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.
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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