Kenny Clark's Contract Structure Is Interesting And It Is A Bargain

Tom Silverstein has reported on the details of Kenny Clark's new contract.  You can see his tweets here.  Overthecap.com agrees with those numbers.  Here is a breakdown of the deal:

Yr Base Pro Roster GA W/O Cap # Savings
20 $1.69M $5.0M 0 0 0 $6.69M ($18.31M)
21 $1.00M $5.0M 0 $.5M $.6M $7.10M ($12.90M)
22 $8.00M $5.0M $6.4M $.55M $.7M $20.65M $5.65M
23 $13.0M $5.0M $2.0M $.55M $.7M $21.25M $11.25M
24 $15.55M $5.0M 0 $.75M $.7M $22.00M $17.00M

Clark will get $26.69 million in 2020 and just $2.1 million in cash in 2021.  Total cash over the first two years is just $28.79 million, far less than the $37 million that was initially reported.  Only the $25M signing bonus is guaranteed.  The deal is far inferior to the deal signed by Grady Jarrett last year.  Jarrett got $38 million guaranteed at signing and $38.018 million in cash over two years.  The disparity might be because Jarrett is a somewhat better player, but most of it is probably due to the Covid crisis and resulting likely slashing of the 2021 salary cap limit plus Clark's cooperation.

I have been wondering about Clark's cap numbers for 2020 and 2021, suspecting that those numbers will tell fans a lot about the Packers' plans for their other free agents in 2021 and their long-term plans in general.  Including Clark's deal, the Packers have $188.9 million in cap liabilities for 2021.  I expect the cap to be $175 million, the floor agreed to by the NFL and the union.  It is possible that a side agreement changing that floor might be reached or that by some wizardry the NFL is able to generate more income despite empty stadiums.

Clark's low cap numbers in 2020 and 2021 conceivably could allow the Packers to retain more of their 2021 free agents if they choose to act aggressively.  Assuming for the moment that the salary cap limit will be $175 million and given that the team currently has $14.34 million in space for 2021, $175M + $14.34M yields an effective cap space in 2021 of $189.34M, which is slightly more than its liabilities.  However, that $14.34 million will be reduced by about $3.9 million when the practice squad and the 52nd and 53rd contracts count in September, leaving a net of $10.44 million. 

The Packers will almost certainly incur costs against that amount for IR and in-season moves, or even to sign a free agent.  Allowing for a three to five million cushion for unquantifiable but likely charges in 2020 would not be unreasonable.  One could hope for a rollover in the $7.4 million area, perhaps a bit more if things go well.  The team's effective cap space might be in the $182 to $184 million range, meaning cuts in the $5 to $7 million dollar range would be necessary plus more cuts to generate space for whatever tenders might seem wise for some or all of the following RFAs: Sullivan, Greene, Boyle, Lancaster, Redmond, Kumerow and Light.

Let us look at players with cap savings in 2021 if released. 

Player Savings   Player Savings
D. Adams $13.0M   B Turner $3.55M/$4.8M
Z. Smith $10.75M   D. Lowry $3.30M/$4.8M
P Smith $8.0M   M. Crosby $2.50M
C. Kirksey $6.0M   L. Patrick  $1.45M
A. Amos $4.45M/$5.8M   J. Jackson $1.33M

Most of those players are unlikely candidates to be released but some might be depending on their own play and/or the performance of young players. Waiting until June 2, 2021 (or designating them as June releases) would substantially increase the savings in the case of players like Amos, Turner, and Lowry, but not Z and P Smith due to roster bonuses due in March.  Releasing Rodgers in 2021 would generate savings of $4.796 million if done prior to his roster bonus due date.

Another way to generate cap space would be to extend Bakhtiari now.  The Packers could reduce Bakhtiari's 2020 salary cap number by $5.5 million.  His 2021 cap number could be anything from $9M to whatever the Packers might deem wise.  The Packers could gain some cap space by converting base and roster money to a signing bonus on Rodgers' contract.   

At any rate, under that analysis it would be hard indeed for the Packers to re-sign very many more of its players who are scheduled to become free agents.  At least the Packers have put themselves into a position to re-sign some players if the salary cap unexpectly is more than $175 million (due to a side track agreement or just more revenue than anticipated by most) or if a slew of young players make more expensive veterans expendable.

  

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Comments (6)

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dobber's picture

August 25, 2020 at 01:23 pm

This deal works very well for the Packers. Virtually all the cash and roster bonuses come in 2022 and beyond. 2022 would be the last year of the contracts for the Smiths, Amos, and Turner based on what they've signed (although it's possible there might be an extension or release in that group)...but more significantly, a trade or release on #12 after the 2021 season nets the Packers $22M in cap savings.

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Lphill's picture

August 25, 2020 at 02:04 pm

are you anticipating Rodgers departure just for cap space , or did I miss your point?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

August 26, 2020 at 03:39 am

"Someone’s planning for a QB on his rookie contract in 2022." Tweet by Matt Schneidman.

Sounds like Schneidman agrees with Dobber. OTOH, Ken Ingalls and Ross Uglem think it is strictly driven by the likely low salary cap expected in 2021. The low cap hits does allow GB to sign someone if the cap is a bit higher than expected (see JeremyJ below).

Love was very much up and down in Tuesday's practice.

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flackcatcher's picture

August 25, 2020 at 01:54 pm

Thanks TGR. So is this the future NFL players contract? Two years cash upfront and a players or team out. The rest, vapercash? I can understand the reasoning on both sides, too many X-factors short term. If this is how the league going to work, there are some real issues ahead on how teams build their rosters. Packers for example under Wolf and Thompson build out in 4-5 year cycles. Gute was following the same pattern. But now if Clarke's contract is the norm, how does Gute build in a 2-3 year cycle. Gives new meaning to the term 'win now'. Of course, the league's revue stream could return to the status quo after the convid-19 crisis is over, maybe. Waiting for Bahktiari's contract dance to begin...

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frankthefork's picture

August 25, 2020 at 03:18 pm

Thanks TGR. At first signing I was happy for KG, but I thought that GBP had little coin left to get Bak on a deal. It looks much better now for cap room, but not enough to get AJ, Bak and or lindsay done this year. Some tough good-byes coming in January or sooner. GPG.

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jeremyjjbrown's picture

August 25, 2020 at 04:32 pm

I'm expecting a side track agreement for 2021. 175 million would force too many teams to release really good players and I doubt the owners are going to be excited about that in a one season scenario. No doubt the players union would be willing to negotiate for more 2021 money and possibly willing to give on something the owners want badly like a 17th game.

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