Packers pay up to keep from losing injured free-agent tight end Robert Tonyan

Tom Silverstein
Packers News
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Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan (85) celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the third quarter against the Washington Football Team, Sunday, Oct. 24, 2021, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wis. Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin

GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers found out signing a player who is coming off an ACL injury can be a little tougher when his name is Robert Tonyan.

Despite Tonyan being likely to miss at least the first six weeks of the 2022 season, there were three other teams who were interested in signing him and the competition drove the price up.

According to a source, Tonyan will make $3.75 million this year even though he might not play more than eight or so games and will be able to make another $1.75 million in incentives. Essentially, the Packers will be paying him for a half a season on the field.

Tonyan was sorely missed after tearing his ACL Oct. 29 in Arizona. He had just 18 catches for 204 yards and two touchdowns, but early in the year he was used a lot as a blocker to help young left tackle Yosh Nijman.

He appeared on his way to a big game against the Cardinals, but at the end of a 33-yard catch-and-run he landed awkwardly and injured his knee. He underwent surgery in November and could be back six to eight games into the season based on a 10- to 12-month expected recovery period.

Tonyan was coming off a season in which he caught 52 passes for 586 yards and 11 touchdowns and would have been a hot commodity on the free-agent market if not injured. But enough teams were willing to take a gamble and invest in him for this season knowing he would be rehabbing all through the offseason and training camp.

Packers tight end Robert Tonyan grabs his knee after suffering a torn ACL last October in Arizona.

“Through his approach and dedication he developed into an important part of our offense and we are confident he will come back stronger from his injury (ACL) because of the person he is and how hard he works,” general manager Brian Gutekunst said in a statement.

The Packers need as many pass catchers as they can get after trading receiver Davante Adams to the Las Vegas Raiders and Tonyan is the only legitimate one they have at tight end. Third-year pro Josiah Deguara caught just 25 passes for 245 yards and two touchdowns but might be more effective a second year removed from tearing his ACL.

Veteran Marcedes Lewis remains on the roster but he is mostly a blocker and his status for the season remains up in the air. Dominique Dafney hasn’t shown much as a receiver, either.

The Packers announced Tonyan's and cornerback Rasul Douglas’ contracts. Terms of Douglas’ deal were not available but reports said it was $21 million for three years.

“In a short period of time, Rasul made a huge impact on the Packers with his professionalism and on-field performance,” Gutekunst said. “We are excited that he is returning to Green Bay and look forward to his contributions to the team both on the field and in the locker room.”

Davante Adams' contract numbers revealed

The final numbers are in on the Adams' deal with the Raiders.

According to a source with access to NFL salary data, the deal is five years in length and has a total value of $141 million.

It includes $22.75 million fully guaranteed, including a signing bonus of $19.25 million. There is another $22.9 million in base salaries guaranteed against injury and a $20 million roster bonus guaranteed for skill and injury. The roster bonus becomes full guaranteed next March and the base salaries become fully guaranteed in March of 2023 and ’24 if Adams is still on the team.

More: Packers re-signing free-agent cornerback Rasul Douglas, tight end Robert Tonyan

More: Davante Adams deal leaves gaping hole, but could be good for big picture

The deal’s yearly average is $28.2 million, but it is effectively a three-year, $22.5 million deal because the final two years feature whopping base salaries of $35.64 million. The Raiders will likely cut Adams or renegotiate the deal after the third year.

The Packers, a source said, offered Adams a deal around $23 million over the first three years last summer and $25 million over the first three years right before the offseason, but it is not known whether it offered Adams the chance to make more than $60 million in guaranteed money.

Packers could be facing Za’Darius Smith twice a year

A little more than a week after cutting outside linebacker Za’Darius Smith, the Packers face the prospect of playing him twice next season.

Smith had agreed to a five-year, $35 million deal with the Baltimore Ravens but inexplicably pulled out of it and decided to continue testing the market. On Monday, he visited the Minnesota Vikings, who put his name up on a video board outside the stadium welcoming him.

 No deal had been announced as of Monday evening.

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