Packers make offers to retain tight end Robert Tonyan, cornerback Chandon Sullivan
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers hmade a significant move to make sure tight end Robert Tonyan is part of their team in 2021, offering a restricted free agent tender that would require any team that signs him to relinquish a second-round pick, according to a league source.
The one-year, $3.384 million offer also gives the Packers the right to match any offer Tonyan receives once free agency opens Wednesday, but the second-round compensation makes it far less likely he will get one.
The cost of the second-round tender is prohibitive, especially for a team that is roughly $6.5 million over the cap, but Tonyan had a breakout 2020 season in which he caught 52 passes for 586 yards and a league-high-tying 11 touchdowns.
Had the Packers not given Tonyan the second-round tender, there was a decent chance they would have lost him. The Packers would have had the right to match any offer they received if they had submitted the lowest tender offer to Tonyan, but any interested team could have front-loaded an offer to Tonyan that would've stressed the Packers’ already-bloated salary-cap situation.
The Tennessee Titans and Los Angeles Chargers both lost their starting tight ends in free agency and might have been interested in signing Tonyan, and the Jacksonville Jaguars, flush with cap space, might have wanted a pass-catching threat for Trevor Lawrence, the Clemson quarterback they are expected to select with the first pick in the draft.
In addition, the Packers have submitted a restricted free agent tender to cornerback Chandon Sullivan, which is believed to be the lowest possible ($2.133 million) and allows the Packers to match any offer Sullivan receives but does not require a team to compensate the Packers with a draft choice.
NFL Network reported Sullivan’s offer.
The tender offer to Sullivan was not a given, but his return takes a lot of pressure off general manager Brian Gutekunst to find a slot corner for new defensive coordinator Joe Barry’s system. Sullivan played the slot all of last year and could be moved outside, but if the Packers aren’t able to sign or draft a reliable slot, they have Sullivan to play the position.
Sullivan played 71.1% of the defensive snaps last year and was responsible for only two touchdowns allowed during the regular season, was partly responsible for one 40-yard-plus completion and missed eight tackles.
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The Tonyan and Sullivan offers put the Packers more than $10 million over the salary cap heading into Wednesday’s deadline to be under the league limit of $182.5 million.
The Packers are not making an offer to restricted free agent Tyler Lancaster, a source said, which will allow the veteran defensive tackle to test the market. He still could end up re-signing with Green Bay.
The Packers’ signing of running back Aaron Jones along with the two tenders added considerable money to the team’s cap, which means moves to lower their cap number are forthcoming.
The most anticipated is a contract extension for outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith that could cut his cap number down by $10 million or more depending on how it’s structured. The Packers also have the option of turning some of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ salary into a signing bonus so it too is lowered.
Olivia Reiner contributed to this report.