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Packers Reportedly Have Room To Maneuver Under Salary Cap

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Packers Reportedly Have Room To Maneuver Under Salary Cap

Excellent work here from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel's Tom Silverstein, detailing both where the Packers are in relation to the expected $120 million salary cap in 2013 as well as some expected moves the team could/will make to create more room.

Money quotes:

According to a source with access to NFL salary information, the Packers have $113,356,169 dedicated to their '12 salary cap, leaving them roughly $7 million to deal with free agents like TE Jermichael Finley, C Scott Wells, RB Ryan Grant and CB Jarrett Bush.

That's not a bad position to be in given that the Packers have 63 players under contract. Only the top 51 count against the cap, a total which reaches roughly $110.9 million.

But the Packers also have $2,429,818 of so-called "dead" money or salary cap charges left over from players they released or traded after June 1 of last year. That figure vaults their obligation to $113.3 million.

For all those who think the Packers can put a franchise tag on QB Matt Flynn and then trade him, consider that the Packers would have to fit in the $14 million one-year tender by releasing players.

They also would need to have a deal in place with Finley so that he could not walk away an unrestricted free agent. So, to do the Flynn maneuver, they'd have to sign Finley (and the others) AND find a way to clear $10-$14 million off their cap.

It's not going to happen.

Putting the franchise tag on Finley, however, is not a problem. The franchise number for tight ends is expected to drop from $7.3 million in 2011 to about $5.5 million due to the change in how the figure is calculated under the new collective bargaining agreement.

There has been talk that Finley will attempt to qualify as a receiver for franchise tag purposes, but he clearly played the majority of his snaps in-line as a tight end and won't be able to win that argument.

General manager Ted Thompson is not sentimental and he's going to have to knock down WR Donald Driver's $5 million cap number. He may decide to cut him no matter what, but if he doesn't, he'll force Driver to take a major pay cut.

He can also clear $5.7 million by parting ways with LT Chad Clifton. That seems a likelihood after Marshall Newhouse developed into a competent starter over the course of replacing the injured Clifton last year.

Another possibility is gaining $4 million in room of S Nick Collins is forced to retire because of a neck injury. That, however, is cap room Thompson truly doesn't want.

In addition, he could make the bold decision not to pay CB Charles Woodson a $4 million roster bonus due in April, thereby making him a free agent and clearing $11.5 million in cap room. But if he sticks with Woodson, he can still restructure the $4 million bonus so it spreads out over the final three years of his deal, thereby saving him about $2.6 million in cap space.

At a minimum, those three moves would create $10 million and at the most as much as $13 million in cap room, easily enough to keep Finley, Wells and Bush.

In a follow up post, Silverstein breaks down the top 51 players salary-wise heading into 2012, as well as the dead money that will count against the cap.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (21) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

chuck's picture

I'd like to shave off the Bush. Although a great special teams guy, he sucks as a DB. Always going for the pick and either getting it, or giving up a touchdown. I blame him more than any other player for the Hail Mary play. Standing 5 yards away watching the ball being caught.

Jer's picture

How many posts before someone tries to figure out a way to squeeze Mario Williams in there. ;)

It looks like we're in decent shape though. The great thing about Ted is that he'll never let our salary cap situation get out of hand.

CSS's picture

You think they could trade Clay Matthews (create some cap space), move the combination of Zombo, Walden and So'oto to the left side and make cap space for Mario Williams?

jmac34's picture

your insane and yes I know the above comment is a joke. I am just making a general statement

CSS's picture

You know somebody, somewhere, is thinking something along these lines. Don't underestimate the need for some fans to feel relevant through the world of free-agency.

I'm willing to bet over half the leagues fan-base really believe they're only 1 free-agent away from a ring. Hell, Atlanta believed that last year by Signing Ray Edwards and giving away their future for a WR.

POOCH's picture

are you nuts?? Still only have 1 outside l.b.

CSS's picture

Read the posts in order, pretty obvious I'm not serious. (Hint: start above my comment)

Mojo's picture

Regarding Flynn and the franchise tag. Is it possible that the Pack, Flynn and a third-party, let's say Miami get together and put a handshake deal-together without Flynn being franchised.

Here's how it would work; FA Flynn agrees behind the scenes with Miami to a multiyear deal where the Flynns( I mean Fins) agree to give him a fair shot at being the starter (wink, wink). The Fins would probably pay him in the 5 to 10 mill a year range with a sizable portion guaranteed. The Fins also agree to switch first-round picks with the Pack (8th or 9th for the 28th). Miami is willing to do this because of the veiled threat by the Pack to franchise Flynn.

What each party gets:

1. Flynn gets a crack at being a starter, good contract, familiar system and coaches.

2. Miami gets a QB they really like at a reasonable price without having to compete with other teams for his services. Miami still gets a first round choice.

3. GB moves up in the draft from the 28 to 8th or 9th spot and now has a shot at one of the drafts top DE's or pass-rushing LB's. The Pack still has the franchise tag available to put on Finley or anyone else.

Assuming all parties would agree to this (a huge assumption, sure), what would be the flaw in this arraignment?

Guess I'm trying to get around the necessity of franchising Flynn and the cap implications and other risks the Pack take by doing that.

ZeroTolerance's picture

I also think something like this may happen. Flynn was coached very well at GB and I think he is appreciative. I also think he appreciates the opportunity to be showcased in the Detroit game. Why would he not do something for the Packers, if it meant not loosing out big time $$$. This would be a class act, and a plus all-around.

Mojo's picture

And to legitimize this behind the scenes deal, the Pack could throw in a player who is out-of-favor, like Walden, to help ward off criticism from the players union and the NFL as to why the Fish are trading down in the draft for nothing. We in the know would realize what's really going on.

This type of player swapping goes on in the NBA all the time, where the real substance of a trade is often shrouded.

The big hang-up would be Flynn taking himself out of the market. Doubt if his agent would go for that. But Matt might really like the Miami gig. If that were the case this could be a win, win, Flynn scenario for all.

fish/crane's picture

Finley might be able to qualify as a down lineman with those hands. (Just kidding J-Pop, we know you are going to be great.)

ZeroTolerance's picture

So does he.

Rocky70's picture

If TT starts clearing salary cap space with a vigor before free agency begins (March 13th), look for TT to make a move or two. TT's probably on his last contract which ends after the 2015 season. He turns 60 his next b'day. No way is TT going to be satisfied unless GB returns to the SB in his time.

I'm think'in his strategy changes. That change could very well include being more bold in free agency & a more targeted draft philosophy (Can all the project picks & draft for known quality - higher picks - Move on up)

TT's always been outside the box. Now he needs to get outside his own box & finish with a flourish.

GB23's picture

This is all very sad that our own beat writer for the MJS clearly hasn't read the new CBA and does not understand the salary cap. Now he is leading everyone astray as this article/ information spreads across the internet like wildfire.

To say "It's not going to happen." is really just pure ignorance. Please understand I'm not saying it will happen (Flynn being franchised), but to completely discount the possibility is nonsensical.

The following is a break down of the salary cap with HIS numbers.

$113,356,169 - What the Packers currently have committed to the 2012 cap.

Current Salary Cap- $120,375,000

Cap (120,375,000) - Committed (113,356,169)= Cap Space (7,018,831)

Now lets take a look at the 2 players who are both extremely likely to be cut.

Clifton Cap Charge- $5,593,750

Driver Cap Charge- $5,000,000

Total= $10,593,750

If we cut Clifton the MJS reported we would save 5.7 million even though his cap charge from another article posted on the same day is only 5.593, which does indeed make me chuckle. I looked at his contract and it appears as though there wouldn't be any dead cap if he were to be cut.

If we cut Driver it will likely cost us $200,000 in dead cap for 2012.

$10,593,750- $200,000 = $10,393,750

(Current Space) 7,018,831 + (2 Cuts) 10,393,750 = 17,412,581 CAP SPACE

The next order of business that our beloved beat writer decided to ignore was the language and terms of the new CBA. In the years following the 2011 NFL season, teams will have the option of designating three player exemptions at 1.5 million a piece. This essentially pushes the actual cap to $124,875,000 for the 2012 season. The caveat is that if the Packers were to begin the football season with a salary exceeding the $120,375,000 cap the money would need to be "borrowed" from future seasons. With that being said I don't see any reason why the Packers wouldn't be able to in the short term borrow that money, trade Flynn and be well under the $120 million cap before the start of the season.

So if we take 17,412,581 CAP SPACE + 4,500,000 Million in Salary Exemptions we are left with = $21,912,581 that can be utilized to re-sign free agents and franchise Flynn.

There is no reason why we couldn't franchise Flynn, re-sign Finley and re-sign one of the impending DB free agents in Pat Lee/ Jarrett Bush with that amount of money.

This is also before/ without trying to renegotiate the terms of a few contracts players on our team have (those who at this current juncture are being over compensated for their services). To provide a hint look at Woodson's cap charge for 2012 at $11,562,500.00. I'm betting he would be willing to renegotiate the terms of his contract to help his team.

Perhaps someday I could become a writer for the Packers at the MJS. It would be nice to utilize all the currently worthless knowledge I have obtained such as knowing every player on the Packer roster/PS 24/7 or knowing the profiles of almost all the players in the upcoming 2012 draft. Ah well ignorance is bliss for some, even beat writers.

packeraaron's picture

Actually, if you read his actual post, rather than what I just highlighted here (hence the term "money quotes") you'll see he has addressed nearly all of your concerns.

Also, I'd love to hear where you got a look at Clifton's contract.

My lord. Sanctimonious much?

GB23's picture

First things first, I read the original article on MJS and then wanted to see how quickly this "misinformation" (to a certain degree) had spread around the internet. Rotoworld, NFP among many others had regurgitated the information within the hour and then finally I ended up here.

Secondly numerous sources have reported that the salary cap will not increase and remain "flat" for the 2012 NFL season. Why the ambiguity in his article? If he is going to be so specific with cap charges then why not just state the actual NFL salary cap of 120.375 million.

Thirdly for you to say that he addressed my concern is absurd. The reason I commented was to illustrate that A) It is well within our ability to franchise Flynn AND B) The 4.5 million dollars worth of exemption rules outlined in the CBA.

Please tell me where he addressed either one of those topics directly in the article? You can't find it because he failed to do so.

If you had read my post instead of skimmed through it you would have noticed the only reason I reiterated the moves to cut Clifton/Driver was to provide a statistical analysis/ battle plan as to how the Packers could free up the money to franchise Flynn. I had nothing negative to say against the author regarding parts A (cuts) and C (renegotiation) they were merely examples. If you reread it I actually feel I did a very good job separating the passages of displeasure from the active problem solving ones.

Yes I did cut into him about part B (regarding salary exemptions), but it would be a fair assessment to say that he should be knowledgeable/ do the research before he publishes an article on that topic (per his job description).

If you continue to disregard logic and hold bias over fact (that he is indeed at least partially wrong in his cap analysis) then this post is just as worthless to you as the first one.

Lastly I would like to state that neither you nor the MJS writer were aware of the 4.5 million salary exemptions until I brought them to your attention. Rather than attack me perhaps you could thank me for bringing that to your attention.

Your Welcome.

Mojo's picture

If what you say is true GB23, then I see the chances of Flynn getting franchised going from not likely to probable. Not certain, but I have a feeling there is a lot of legitimate interest from a number of teams in acquiring Flynn. The big risk to the Pack would be if they do franchise Flynn and a deal falls through. Unless it's airtight that's not a chance I would be willing to take. Plus they'd lose the opportunity to franchise Finley.

GB23's picture

It is indeed true. Another thing that needs to be investigated is the "Carry Over" clause located in the 300+ page 2011 NFL CBA document. It enables a club to "carry over" unused salary cap space from one league year to another league year. A notice must be submitted by the owner (I'm assuming Mark Murphy in regards to the Packers) no later than 14 days prior to the start of the New League Year clarifying the maximum amount amount of cap space the club wishes to carry over.

Yet another potential option that Silverstein failed to discuss in regards to creating more cap space.

It was reported on November 20th that the Packers had 6.2 million in cap room and off the top of my head the only players I believe they added to the active roster since then were Harrell and Herbie "The Lovebug" Taylor. Since we failed to extend Finley or Wells we completed the 2011 season with available cap space.

To Mr. Nagler I apologize for creating any level of friction. I did not mean to upset you, but I was incredibly frustrated with the lack of creativity and overall content of that specific article. We are all here because we bleed green and gold and the ultimate goal should be to help and enlighten one another.

packeraaron's picture

Apologies to you as well. I was probably a bit overly glib with my reply.

I just take issue with someone being so dismissive and belittling when it comes to Tom Silverstien's work, one of the best and most respected guys on the Packers beat. Of course there are tons of minutia that can be combed through when it comes to the salary cap, but even Andrew Brandt, someone who I think we'd all agree knows more about this than anyone here, doesn't go to that level when writing about the cap.

Tom's post was a great overview of where the Packers' are. His job is to inform on a general level and I think he did a great job doing just that. I have no problem with you or anyone bringing new/other info into the mix, but the level of disrespect shown to Tom was a bit much for me. Again, sorry to bite your head off.

owner's picture

Great points GB23, I was also aware of borrowing against future years cap space as a couple of teams had to do it this year. But you failed to answer Aarons question about Cliffys contract. And Nagler where is your rebuttle? Sorry, but he just blew you and Silverstein out of the water.... Fun stuff

SilkRoadScott's picture

Nobody puts Nagler in the corner!

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