Getting Under the Salary Cap is Only the Starting Point

As the Green Bay Packers work to get under the salary cap, that is only the starting point, as there are a number of other costs to be factored in. 

The hot topic around the NFL this early offseason is, of course, the salary cap and where it might fall. Without fans in the stands this past year -- or at least very few of them -- the salary cap is expected to plummet for the 2021 season. 
 
In 2020, it was at $198.2 million and had been steadily increasing over the last decade. Right now, there isn't a figure set in stone, but Adam Schefter did report on Thursday that the floor will be $180 million. This is good news because that's up from the previous $175 million amount, and every little bit helps. 
 
Where it will end up exactly, we don't know at this point, and we likely won't know until just before free agency begins. But what we do know at this time is that the Green Bay Packers have some work to do in order to get under wherever the cap may fall. 
 
At Over the Cap, they are projecting that the salary cap for the 2021 season will fall in the $183.79 million range. If that is the case, then the Packers find themselves $19.99 million over the cap, even after restructuring David Bakhtiari's contract. 
 
Now, there are ways for them to get under the salary cap. Most notably would include cutting Preston Smith, Christian Kirksey, and Dean Lowry -- among others potentially -- restructuring Aaron Rodgers' and Za'Darius Smith's contracts, as well as giving Davante Adams a contract extension. Naturally, there are a number of other moves that can also be made, but you get the idea. 
 
However, shedding another $20 million is really just the starting point. Yes, that puts Green Bay under the salary cap, but there are other costs that have to be considered as well. 
 
For starters, the $20 million figure is for the top-51 players on the roster. As we all know, NFL rosters are made up of 53 players. This number also doesn't include paying this year's draft class or the practice squad. 
 
Teams also want to have money available for any in-season spending that might take place. For example, signing players like Damon Harrison and Tavon Austin as the Packers did in 2020. And if Green Bay hopes to make a free-agent addition or two, you know who I'm talking about, they'll obviously need room for those contracts as well. 
 
On top of that, after the season Robert Tonyan had, as a restricted free agent his price tag is going to be higher than what the Packers likely expected it to be as he receives an early round tender or even a contract extension. 
 
You get the idea; like I said, creating an additional $20 million in cap space is just the starting point. 
 
So the big question then is, how much cap space do the Green Bay Packers actually have to create in order to accommodate these additional expenses?
 
Well, we turn to Ken Ingalls for that answer. If you're unfamiliar with Ken, he independently tracks Green Bay's cap situation and is a tremendous resource for anything cap-related.
 
In his most recent calculation, which is under the assumption of a $180 million salary cap, he has the Packers needing to clear $29.4 million before free agency opens on March 17th and $38.7 million by roster cutdowns in September.
Now, with all of that said, this isn't meant to be all doom and gloom. There are moves that the Packers can and will make -- I highlighted a few above -- to get under the salary cap figure, and it doesn't mean that they can't participate in free agency--just keep your expectations tempered. But as GM Brian Gutekunst said recently, this is going to lead to a lot of "tough decisions." 
 
So as the talk of the salary cap continues, when you hear that the Packers are about $20 million or so over the cap, keep in mind that there are also a number of other costs that haven't been baked into that figure.

 

---------------------

Born and raised in Green Bay, WI and I still call it home. After my family, watching the Packers, sharing my opinions on the team through my writing and interacting with other fans is my greatest passion. You can find me on Twitter at @Paul_Bretl. 
 

NFL Categories: 
4 points

Comments (30)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Coldworld's picture

February 19, 2021 at 11:39 am

It’s going to be a mess and right through the summer I expect as teams look to shuffle rosters and add vets looking for homes as well as using June 1 cuts.

This is why I struggle with the idea that we can sign Watt. That would add about a third to the amount needing to be cleared just to allow flexibility needed to manage a roster.

+ REPLY
5 points
6
1
Gee's picture

February 19, 2021 at 01:54 pm

I'm officially off the Watt hype train, with the way things look, I just don't see them having any money for him. Unless he going to take a massive hair cut. Too bad would have be great, I'm just waiting to see who gets cut, to see who they can get to help the DL. Keke make the jump young man!!

+ REPLY
-1 points
1
2
scullyitsme's picture

February 19, 2021 at 12:08 pm

Every year many on this site obsess over the salary cap as if it’s their own money. I’m pretty sure if the time spent focusing on the packers cap was applied to their personal finances it would create a wealth never seen before and it would trickle down( even though we know that doesn’t even work because all the rich greedy buggers at the top just buy bigger yachts( Tom Brady))to all of Wisconsin. We would instantly become the richest state in the union.

+ REPLY
3 points
9
6
Guam's picture

February 19, 2021 at 01:08 pm

And what else would we talk about between the end of the season and the start of free agency?

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
jannes bjornson's picture

February 19, 2021 at 05:39 pm

Ice Fishing

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
Coldworld's picture

February 19, 2021 at 06:19 pm

Actually, I’ve seldom obsessed, if ever, and I don’t particularly remember others doing so in numbers in recent times. Could it be that you weren’t around?

This is a fiction I’ve seen mostly stated by newer posters, or ones I don't remember. The cap hasn’t been too much of an issue in GB for a while.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
stockholder's picture

February 19, 2021 at 10:36 pm

MM hated the Cap and Free Agency. Hated it! The friction with TT, was over losing players.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 19, 2021 at 09:24 pm

It is all my fault.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
CheesyTex's picture

February 19, 2021 at 12:50 pm

Thanks, Paul, for a clear, timely and cogent update on the Packers' cap.

The current front office has been impressive in supplementing the roster which has produced a nice turn-around on the field over the last two years, albeit at the cost of cap space.

Now we'll see whether or not this off-the-field team Mr. Murphy has assembled (including Russ Ball) can win the roster improvement game when they have no cap bullets to fire.

Go Pack!

+ REPLY
-3 points
0
3
Leatherhead's picture

February 19, 2021 at 01:22 pm

My assessment of our cap situation is that we won’t be signing our own premium FAs, we won’t be signing outside FAs like Watt or Peterson, and we might have to release starters on contract just to get under the cap.

+ REPLY
1 points
4
3
Gee's picture

February 19, 2021 at 01:56 pm

I hope you're not right, maybe Ball and Gute can work some magic, and we don't have a poison pill in 2022 onward.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
flackcatcher's picture

February 19, 2021 at 03:19 pm

Which makes this upcoming draft critical for the future of the Packers.

+ REPLY
2 points
3
1
Coldworld's picture

February 19, 2021 at 06:21 pm

I think in part, we have already drafted for Linsley and mostly for Jones. Big problem outstanding is CB.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Spang29's picture

February 20, 2021 at 12:09 am

CB & DL

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
flackcatcher's picture

February 20, 2021 at 04:01 pm

I agree. But this draft is for 2022 and beyond. (Sounding like a broken record here) Even with a Cap rebound, the number of contracts up after this season and the next may be too much to cover. While there are too many X-factors at play here long term. In the short term the Packers have replacements on the roster for every position expect CB. They are pretty much set for this year. I sure Gute has a plan. (Well, he better have plan :-)

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
canadapacker's picture

February 19, 2021 at 01:36 pm

Great article and it shows how tough the situation is - and it is worse if you look at the Packers salary on Spotrac. The NFL - stands for NOT FOR LONG - and rather than calling them greedy buggers as some posters have said - one needs to get paid because one is only one play away from a career ending injury or only bad stretch away from being replaced. Now how much is enough and do you want to structure your contract in a manner that you allow the team to bring in some better players - that is up to the individual player's pysche - some guys quit playing after getting the big contract - can you say Albert Haynesworth? Some get big contracts when their skills are deteriorating - Ahmad Green to Texas. Some players donate a lot of money to charity - Woodson $2 million to a childrens hospital. Some people say that """Tom Brady sacrificed at least $60 million in his career helping the Patriots build Super Bowl-winning rosters.""" Now for the big question - is it time for AR to do something towards getting some extra help into Green Bay - by either forgoing some salary or doing something creative to get a guy such as Watt or Kerrigan - or the wide receiver from the Bears Robinson and maybe an Olineman as there are several free agents or give some salary to keep Linsley for at least one more year. One final note - the cap is going down this year - I wonder how many players or agents may say - take less this year and hit them up big time next year - because this year you may not get that big contract as organizations will be a little bit gunshy given the current situation.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
flackcatcher's picture

February 19, 2021 at 03:17 pm

CHTV's own Capolgist TGR, had a comment on Al's Polluted Mind this week detailing how deep the Packers in are. (Scroll down to the bottom) As he pointed out to me (on another thread) the Packers have extremely little time(a month?) to make a decision on Rodgers contract. If they restructure then he is with the team for whatever X amount of time the deal is for. Not redoing gives Gutekunst and Ball the Cap flex they will need, but at a massive cost Cap wise, and dealing with the ego of one prickly dude. This year will be easy in comparison to the next. Even with the Cap bounce, the number of core player contracts that will be up will be hard to cover. 2022 could be a bloodbath Cap wise. Glad I'm not Gute.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
hobowilly's picture

February 19, 2021 at 05:24 pm

no argument here, but i'd remind you Gutey/Ball have done well if you consider this is the "new" GM's third campaign, and Ball's been around (did he take over from Brandt?); going to the NFCCG 2 years in a row would be envious to most franchises. Further, i happen to like the roster that's been built and the team environment mlf has brought. Not too many folks gave GB a chance of going 13-3 back to back. Mgmt of the cap is a game within a game, indeed. Last, admittedly I am a substantial Mr. Rodgers fan for many reasons, call him what you will, but i think he's an excellent teammate, leader and representative of this franchise.

+ REPLY
3 points
3
0
flackcatcher's picture

February 20, 2021 at 04:24 pm

Hey, no disagreement here on Gute/Ball. With Rodgers, if the Packers decide to restructure, there are known risks involved. Pretending that they don't exist helps no one in assessing the teams future. Don't kid yourself, extending Rodgers with his age and yes, ego, is a high risk play for Gutekunst. Would I do the deal, yes. But I would want team outs if QB1 is no longer QB1. And that's where things get 'dicey'. Glad I'm not Gute.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
HankScorpio's picture

February 19, 2021 at 05:05 pm

I'm not a fan of the way Russ Ball manages the cap. He defers too much in actual dollars spent to future cap years. He came from New Orleans and they were alway in cap hell when he was there. I expect that is the future for GB and we'll be talking about this anually for as long as he's around.

People like to piss and moan about draft and develop team building with rosters that skew to the inexperienced end of the scale. But that model is what prevents these conversations. If requires you consistently perform on draft day. So part of it is on Gute consistently nailing that part. It's still early in his tenure but I'm not entirely sold on that, either. I'd use much stronger language if not for the way Gary and Savage came on last season. But still, he seems to think 4th round picks are radioactive or something. He cannot trade them away fast enough. That round landed guys like Josh Sitton, TJ Lang, Mike Daniels and David Bahtiari.

+ REPLY
0 points
3
3
canadapacker's picture

February 19, 2021 at 05:47 pm

Look get your facts in order before dumping on people because your examples all suck. Josh played 13 games and IR and then was cut. TJ 6 games and was cut Daniels 9 games on a bum ankle that he had with the Pack and then was on IR and then cut - now with Cinci. TT did the same thing with Wahle and Riveria - and was mostly correct as only Wahle played well for 2 years. Better to cut a guy 1 year too soon than have a bunch of dead money by signing them to a long term deal. Now if you would have pointed to the old administration - Casey Hayword and Micah Hyde - might have a point. And I sometimes wonder why Tretter was let go. My complaint is maybe we need to look at both our scouts - we need to find more gems down late and our development - and that might have been because - on the D side we havent had as good of development the last 3 years of Capers and the 2 years of Pettine - and you can throw in our mismanagement of special teams.

+ REPLY
-1 points
1
2
HankScorpio's picture

February 19, 2021 at 06:28 pm

I was not criticizing the choice to move on from Sitton, Lang and Daniels. I was celebrating the choice to draft them way back when.

It was good humor for you to get it so wrong and then lead with me needing to get my facts straight.

+ REPLY
1 points
2
1
canadapacker's picture

February 19, 2021 at 07:29 pm

Way too obtuse for me . Reread it and still dont understand it other than your hatred of Russ Ball.

+ REPLY
0 points
1
1
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 19, 2021 at 06:27 pm

Cap problems and pushing cap hits down the road are a symptom of having consistently good to very good teams for the last 10 seasons. A GM would have to draft very (extremely?) well to keep the cap in good shape. I noted that TT was not in fact a tightwad: he spent every cent of the cap after he put $6M to $7M in the piggy bank. A couple of years ago I did an article IIRC that noted that TT rolled over about $7M each year (it came from Sitton's sudden release one year - but for that, GB would have rolled over a few hundred thousand).

Decide what you want. I can't remember where you came down in the TB 10-year cycle or the GB usually winning cycle.

@Flak: I don't think things are quite as dire but they aren't good. The $5M will help, and $8 or $10M would help more, obviously. GB can bloodlet, or they can push cap hits down the road and hope the cap grows. I would do the latter since AR has a 3 (?) year window.
We'll see what they do.

+ REPLY
4 points
4
0
HankScorpio's picture

February 20, 2021 at 02:39 am

I did not comment on winning cycle thing recently but I am firmly in the camp that all the team can reasonably do is put themselves in a position in January for the football gods to smile down upon them as the final few games play out. Which means I prefer the GB way to the TB way. For every TB that breaks through, there are multiple Detroits, Chicagos, etc, etc that don't.

So yeah, consistent winning over a decade does tend to strain the cap. But that's not the situation here. A series of poor drafts in the middle part of the decade led to a couple of down years led to a being flush with cap space led to a bit deeper dive into the FA pool. That dive worked nicely with Z, Amos, Preston Smith and Turner (not so nice with Jimmy Graham). But the fallout of that is that those 4 are all in the top 7 cap hits on the team. Which is natural because they were all signed in March, when deals tend to skew most favorably to player. And because of that, they are staring at losing Jones and Linsley now. Both are important players solidly in the conversation for the top 10 on the team.

It's definitely a very hard thing to pull off. TT did so as well as anybody right up until the end when he had that series of bad drafts that started the whole chain of events.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
flackcatcher's picture

February 20, 2021 at 05:43 pm

Thanks TGR. I come to believe that the Packers are on a ledge Cap Wise, along with a number of successful NFL teams. Some like the Steelers are facing their moment of truth. Others, like the Packers are able to delay it, thanks to good Cap management. Covid-19 just pushed this ahead by a year or two. The real problem for the league is their revue streams are starting to dry up. Not because of Covid-19 alone, but long term factors in how Ad revue is paid out. Or to put it simply, 'Aaron Nagler wants to get paid'. And there are a lot of Aaron's out there doing content. Big Aaron's and small Aaron's all wanting their share of the Ad stream. NFL can't charge them all, cause the league can't find them all. (Not from the lack of trying) But the big guys FOX and NBC and CBS and ESPN/Disney are all feeling the pinch too. ESPN told the NFL to pound sand when it came to an contract increase. Expect the same from the other nets. Smaller overall market shares gets one less Ad dollars. In both the short and medium term, the NFL and its teams will see less TV and streaming revue. And no, walk in and concessions and parking will not make up for the loss in case someone asks. How the owners deal with less money coming in is the big issue here. The NFL, like big news and entertainment companies is at the tail end of the biggest Black Swan Event of the late 20th and early 21st century. The Internet. We have seen entire industries vanish within the past 30 years, thanks to the pressure the internet has directly or indirectly put on those industries. To think sports, or successful operations like the NFL might not vanish is wishful thinking. So far the league's response is to put it's collective head down in the sand and pretend it's not happening. All Covid-19 did was accelerate the day of reckoning.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
stockholder's picture

February 19, 2021 at 11:35 pm

The vikings traded Stephan Diggs. If the packers trade Adams. Cap reduction. Watt gets signed. Top ten pick. Rodgers has to look for other WRs. Just being creative.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
html5's picture

February 20, 2021 at 12:45 am

I think your article is correct, thanks for your article
https://sudoku247.co

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
Adam90Brown's picture

March 05, 2021 at 06:52 am

You know, I’m really thankful that you’ve posted such useful information. By the way, talking about employment and income in general, I would like to say that for a long time I haven’t had an opportunity to find a decent job because I didn’t know where it’s possible to search. Despite this, at one day my close friend suggested me to use exactly this wonderful source https://uk.jooble.org/jobs-radio-presenter where I found my current occupation of radio presenter. This job is excellent because it allows me to interact with people, know more information about the world and also get a good salary. Therefore, if you’re also looking for a job, I highly advise you to use advantages of this reliable site!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Adam90Brown's picture

March 05, 2021 at 06:51 am

Good luck!

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.