach Kruse). This could open the door for early-season Lukas Van Ness development. The Packers still roster Preston Smith, who is going into his fifth season with the team, and Van Ness contributed as an inside and outside rusher at Iowa. The team has versatile linebacker Justin Hollins and 2022 fifth-rounder Kingsley Enagbare, who became a primary starter after Gary went down last season, as options while Gary ramps up to a full workload.

Additionally on the Green Bay injury front, David Bakhtiari, Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs are viewed as game-time decisions for Sunday’s opener against the Bears. Bakhtiari, who has seen knee trouble sidetrack his career to a degree over the past two-plus years, is listed on the injury report with more knee trouble. He expects to play, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s Tom Silverstein tweets. Both starting receivers are battling hamstring maladies and have not practiced this week. Here is the latest from the NFC North:

  • As for tonight’s game, the Lions ruled out cornerback Emmanuel Moseley. Although Detroit activated Moseley off its active/PUP list before roster-cutdown day, the free agency addition underwent a second knee procedure this summer and was viewed as a long shot to start the year on time. Moseley is finishing up a recovery from an October 2022 ACL tear.
  • Isaiah Buggs started 13 games at nose tackle for last season’s Lions edition, but the veteran was informed in advance he would be a healthy scratch tonight, the Detroit News’ Justin Rogers notes. The Lions gave Buggs a two-year, $4.5MM deal in March but gave more snaps to rookie Brodric Martin and Benito Jones during camp. Buggs believes his lack of offseason attendance affected the team’s decision, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. The former Steelers contributor said his wife giving birth led to him staying away during OTAs. Jones and Alim McNeill are expected to start in Kansas City, Birkett adds.
  • Going into free agency, the Bears did extensive work on Dre’Mont Jones, Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune notes. Although the Bears carried plenty of cap space into free agency, they chose to stand down on Jones and spend for the likes of Tremaine Edmunds, Nate Davis, T.J. Edwards and DeMarcus Walker. The team later addressed its D-tackle needs in the draft, choosing three — Zacch Pickens (Round 2), Gervon Dexter (Round 3) and Travis Bell (Round 7) — on Day 2. This duo should be expected to play bigger roles down the line, but in Week 1, Justin Jones and Andrew Billings are slated to start. A four-year Broncos regular, Jones ended up with the Seahawks on a three-year, $51MM deal.
  • T.J. Hockenson‘s four-year, $66MM Vikings extension comes with $29.29MM fully guaranteed, according to OverTheCap. That number checks in fourth among tight ends — behind Kyle Pitts‘ rookie deal and the extensions for Mark Andrews and George Kittle. Hockenson’s 2024 base salary is fully guaranteed. His $10.9MM 2025 base salary is guaranteed for injury at signing, per Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio, who notes that number shifts to a full guarantee a year early (March 2024). The Vikings did not use the year-out guarantee structure for Hockenson’s 2026 setup, giving them more flexibility. Hockenson has $2.3MM of his 2026 base ($15.4MM) guaranteed for injury; it does not shift to a full guarantee until March 2026, giving the Vikings additional flexibility. Hockenson’s cap number will climb from $5MM this year to $14.1MM in 2024, Ben Goessling of the Minneapolis Star Tribune tweets.

Injury Notes: Achane, Gary, Howard

Dolphins rookie running back De’Von Achane avoided a serious injury. After getting carted to the locker room during Saturday’s preseason game against the Texans, Archane has been diagnosed with a shoulder injury and is considered “week-to-week” (per ESPN’s Marcel Louis-Jacques).

The RB suffered the injury when a Texans defensive lineman fell on him during the third quarter of the exhibition. Archane was able to return to the sideline under his own power, but he was later carted to the locker room. Fortunately, it sounds like the rookie’s injury wasn’t all that serious, although it’s uncertain if he’ll be on the field for Week 1.

The Dolphins drafted the Texas A&M product in the third round of this year’s draft. The Dolphins still have both Raheem Mostert and Jeff Wilson Jr. in the backfield, but the rookie was expected to play a role alongside the two vets. If Archane is forced to miss regular season time, that could open a spot for holdovers Salvon Ahmed and Myles Gaskin. The Dolphins are also rostering UDFA Chris Brooks.

More injury notes from around the NFL…

  • After tearing his ACL last November, Packers linebacker Rashan Gary participated in his first team drills on Tuesday. As Pete Dougherty of the Green Bay Press-Gazette writes, the pass rusher didn’t show any signs of rust, which only provides optimism regarding his availability for Week 1. Of course, it’s no guarantee that Gary will be ready to go for the season opener, with the player revealing that he’s got “a couple more boxes to check off” before he’s cleared.
  • Tytus Howard underwent hand surgery earlier this month, putting his status for Week 1 in doubt. However, the Texans offensive tackle is making “steady progress” in his recovery and hasn’t been ruled out for the start of the regular season, per Aaron Wilson of KPRC2 in Houston (via Twitter). Howard was given a recovery time of four to six weeks, so a Week 1 return isn’t overly optimistic.
  • Patriots wide receiver Tyquan Thornton landed hard on his shoulder during practice last Thursday and is considered “week-to-week,” per Christopher Price of the Boston Globe (on Twitter). The 2022 second-round pick showed flashes of his potential during his rookie campaign, finishing the season with 263 yards from scrimmage and three touchdowns. Thornton could find himself buried on the depth chart behind Devante Parker, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and Kendrick Bourne in 2023.
  • Broncos wideout Jalen Virgil suffered an injury during his 50-yard catch on Saturday. While he’ll need knee surgery to repair his meniscus, Mike Klis of 9News in Denver reports (via Twitter) that the receiver’s ACL is intact. Unfortunately, Virgil’s comeback probably won’t take place until the 2024 campaign, as he was placed on injured reserve today. The former UDFA won’t be eligible to play for the Broncos this season, but he could play for another team if he’s granted his release.

Packers’ Rashan Gary Returns To Practice

Rashan Gary needed to wait longer than most first-round pass rushers to become a regular starter. The Packers chose the Michigan product a month after signing both Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith in free agency in 2019. Gary started all of four games over his first two seasons.

Za’Darius Smith’s back injury shelving him in September 2021 opened the door to a regular role, and Gary made the most of the opportunity by becoming the Packers’ top edge rusher that season. After Gary carried that momentum into 2022, a November ACL tear blunted it. Gary, however, took a big step toward returning on time for this season.

The fifth-year edge defender returned to practice Monday, moving off the Packers’ active/PUP list. If Gary ends up needing more time in an effort to come back from the severe knee injury, the Packers no longer have the option of stashing him on the reserve/PUP list to start the year. Green Bay would only have an IR option; like the reserve/PUP list, that designation would cost Gary four games. As of Monday, however, it is more likely than not Gary begins the season on time.

Gary broke through for 9.5 sacks and 28 quarterback hits in 2021, helping the Packers secure their second straight No. 1 seed despite a wave of injuries depleting their depth chart. The team then made Za’Darius Smith a cap casualty in March 2022. Gary and Preston Smith remain the Packer anchors on the edge, though first-round pick Lukas Van Ness — who excelled as an off-the-bench inside and outside rusher at Iowa — is now in the picture.

Gary’s return will give the Packers flexibility with Van Ness, whose path could be similar to that of Gary’s. That said, Green Bay would only incur a $4MM dead-money charge by designating Preston Smith a post-June 1 cut in 2024. For now, the team will have an intriguing set of pass rushers entering its first post-Aaron Rodgers season.

Eric Stokes, who was lost for the season during the same Week 9 game in which Gary went down, remains on Green Bay’s active/PUP list. The third-year cornerback can be activated at any point during training camp. Stokes is coming off knee and foot surgeries.

Minor NFL Transactions: 7/21/23

Here are today’s minor transactions from around the league as teams prepare their rosters for training camp:

Baltimore Ravens

Cleveland Browns

Denver Broncos

Green Bay Packers

Jacksonville Jaguars

Las Vegas Raiders

New England Patriots

New York Jets

Washington Commanders


There are some big names in Baltimore that won’t be healthy to open camp. Two offensive youngsters who can’t seem to stay on the field, Dobbins and Bateman, continue to struggle to get healthy. Bateman sat out most of the spring after receiving a cortisone shot in hopes it would help get him back in time for camp. While he didn’t report, general manager Eric DeCosta expects him back soon, according to the team’s editorial director Ryan Mink. Dobbins has started thinking about his second contract this summer, and getting healthy will be key to gaining any leverage in negotiations. Ricard is no surprise, as head coach John Harbaugh predicted this placement a month ago. Bowser, though, experienced an unexpected flare up in his knee this spring after missing eight games last season.

In Cleveland, Goodwin experienced a medical scare recently when discomfort in his legs and shortness of breath turned out to be blood clots in his legs and lungs, according to James Palmer of NFL Network. He will miss the start of training camp as the clots are addressed.

In Denver, a kicking competition appears to be in the cards. The team held a workout for Maher, Elliott Fry, and Parker White back in May and ended up signing Fry. Now, with Maher joining the team, and the exit of Brandon McManus, the position battle between Maher and Fry will continue.

In Wisconsin, Gary and Stokes each ended their season after Week 9 of last year due to long-term injuries. Both will continue slowly working their way back in order to play big roles on defense.

In Vegas, Wilson, this year’s seventh overall pick, will have to be patient in finding his way to the field for his rookie year. He was expected to be cleared for training camp after ending his college career with a Lisfranc injury, but he’ll have to wait just a bit longer. The Raiders are counting on him to relieve some of the defensive responsibilities of Chandler Jones and Maxx Crosby.

Minor NFL Transactions: 11/9/22

Here are Wednesday’s minor moves:

Arizona Cardinals

Chicago Bears

Dallas Cowboys

Detroit Lions

Green Bay Packers

Indianapolis Colts

Las Vegas Raiders

Los Angeles Chargers

Minnesota Vikings

San Francisco 49ers

Adams, Dulin, Ellefson, Galeai, Washington and Willis each have until Nov. 30 to be activated from IR. Should they not be activated, they would revert to season-ending IR. The Colts and Vikings are in solid shape regarding activations, having only used one apiece. The Bears, Cardinals, 49ers and Packers have used three such moves apiece. Teams are allotted eight injury activations this season.

The Cowboys dangled Basham in trades before last week’s deadline, but no takers emerged. While the team cut the other D-lineman they were hoping to deal — Trysten Hill, who has since been claimed by the Cardinals — they ended up using one of their injury activations on Basham. A former Colts third-round pick, Basham notched 3.5 sacks during his first Cowboys season last year. He played in one game this season (Week 1) before going down with a quadriceps injury. The Cowboys, who have Tyron Smith and James Washington on their IR-return radar, have used two injury activations this season.

Packers’ Rashan Gary Suffers Torn ACL

The Packers lost their fifth straight game yesterday, but any turnaround of their season will come without one of their top defenders. ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported this morning that edge rusher Rashan Gary was feared to have suffered a torn ACL; Ian Rapoport of NFL Network confirms that that is indeed the case, meaning Gary will miss the remainder of the season (Twitter links). An MRI will be conducted to determine if any further damage has been caused.

Gary was one of several Packers who had to leave Sunday’s contest early, leaving the team with a number of question marks from a health perspective. Gary was seen on crutches after the loss to Detroit, joining cornerback Eric Stokes and wideout Romeo Doubs in that regard (Twitter link via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky).

Green Bay will be hard-pressed to replace Gary, 24, for the remainder of the season. He was in the midst of another productive campaign off the edge, recording 6.0 sacks and seven tackles for loss. That marked a continuation of last season, during which he broke out with 9.5 sacks while taking on a full-time starting role. The former first-rounder drew plenty of scrutiny during his first two campaigns, as he showed only flashes of the athleticism he was renowned for coming out of college.

After things turned around in 2021, however, it came as little surprise when the Packers picked up Gary’s fifth-year option this spring. That move will keep him on the books for 2023 at a cost of just under $10.9MM. Given his play last year, and his continued career ascension until yesterday, the Michigan alum was setting himself up as a prime extension candidate this offseason.

That held especially true since the Packers released Za’Darius Smith in a cost-cutting move in March. The veteran ultimately landed with the division rival Vikings as a high-priced free agent. So far, he has enjoyed another productive season, and he ranks second in the NFL with 8.5 sacks. Gary had filled in for Smith (as he did last season, with the latter sidelined through injury), with fellow veteran Preston Smith chipping in with 3.5 sacks on the campaign.

Now, the Packers will need to regroup defensively with the elder Smith leading the way in terms of pass rushers. Green Bay is also rostering Day 3 draftees Kingsley Enagbare and Jonathan Garvin, along with former UDFA Tipa Galeai as potential Gary replacements.

A mentioned, Green Bay lost a number of key players on both sides of the ball yesterday. Joining Gary, Stokes and Doubs are lead running back Aaron Jones (who was seen in a walking boot, per Demovsky) and rookie wideout Christian Watson, who exited to be evaluated for a concussion after suffering one last week. As crushing as the Gary diagnosis is for the team, then, there could very well be more bad news coming today as the Packers continue reeling.