Packers Cap Space After Game One - When Veteran Deals Are No Longer Guaranteed

Fans have been wondering whether the Packers will add a veteran player to the 2020 roster now that contracts for vested veterans are no longer fully guaranteed.  If cut mid-season, such veterans still have a termination claim for 35% of their unpaid Paragraph 5 salary or $1,050,000, whichever is greater.  Veterans generally can only claim termination pay once during their careers.

That said, how much cap space do the Packers have?  Overthecap lists Green Bay with $8.72 million in cap space.  That seems low to me.  I think OTC has $345,000 too much listed for the IR players, and another $135,000 for Bolton on the PUP, so it looks closer to $9.2 million to me.  I do not know if OTC has processed the injury settlements the Packers reached with Treyvon Hester and Will Sunderland and how much those settlements were worth.  Ken Ingalls, who keeps a very close and precise eye on the Packers Cap indicated in this tweet dated September 12 that the Packers have $9.367 million. I cannot be precise in my own calculations without knowing the details of the two injury settlements.  Mr. Ingalls tweeted that Hester's settlement looked to be for four weeks, or roughly $94,000.  If Sunderland got about the same, then $9.367 million sounds reasonable to me, though I would be closer to $9 million.  

Let us assume the Packers have about $9.3 million in space.  I do not know if the Packers plan to promote two players from the practice squad every week.  Doing so would cost $824,460 more this season.  For those interested, Overthecap lists Lovett and Gileai with cap hits of $170,282 each since they were promoted from the practice squad to the 53 for week one.  Promoted players earn the minimum of $610,000 divided by 17 weeks or $27,482 extra for each promoted player.  That is the amount every time one player is promoted. PS members earn $142,800, so the $27,482 brings their cap number to $170,282.

The Packers are widely expected to place Lane Taylor on injured reserve soon.  The team still has to pay Taylor on IR so there is no benefit to the cap there.  If the team replaces Taylor with a player making the minimum, the cap space would be reduced by $574,118 (16/17ths of $610,000).

So, boiling things down, $9.3 million minus $574K for Taylor's replacement and let's suggest $412K to $824K for promoting practice squad players to the 53 would leave $7.9 million to $8.3 million available.  The packers should keep something substantial in case of additional injuries and would be doing well to be able to rollover $6 or $7 million into 2021.

How Do Other Cap-Strapped Teams Keep Signing Expensive Players:

It depends on the team.  The Cowboys restructured three expensive players to open up $27 million in cap space for 2020.  They converted $15 million, $10 million, and $9 million of base salaries to signing bonuses for Demarcus Lawrence, Zack Martin and Tyron Smith, respectively.  The team has about $28 million in cap space and it will have $177 million in liabilities in 2021.  That might be manageable, even enough to re-sign Prescott.  The issue is that both Martin and Smith will be 31 in 2021 (and Tyron Smith has had some injuries), while Demarcus Lawrence will be 29 and their deals last several years.  I refuse to delve into the Saints.  Suffice to say that the Saints just restructured Sheldon Rankins to clear $4 million on the cap in 2020 by adding two void years to his contract.  If the cap is $175 million next year, it appears that the Saints will be $77 million over the cap.

The Packers could restructure and/or extend several players.  If Rodgers continues to look great, the Packers (next year) could convert up to $20 million or so to a signing bonus and add $12 million to the 2021 cap space.  The team could extend Adams to pick up $6M and extend Bakh to save $6M this year (but probably list him with a $7M+ cap number next year).  Ditto for the Smith Brothers.

Signing A Veteran:

Many have suggested signing Veldheer or Britt to bolster the offensive line.  Since all of the OL played in game one, there really is no one to cut who would move the needle on cap savings.  I do not know how much money Veldheer or Britt might require, but there is no one to cut to compensate on the cap in the offensive line.  The Packers could trade Linsley to save about $7.2 million, I suppose, but that should mean the team was very impressed with Britt during his workout, otherwise the team would be worse. Ditto for signing a run stuffer.  Cutting Lancaster does not move the cap needle, cutting Keke does not make sense, and Lowry has a negative cap saving number. Ditto for cornerback and wide receiver.    

The bottom line is that I do not see how to make signing a quality veteran a cap neutral event unless Gutekunst can find a tremendous gem.

Week one suggested that the Packers should make sure they have enough cap space to place tenders on RFAs Sullivan and Tonyan next year, and probably on Lancaster as well.  Redmond, Boyle and Greene are also RFAs.  A 2nd round tender was $3.25 million and the right of first refusal was $2.1 million for 2020, but those numbers could go down in 2021.  Still, keeping three of them on new contracts mixed with tenders sounds like $6 or $8 million, give or take.

The Packers have liabilities of $178 million for 2021 due to 37 players under contract.  Let's add $7 million to sign four RFAs, bringing contracted players up to 41.  The team will have 51 players at least so let's add $6.6 million more (10 players at the $660,000 rookie minimum), which brings liabilities up to $191.6 million ($178M + $7M + $6.6M).  If the 2021 salary cap is indeed $175 million, then the Packers would need to find $16.6 million in cap savings (less any rollover cap space from 2020) just to meet the Rule of 51 rules.  I have not included the cost of signing draft picks and UDFAs in May, or paying for the 52nd and 53rd contracts and the PS in September, plus any IR/PUP costs that might accrue, but those probably will be another $7 million if things go really well. And the Packers have still not signed Bakhtiari, Jones, Linsley, King, Jamaal Williams, Ervin, or Lewis (not that they need to sign all of these players).

Complying with the cap likely will be done by generating cap space with extensions and restructures, and with some cuts.  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
R Wagner $4.25M   A. Rodgers $4.79M

I do not foresee the Packers signing anyone this week.  Perhaps if the team looks great and is 8-1 near the trade deadline in October, Gutekunst might decide to go for it by acquiring a player in a trade.  Perhaps the front office, being in a much better position than fans and even media to evaluate it, might have good reason to believe the salary cap limit in 2021 will be significantly higher than $175 million.

I lean towards "win-now" mode and would love to see a quality defensive or offensive lineman brought in.  I just find it hard to believe that the Packers will do it.  

 

 

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Comments (30)

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 16, 2020 at 06:54 am

I chose to use a photo of Snacks for this article. I worried that readers might think the Packers signed him (or someone like him), but alas, no.

I think I'd prefer for the Packers to wait to acquire help, if they decide to do so at all this year. Playing the Saints on 9/27 should be revealing. What the Packers need in December and January might be something we fans don't see coming at this point. That could be my bias, since I think CB could be a sneaky need.

I see that I've written another article when Confessions has also just been issued. Arrggh!

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Coldworld's picture

September 16, 2020 at 08:05 am

Interesting and informative as ever. Thank you. I was looking at the RFA tendering list, something I’d overlooked. I have to think that there is a good chance we will tender all of Sullivan, Tonyan, Greene, Boyle and Redmond and Lancaster based on last week, even if the idea might be to trade Boyle.

I don’t think Burks or M Adams contracts are guaranteed. I also wonder how we intend to deal with the ST snaps of Tipa and Lovett on an ongoing basis. I could see Mack elevated this week somehow and I have to think it’s possible additional O line depth. just looks to me like we probably will have 2 extra PS squad players to add to the cap hit each week.

I saw that the Lions announced 4 protected players this week, but I don’t see anything from us. That would maybe give insight as to this week’s plan.

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fordguy's picture

September 16, 2020 at 12:48 pm

Who do you think could be a cap casualty next year? Bahk is going to demand big bucks to keep him, A.Jones is going to become the "is a running back worth it" question. And last but least, K King, Is there a feeling of he's past the injury bug as to re-signing him or are they going back to hope and pray that they can find consistent help at the position?

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Lphill's picture

September 16, 2020 at 07:10 am

Thanks for the great analysis, what would the cap ramifications be if the Packers outright cut Burks?

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 16, 2020 at 07:17 am

He has $295K in cap savings. A rookie making the minimum who replaces him would cost $574K for the rest of the season. Cutting Burks results in a reduction in cap space by $278K or so, but maybe results in better play?

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Coldworld's picture

September 16, 2020 at 08:01 am

Is his ST play worth retaining him at that price at this point? Maybe, given that he played a lot of snaps, that’s how the team will look at it at this point unless someone really shines, at least till Martin returns.

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optimisticfan's picture

September 16, 2020 at 01:04 pm

So Burks could hang on until Martin comes back or until his cut would allow a more promising player at some other position to be added to the 53. Or Burks is kept until they have a PS player who they want to put on the 53 because they already have temporarily elevated that player 2 times (Mack, Lovett, etc)

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Razer's picture

September 16, 2020 at 07:39 am

Great work. Tried to read this fresh out of bed and now I can't operate the coffee maker. Needless to say that resigning Bak, Jones and King seems like an insurmountable task. Cap man for the team needs to be good - real good.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 16, 2020 at 08:57 am

Or Goodell has to show he's worth his money and keep NFL revenue flowing despite limited or no fans in the seats. Murphy always seems to be on NFL commissions so he might have a good idea what the broadcasters will offer for the TV rights.

Sorry about your coffee. Jersey Al allows me to write about the cap, sort of like public service announcements: the articles are good for you even if they don't light the world on fire. I might be the broccoli of authors!

I forgot incentives and escalators! AR alone earned an extra $320K for his efforts in 2019, Bakh earned $500K extra, and I am sure other players have incentives.

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gkarl's picture

September 16, 2020 at 02:26 pm

Let's hear it for broccoli TGR. It even better smothered in CHEESE!

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dblbogey's picture

September 16, 2020 at 11:00 am

Yes, and Linsley will be too expensive. He's gone. I'd go Bakh, Jones and King, in that order to re-sign.

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murf7777's picture

September 16, 2020 at 11:25 am

I agree Bak first, than I’d probably go King as I feel good CB’s are harder to replace and we have Dillon to take over.

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NickPerry's picture

September 16, 2020 at 07:41 am

Thank you TGR! I for one really appreciate the breakdowns you provide on the salary cap. Keep it up, I know others do too!

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Lare's picture

September 16, 2020 at 09:12 am

Yes, I do too. Sometimes it's depressing to see how little the Packers have in actual cap space, but I appreciate knowing the facts. Thanks again TGR.

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PackfanNY's picture

September 16, 2020 at 08:18 am

Great job and thanks for the breakdown. I have been a financial and operational Auditor for 30 years and this made my hair hurt. Also, shows that there is a lot more to being a GM like Gute or a capologist (?) like Russ Ball. Not as easy as saying “go sign that guy”.

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JerseyAl's picture

September 16, 2020 at 09:27 am

Great job as always with the numbers!

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Ferrari-Driver's picture

September 16, 2020 at 09:54 am

Nice evaluation. In my younger days I used to do some critical path analysis on the Space Shuttle Program. Works best with a good night's sleep and a clear head.

I also like your articles in general. Keep up the good work.

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Johnblood27's picture

September 16, 2020 at 10:02 am

Thanks TGR, I really enjoy your articles, not so much opinion and fanspeak and actual facts that actually impact the roster make-up of my favorite sports team.

Great read for a lifelong learner.

Much appreciated!

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KenIngalls's picture

September 16, 2020 at 10:19 am

Excellent salary cap article - thanks for linking to my Twitter information!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 16, 2020 at 04:25 pm

I not only linked to your twitter account, I read it regularly and follow you on twitter. I am getting older: you are the reason I opened a twitter account. Maybe some day I will actually issue a tweet!

Thank you for reading and for your comment.

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ShooterMcGee's picture

September 16, 2020 at 11:28 am

TGR do you know if protecting players on the ps has a cost? I understand we can protect 4 every week but haven't done so. Why wouldn't we protect players if there is no cost/cap hit?
Thanks for all the great articles.

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Coldworld's picture

September 16, 2020 at 02:30 pm

Do we know that we haven’t?

No cost to protect as I read it, the cost comes only if a team chooses to activate a PS player that week.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 16, 2020 at 04:44 pm

There is no cost that I know of. Obviously, players would like for a team to claim them so they earn the big bucks. 4 or 5 games on the 53 equals a PS player's entire annual PS pay. $35,882 per week for a min. rookie (more if the PS guy has been around for a while) beats the heck out of $8,400/week. So morale and being viewed as a good place to sign with would be costs.

Fans and media do know if PS players are protected. Aaron Nagler (IIRC) just tweeted that GB did not protect any PS players. I believe teams have to do that on Tuesdays each week.

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murf7777's picture

September 16, 2020 at 11:28 am

Thanks TGR, great job as always. This will be a difficult off season as most are. Let’s enjoy the ride of this season, hopefully it will be a special one. GPG

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optimisticfan's picture

September 16, 2020 at 11:49 am

TGR,
Well done as always. You make a good case. So us fans should be patient and see how everything pans out. It would be a good problem to have to be 8-1 near the trade deadline and BG having to decide whether to go all in on this season and sign a vet or keep that money for the future.

It is exciting to see the encouraging signs about our depth. Hope that after the Saints game we are talking about how improved our defense is with Mack at NT on running downs freeing up Clark to solidify one DE spot and a platoon of Lancaster/Lowry/Gary solidifying the other side of the line to stuff the run. We shall see. Also hope Runyan steadily improves and over takes Patrick. Then our depth really would be solid.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

September 16, 2020 at 05:04 pm

Well, what GB should actually do is opinion. As I wrote above, I am more of a "win-now" guy given that AR won't be around forever. I don't have a problem watching a 2-14 team the first year after AR retires.

I am saying that keeping as much rollover as possible will be very useful in 2021. If they spend some $ to acquire someone this year, that means Ball and Gute will have to be more aggressive and take more risk at some point to generate cap space. The risk is of a Nick Perry-type contract. That's why I pointed to Dallas: the Cowboys need Tyron Smith, Zach Martin and Lawrence to remain excellent players and to stay healthy, but with the restructures they can re-sign Prescott.

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flackcatcher's picture

September 16, 2020 at 01:34 pm

So clear TGR. Thanks. I still think the Packers are evaluating their roster. With no real in game video, some players are getting looks they normally would not in season. Marginal on the Cap either way. Looking at that list I don't know who wins, Father time or Cap Man. At least we're not the Saints, or Vikings, or Bears......

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PatrickGB's picture

September 16, 2020 at 05:09 pm

I think the we fans will be shocked when Bak and Jones are let go. Maybe Lindsay is let go as well. Jenkins may end up at Tackle, Patrick at center, Runyan at RG and Turner at RT. It’s Williams and Dillon at RB. I hate myself for typing this! But unless the cap goes up or we trade Rodgers the team has little choice. Let’s hope for the former.

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CoachDino's picture

September 16, 2020 at 07:04 pm

Good stuff.

IMO Arod contract is the killer. I'm not saying it was a bad signing, just expensive cap wise going forward. Loved your thoughts. I've been naively saying extend him, thinking that's how to spread the $ over more years. Your article educated me on how things work. Any reason both sides wouldn't be for it?

No mention of personnel moves should be done w/o cap impact analysis. Would certainly cut down on the crazy sign them all mantra.

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CoachDino's picture

September 18, 2020 at 03:49 pm

How do you down vote a post thanking the writer, admitting your own lack of cap/contract knowledge and noting how cap impact should be included in any serious player / personnel moves?

What stands out to me is how seldom down votes come with any counter arguments. Its never my concern on votes up or down, that can just be the type of post, but counter arguments are what are of interest. Can learn from that be it, strengthen or weaken my view on my previous stance.

Looks like I made it!!! You know you have when people start just hating on you...

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