Packers decline fifth-year option for CB Eric Stokes

The Green Bay Packers are not picking up cornerback Eric Stokes’ fifth-year option, according to NFL Network’s Mike Garafolo. The decision does not come as a surprise, as Stokes’ availability has been severely hampered by injuries the past two seasons. 

Had the Packers exercised Stokes’ fifth-year option, he would been owed a guaranteed salary of $12.472 million in 2025.

The 29th overall pick in 2021 had a promising rookie season in which he played 935 defensive snaps (92 percent) over 16 games, including 14 starts. He finished with one interception, a team-high 14 pass breakups, and 55 tackles.

However, Stokes has appeared in just 12 games since. He did not get off to a great start in 2022 before injuring both his knee and foot in a Week 9 loss to the Detroit Lions. Stokes was placed on injured reserve, effectively ending his sophomore campaign. 

In 2023, Stokes began the year on the reserve/physically unable to perform list while he still rehabbed the injury. He returned for Green Bay’s Week 7 matchup against the Denver Broncos but injured his hamstring after just four special teams snaps. Stokes played in just two games the rest of the season before re-injuring his hamstring and going back on IR.

Fortunately, according to Matt LaFleur, Stokes’ hamstring appears to have healed to start the offseason program.

“He’s been full go. He looks great,” LaFleur said following last week’s NFL Draft.

The Packers waited until the seventh round to draft a corner, taking Penn State’s Kalen King. This was a good sign for Stokes and Carrington Valentine, who are expected to battle for the starting corner job next season opposite Jaire Alexander.

Entering the final year of his rookie contract, Stokes can still earn a second contract with Green Bay, but he will have to do without the safety net of a fifth-year option.  

Story originally appeared on Packers Wire