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Packers Self-Scouting With An Eye Towards Off-Season Roster Building

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Packers Self-Scouting With An Eye Towards Off-Season Roster Building

The Packers are going to have a lot of decisions to make next March and during the rest of the 2019 league year.  I will be watching certain players closely when I re-watch games over the rest of the season to formulate opinions about which players we should keep and which ones might become cap casualties.  The Packers will have 12 unrestricted free agents, two restricted free agents, and possibly three players who will qualify for a significant increase in pay through the Proven Performance Escalator.

In the spreadsheet below, I have listed twelve players who are under contract for 2019 and provided their contract information.  They are possible cap casualties.  Since I write about the cap rather than opining about the merits of players, I listed every player with significant cap savings or who have come under fire from fans. 

It is pretty self-explanatory.  The ratio is cap savings to dead money.  I always look harder at players who have ratios above two to one, but large-cap savings cannot be ignored.  Space was limited for listing backups.  While I listed Lowry as Daniels’ backup, one could reasonably assert that Lowry is a starter and the backup to Daniels is Montravius Adams.  Timing means when a decision on the player should be made.  September means the decision can wait until final cut downs.  Some players will earn workout bonuses, so releasing them prior to the time those are earned (April to June over 9 weeks) would be optimal.  Generally, the workout bonuses are not so large as to preclude releasing the player later if it is otherwise warranted.  Two players have large roster bonuses due on the 3rd day of the new league year: Perry ($4.8 million) and Tramon Williams ($1 million).  In Perry’s case, if he is paid the $4.8 million roster bonus in early March, that would negate all the cap savings and actually mean that releasing him reduces cap space by $1.2 million.  The Packers can look at free agents during the legal tampering period but should decide on Perry and Williams within two days of the start of actual free agency.

I do not think Daniels, Taylor, or Graham are going anywhere.  Bulaga may have an injury history, but so far in 2018, he has played 87.8% of all possible snaps.  The offense seems to work much better when he is playing and most fan comments pray for his health rather than for his release next year.  Crosby has detractors and recently had a very bad game.  Crosby’s cap savings of $3.6 million is large for a kicker.  I suspect that it would take more bad games for Crosby to figure prominently in any offseason debates. 

Perry is firmly in the crosshairs of many fans.  $3.6 million cap savings is not enough to pay for a good replacement.  On the other hand, if the replacement merely needs to set the edge and play good run defense, maybe even have the ability to drop into coverage, there might well be a number of free agent candidates available in the $3.6 million to $5 million area.  Such a replacement might be viewed as a band-aid since that type of player probably does not solve the problem.  The cap savings could be used for other purposes as well.     

Tramon Williams is an interesting case.  He has roughly a three to one cap savings to dead money ratio and $4.75 million in gross cap savings.  Moving Williams to safety has also been mentioned by fans if not the team.  Until I see the move made, I will think of him as a cornerback and possibly an emergency backup at safety.  The health and development of King, Alexander and Jackson will play a large part in this decision.  How well Breeland plays and whether the Packers decide to re-sign him also factors in.  If Williams looks to be the third cornerback on the team in 2019, $6.375 million seems like an acceptable amount.  If the three young players beat him out so he is relegated to fourth, that is a closer call.  If the Packers elect to re-sign Breeland and Williams becomes the fifth cornerback, that might bring up the debate we had when deciding on Tretter: how much can a team pay a backup?  The Packers have Tony Brown under contract as well.  All the while one might have to consider whether Williams could move to safety, and look at the situations involving Brice and Clinton-Dix, which are addressed below.

I listed Josh Jones, Spriggs, Murphy, and Montravius Adams simply because they are underperformers.  The cap savings is negligible except for Spriggs, and even there it isn’t terribly significant.  For example, though Adams has $500,000 in cap savings, someone is going to take his roster spot for the NFL minimum of $495,000 or more.  Cutting any one of these four players really is not about cap space.  

This article is about evaluating current players on the roster.  The draft and free agency can also provide replacements for any cap casualties.


Proven Performance Escalator:


Martinez has already earned this escalator (though not technically), which should increase his cap number to about $2.1 million.  Lowry needs to play another 175 snaps this season to earn the escalator and bump his cap number up to $2.1 million.  Fackrell has a chance to earn it as well.  At present, he has played 31.5% of available snap so far in 2018.  He needs to play 35% of possible snaps in 2018 to earn the escalator.  So far Perry and Matthews have not missed much time, but if they do Fackrell’s snaps will increase.  Should Fackrell earn the PPE, his cap hit would increase to almost $2.2 million.  He would have a cap savings of about $2 million.  Would that factor into anyone’s thinking?  Fackrell is still Andy Herman’s highest graded outside linebacker on the Packers. 


Restricted Free Agents:


Brice and Allison will be restricted free agents.  Last year the tenders were $4.149 million for compensation of a first round pick, $2.914 million for a second rounder, and $1.9 million for the right of first refusal/original round.  Since both were UDFAs, the low tender would mean no draft compensation for the Packers if the team didn’t match any offers. 

The Packers could decline to tender Brice, making him an unrestricted free agent.  Non-tendered players are not eligible for the compensatory pick formula.  Someone would probably sign Brice, but probably not for a lot of money and he might not make the acquiring team’s roster anyway.  If not tendered, the Packers could then try to re-sign Brice for modest money or let him walk.  The Packers will have Whitehead and Greene at safety.  The decisions made on Clinton-Dix and perhaps Tramon Williams might factor in.  Should the Packer issue a tender to Brice?  If so, which one?

Allison is also a tricky issue.  His statistics are undeniable: 19 receptions on 29 targets (65% catch rate) for 289 yards, a 15.2 yards per receptions average, and 72.3 yards per game in the four games he has played.  Tenders are not guaranteed: the player has to make the roster to earn the tender.  How do other teams view Allison?  Should the Packers put a tender on Allison (the second-round tender at $3M should scare teams off), keep him for 2019 and decide what to do after the 2019 season when he will be an unrestricted free agent?  A lot depends on how Allison and the rookies play


Players Not Under Contract for 2019:

Below is a spreadsheet with the basic contract information and projected compensatory pick possibilities for players who are not under contract with the Packers in 2019.  Obviously how well these players perform for the rest of 2018 and how their potential internal replacements perform will be most important.  The biggest factor probably is how other teams view these players and what contracts they can or are perceived to be able to command in free agency.

Green Bay signed Breeland, Lewis, Bell, and Toomer after May 8.  I do not believe they are eligible for consideration for compensatory picks. 

As a note, OTC and Sportrac have not included the escalators or the restricted free agent tenders in their cap space projections for 2019, probably because none of them are official and Lowry and Fackrell have not even earned the escalator yet.  Similarly, Allison and Brice are completely absent from their lists of players for 2019, and Martinez, Lowry, and Fackrell are listed at their current contract levels rather than with the escalators.  Both sites show Green Bay with about $45.8 million in cap space (assuming an increase in the cap limit to $190 million in 2019).  If Martinez, Lowry, and Fackrell all earn the PPE, that would reduce cap space by $3.8 million.  If Brice and Allison are both tendered at the lowest level, that would be another $4 million reduction.  We’d still only have 45 players listed and we are sure to have more than 51, so six more players at the $495,000 minimum should be counted, or another $3 million. All that would reduce Green Bay’s cap space from $46 million to about $35 million. 

Green Bay plays some good teams in its remaining games.  It should be an excellent opportunity to evaluate personnel.

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (36) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

The TKstinator's picture

More great work, TGR!
Dilly dilly!

Turophile's picture

Nicely presented Reynoldo, and thorough. It makes the individual players circumstances much clearer.

I especially noticed how much Crosby was earning for a kicker. That's what longevity in the NFL gets you. That contract plus his age next year (34), suggests to me that a late 2019 pick will be spent to provide competition and possible replacement.

Bearmeat's picture

Awesome work James. Thanks.

I'd personally like to see Allison back from the list of contracts that are up, and that's it.

Regarding "easy" cuts of people who are not up this offseason, I just don't see many of them...

Lare's picture

Thanks for the information TGR. Personally, I think sometimes we look too much at the salary and cap information and not enough at the player and his production.

Case in point is Perry. So sure, the cap savings by cutting him doesn't pay for his replacement. But if he's an ineffective OLB why pay him anything at all? Same goes for Matthews, Cobb, HHCD and Brice.

I guess my point is, the team needs to improve at several positions and while cap hit should be a consideration, the primary consideration should be improving the talent on the roster and the production on the playing field.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Point taken.

I read Demovsky's report that GB has no interest in re-signing CM3. I don't fancy going into 2019 with Gilbert, Fackrell, Donnerson, and a high draft pick as our OLB corps. I think we need more than that. IDK what CM3 might command next year (my opinion of CM3 has always been higher than most fans), but you may be right that Perry and/or CM3 aren't the answer or even a band-aid. Maybe Gute looks at multiple draft picks at rusher, trade or FA.

Since '61's picture

Great Job TGR! I will hold off until the end of the season before I consider who the Packers should chuck, unless the season goes off the rails over the next 4-5 weeks.

Unless something drastically changes Perry and CM3 should be gone and probably Cobb if our young WRs show that they can play the slot.

It's time to gain additional cap space so that Gute can build his team as opposed to living with TTs. Thanks, Since '61

The TKstinator's picture

I also expect those 3 subtractions.

Bearmeat's picture

Doubt Perry, with as much dead money as he would cost. The other two, yeah. No brainier.

The TKstinator's picture

One could argue that Perry’s contract is already “dead money”.

Bearmeat's picture

I mean, you're not wrong. But I can't remember the last cut like that... Joe Johnson, maybe?

The TKstinator's picture

You could be right, I dunno. I get the whole “bonus spread out over the years of the contract”, but it just doesn’t seem right that cutting a player should ever actually create a loss of cap space for a team.

Bearmeat's picture

Then you are talking about fully guaranteed contracts. I think NFL contracts should be fully guaranteed... but that is a radical shift.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

If contracts were fully guaranteed (with no incentives), there would never be any cap savings or reductions in projected cap space. In other words, cutting a player would always means a cost and never any team savings.

Bill Atkinson's picture

I may be wrong but I think that the Proven Performance Escalator bonus is paid by the League and not by the individual teams.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

The NFL likes to be confusing (Performance Based Pay vs. Proven Performance Escalator). PPE is only for players entering their 4th year who were drafted in rounds 3 to 7, inclusive, and is based on playing time during their first three years. 1st, 2nd round guys and UDFAs need not apply. Teams pay those escalators (if the player makes the roster or goes on IR) and it counts against the salary cap.

You are probably thinking about the Veteran's Pool and the Rookie Redistribution fund. Players with less than one accrued season are ineligible for the Veterans pool, but most young players qualify for the rookie redistribution fund. The union funds these two funds and the NFL contributes. That money does not count against the cap.

Blake Martinez has made out like a bandit, getting almost $380K or so for 2017 that GB didn't have to pay or count on the cap. Ladarius Gunter received $306K for 2016. The funds pay based on playing time, not whether the player is good or bad.
Found the article for last year:

Bure9620's picture

Nice work, I would be surpirsed if Tramon is back. CMIII, Cobb, HHCD, Lewis, Kendricks, Ryan, Bell should all be gone. It it will be interesting to see how Breeland plays and what he demands on the market. I would like to see Montgomery signed. Wilkerson's price tag may be lower and he may be worth resigning.

Rak47's picture

Not sure why you would want Bell gone as he is doing a yeoman's job on the offensive line, where he can play guard and tackle in a pinch and doesn't cost much. So what are you gonna do cut Spriggs, Murphy, and Bell and think you're going to bring in 3 quality lineman? Good luck with that. I'd get rid of the two bums Spriggs and Murphy before I even considered doing anything with Bell. I could care less if Spriggs and Murphy cost less, they stink plain and simple and while Bell may not be a pro bowler he's at least serviceable unlike Spriggs and Murphy.

Coldworld's picture

I am not sure Murphy ever fully got over prior injury. I’d give him a chance in camp next year to see as he was a good back up when called on prior to getting hurt. Very little cost in doing so.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I wondered about Murphy's subpar play being associated with a nagging injury as well. That's why I put in the column about when the Packers have to decide whether to keep a player. GB can wait until September to see how Murphy looks.

Same for Ryan: I would re-sign Ryan for the Minumum with little and likely no guaranteed money (that's about what Ryan should command coming off an ACL injury - he probably won't be fully recovered in June but maybe by late July for TC). We are a little thin at ILB and Ryan looked much better than Morrison. I haven't really watched Toomer.

As for Byron Bell, I am all for trying to find an upgrade and I will watch him over the rest of the season (grading him on a curve against Aaron Donald!), but he looks more or less serviceable at RG.

Bure9620's picture

Rak, good comment. Yes you are right, Bell is doing yeomans work. I would consider Bell at a low price tag, but, we can do better. I do like Lucas Patrick I think he progresses. Also, not sure if Cole Madison is back next year? They likely draft one as well. Agreed on Spriggs and Murphy but they have another year left, and are more cap casualties that get released. I was referring more to impending FAs.

Lare's picture

Another interesting question is if the Packers lose to the Rams in convincing fashion, would they consider going into "Sell" mode to rebuild for the future. And if so, what could they expect to get in return by trading any of the players in the table above?

Rak47's picture

Not much I would expect Lare. We have no Khalil Mack's or Amari Cooper's on our roster that anyone would want other than AR himself and that aint happening. The idea of a fire sale is to dump salaries, but you must at least have a player who has strong potential to play up to his contract. The Packers have AR, Bhaktiari, and Adams, and that's about it, I don't see anyone else on their roster making 8 million plus playing anywhere near their contract.

dobber's picture

While in other leagues, the idea of a fire-sale might be to dump salary, in the NFL I would argue it's more about building draft capital.

fthisJack's picture

i think Cobb is expendable. he misses a lot of time and really has not been missed the last 3 games with the development of the rookies IMO. if the Packers could trade him and get maybe a third round draft pick, i would be happy. i just don't think anyone would be willing to take on his contract unless they are in the playoff hunt and are desperate for a slot receiver.

The TKstinator's picture

@dobber: And that’s in Washington DC, right?

dobber's picture

A drafty capitol?

Lphill's picture

So basically most of you want to purge more than half of the team . Sorry not gonna happen as long as Rodgers is there , a few will be gone and a few new faces but that's about it. If they get an edge rusher in FA or the draft and maybe a safety, that's all they really need to strengthen the D and some help for the O line . Let's be realistic .

Packer Dave's picture

Something has got to give between Cobb CM3 and Perry. 38 million sunk into those guys collectively is mind boggling. I would keep HaHa around. Bulaga too. Only so many holes to patch in a year. If we see steps from Tonyan, Donnerson, MVS, ESB and the corners I think the team will be off to a solid start for next year with two 1sts and maybe Cole joining the team again. I just don't see the team getting it together this year with the schedule ahead as it is.

fthisJack's picture

if they could shore up the S and OLB positions this would be a formidable defense going forward.

Doug_In_Sandpoint's picture

Another possible scenario is that the rest of the season is underwhelming, MM is replaced, and the new coach wants his guys, not the existing roster. Then again, with our front office setup, it would be Gute’s call, right? It also means we won’t be competitive for coaches who want some say in the roster.

Guam's picture

Thank you for all of the hard work TGR - well done!

Generally agree with the comments on cutting Cobb and CMIII. I could see CMIII returning as an ILB at a much reduced salary although I doubt his ego would allow that. I think he would be better than Morrison or Toomer.

Perry is a conundrum which TGR very aptly pointed out. He is not living up to his contract, but you can't replace his performance with the small cap savings he would generate. Probably stuck with him for another year.

I would also give Murphy another look. He played well two years ago and then didn't play well this year before he was hurt. Not sure what happened but others have tossed out the idea he was playing injured.

DD's picture

Great. Self scouting for next year? Really. Giving up on this year then? We develop players; NOT.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

I can see how that might be inferred, but it isn't what I meant to imply. It isn't about purging the team or giving up on this year. On the contrary, it is about paying a little extra attention to certain personnel and noting the development of rookies and 2nd/3rd-year guys. I am rooting for the young guys to develop and improve the team this year and for the established players to play well (while watching for any decline in older players).

RobinsonDavis's picture

I just wish to thank you, James, for the extensive work and thought....especially the Perry scenarios. Let's keep revisiting this as the season progresses.

On a side note, the Pack has some other decisions to make soon with Davis and Kumerow on IR. I also believe the Packers may still pick up an existing player, but feel this may not be Bell or and OLB as rumored. I would not be surprised to see a swing Tackle/Guard and/or a safety or DE bought aboard. I wish they would make a decision on Josh Jones soon. It's doing nothing for Jones or the team to keep him on the roster if they have lost faith.

henry113's picture

TGR, good job man

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Breeland is on a qualified contract which means he can not be extended in-season should he play well. Breeland will be signed during free agency (barring a trade or something unusual).

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