The 2015 Packers Salary Cap Positional Breakdown

The Packers will work with the $143.28 million salary cap for this NFL season. Where each team separates themselves is how they are setup to use their cap. 

The NFL salary cap is more than just the amount of money a team can spend in a year, it is another strategic tool for teams to use to set themselves up for success this year and for future years.

The Green Bay Packers are no different than any other team, they will work with the $143.28 million salary cap for this NFL season. Where each team separates themselves is how they are setup to use their cap.

While the salary cap for 2015 for each team is $143.28 million, it doesn’t mean each team has to spend that much or can only spend that much.

There are many factors that come into play for how much a team has to spend this season, or any season.

 

One of those factors is a rollover of last year’s cap. That rollover allows teams to allot a certain amount of last season’s unspent cap, announced before the end of last season, to add on to this current season’s cap. So if a team where to be well under the cap last year, like the Jacksonville Jaguars were, they could strategically set themselves up for a large amount of available money for this year. Which is exactly what the Jaguars did and they had a league leading $168.5 million to work with.

For the 2015 season the Packers rolled over $7.79 million from the 2014 season. That makes their total adjusted cap figure for this season $151.47 million.

Just like how teams can rollover money from the previous season and add it to their cap, money can be taken away from their total cap figure by “dead money.” Dead money is money that comes from players that were cut, but still owed money against the cap. That money doesn’t go away and carries over.

This year Ted Thompson has done a wonderful job at minimizing the amount of dead money against the Packers’ cap. This is something that Ted has done really well for the Packers each year. In 2013 the Packers had the lowest amount of dead money, in 2014 they had the second lowest, and as it stands now, they have the fifth lowest at $3.19 million, half of that is due to the release of A.J. Hawk.

The biggest thing that fans look at with the salary cap is that it is the amount of money their team has available to them to buy players and build their team. How much of that money is allocated to each position is completely up to each individual team. Below are charts showing where on the roster the Packers have their salary cap tied up for 2015 in comparison to the average of the rest of the NFC North, the NFL average for the other 31 teams, and the numbers for the 2014 Packers. Since each team has a different amount of available money, the numbers are in percent of salary cap, not total money spent.

 

Lets start with the offense:

 

 

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Green Bay Packers Positional Salary Cap Rankings
POSITION YEAR NFL
RANK
QB 2014 3
2015 8
RB 2014 23
2015 28
FB 2014 9
2015 17
WR 2014 19
2015 21
TE 2014 26
2015 28
OL 2014 14
2015 17

It is no surprise that the Packers are well above the NFL average in spending on the quarterback position. When you have one of the best quarterbacks in the history of the game and he is not on his rookie contract, that is going to cost a lot of money. What is more surprising is that the Packers only rank 8th in spending on quarterbacks this year. Part of this is due to Tolzien and Hundley being on very cheap deals, but the other part is just how "team friendly" Rodgers' deal was. Sure, it is a monster contract, but he could have commanded a lot more money and it is a little bit back-loaded with his cap-hit jumping up to $21 million in the final two years (currently $18 million).

The other surprising part of the quarterback numbers is just how low the average NFL team's percent of the salary cap goes to the quarterback position. The teams that have elite, or at least elitely paid *cough* Bears *cough*, quarterbacks pay them nicely. Everyone else is looking for the next big thing, which will likely be on a more team-friendly rookie contract. Half of the league has their starting quarterback with a cap-hit under $10 million and a third of the league has their starting quarterback with a cap hit under $5 million. 

Of all the offensive positions, the cap-hit of running backs is the most shocking. The devaluation of the running back position is real and teams have refused to payout the big contracts for them. The NFC North is the exception to that rule. Adrian Peterson ($15.4 million!!!) and Matt Forte ($9.2 million) are the number one and number two running backs. The Packers on the other hand have taken the exact opposite approach as the Bears and Vikings. The Packers are the 28th ranked team in the NFL this year when it comes to percentage of their salary cap being used by the running back position. No Packer running back will make $2 million this year and James Starks ($1.8 million) is going to cost twice as much money as Eddie Lacy ($925 thousand), which is pretty ridiculous. But that's the NFL.

The fullback position is dead (unfortunately. I love it and the I formation) and there is no reason to talk about those numbers. 

KUUUUUUHHHHHHHHNNNNNNNNNNN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Drafting talented, young wide receivers and not signing them to a monster second deal (and rarely giving them a third deal) has allowed the Packers to have one of the best groups of receivers for years without it costing them.

In terms of cap percentage the last two years the Packers' receivers have ranked 19th and 21st in the NFL. Even with a jump up to 7.9 percent of their cap this year from 6.1 percent last year, the Packers are still below the league average of 9.2 percent and well below the 12.5 percent average of the NFC North. Within the division, Detroit has Calvin Johnson (number one in the NFL), Minnesota has Mike Wallace (number eight in the NFL), and let this sink in: the Bears are paying Eddie Royal more this year than the Packers are paying Randall Cobb or Jordy Nelson.

The funds are going to have to shift around a little next year for the Packers as Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson are both scheduled to roughly double their pay.  

The Packers have next to nothing invested in their tight ends, with only Andrew Quarless scheduled to make more than a million dollars this year before he hits free agency at the end of the season. Ranked 28th in the NFL in terms of salary cap taken up by tight ends, it is safe to say that the Packers have saved some money here. FOr better or for worse.

Ranked 17th in spending this year when it comes to the offensive line, the Packers are pretty much right in the middle of the pack in the NFL. This is on par with the division which sees a two percent difference from what the Packers are spending, the closest of any offensive position outside of fullback. Most of the NFL is pretty close in spending when it comes to the offensive line as a whole with 2/3 of the league spending in the 11 percent to 17 percent range. Detroit ranks dead last at 6.41 percent. The Packers make up for paying their tackles and centers less than most teams by having the most amount of their cap taken up by guards in the NFL. Rightfully so too, Lang and Sitton are a hell of a combination. Both rank inside the top ten paid guards for this season.

Now lets shift to the defense:

(click to expand the image)

 

Green Bay Packers Positional Salary Cap Rankings
POSITION YEAR NFL
RANK
DL 2014 26
2015 22
LB 2014 2
2015 2
CB 2014 1
2015 20
S 2014 10
2015 6

 

With nice pay bumps to Mike Neal, Datone Jones, and Letroy Guion as well as the addition of Raji's contract back on the books the defensive line has seen a big percentage jump this year in terms of the amount of salary cap used. Going from 5.7 percent up to 9.8 percent. That is still well below the NFC North average and NFL average of roughly 14 percent. Suh leaving the division really helps to even out the percentages for the rest of the NFC North. Even with Suh gone though, the rest of the division's 14 percent dwarfs the 9 percent the Packers are using. This is one area where the Packers are sure to see a spike next year with Mike Daniels playing under an expiring contract this year for a steal at $1.6 million.

Moving to linebackers you start to see where all of the Packers' money is going. With only the Colts spending more money on linebackers this year than the Packers, who ranked second in the NFL for the second straight year. To achieve that second place status the Packers have 20.2 percent of their cap tied up in that position, even without Hawk. The vast majority of that going to Matthews ($12.7 million) and Peppers ($12 million). Next year Peppers still has a $10.5 million cap-hit, which I have to believe will be reworked, but it is a tough thing to ask of him after the season he had last year.

At 13.5 percent it was quite stunning to see that the Packers spent more of their cap on cornerbacks last season than anyone else in the NFL last year. It was even more stunning to see that Tramon Williams was the number four paid corner in the league. With his contract and (to a much lesser extent) Davone House's contract off the books the Packers have essentially cut their cornerback spending in half. Only Sam Shields ($9 million) is making anything much further north of a million dollars. This has put the Packers right now par with the spending done by the rest of the NFC North, the closest of any postion group. At roughly 7.5 percent for the Packers and the rest of the division, it is pretty amazing now much less the division is spending compared to the league average of 9.3 percent. Especially considering the receiving talent that is or was in the division previously. 

For the last two seasons the Packers have been a top ten team in cap spending on safeties. This season their rank jumps from ten to six. The big bump here is Sean Richardson going from half a million dollars to $2.5 million and the addition of Damarious Randall (for now, until settles in at either CB or S). The 8.1 percent of their cap spent on safeties is much higher than the 4.8 percent spent on average for the rest of the division. However the rest of the division has horrible safeties, sans Harrison Smith who is on a rookie deal. 

Putting together the offense and defense you get this:

 

What becomes apparent is just how opposite the Packers are in their spending from the rest of the league, but more so the rest of the division. 

The Packers have spent 38.5 percent of their cap this year on offense, compared to 47.5 percent for the rest of the division. The Vikings are stuck with the poor contracts of Adrian Peterson and Mike Wallace, the Bears are stuck with Cutler's turd of a contract and Forte being the number two paid running back in the NFL, and the Lions have huge contracts in Stafford and Calvin Johnson. Meanwhile, the Packers have spent 9 percent less of their salary cap on offense than the division average and have by far and away the best offense in the division. Despite having a rookie quarterback in his second season, the Vikings have the third highest amount of their salary cap tied up in offense in the NFL.

Conversely, the Packers have spent 45.5 percent of their salary cap this year on defense. Including huge money at linebacker and a fairly high amount at saftey. Compare that to the rest of the division who has only spent 38.6 percent of their salary cap on their defenses, below the 40.6 percent average for the rest of the NFL. It seems the Vikings, Lions, and Bears have all decided to try and score with the Packers instead of trying to stop them from scoring. 

There are a number of ways to divide up your salary cap amongst your team and it seems the Packers have done a good job at keeping the contracts on offense under control. There is no doubt the Packers are a team lead by their offense, despite putting less of their cap into it. To counteract this, the Packers have tried to solve the defensive issues they have had for the majority of the time Capers has been here, at least trying to solve the defensive issues in the playoffs, by throwing money at it the last two years. Signing Peppers is a large part of the money taken up by the defense and at least for one season, it helped, a lot. The Packers weren't a dominant defense last year, but they were certainly better than they had been the two or three years before that. 

Currently the Packers have the 8th most cap room remaining in the league at $15.7 million. I imagine the majority of that will rollover for next season for resiging guys like Mike Daniels. 

All cap numbers for this piece came from Spotrac
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Comments (15)

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Mr.Bigg's picture

June 18, 2015 at 08:12 am

I have been impressed with the way the Pack has been run for many years and this information just points out again how lucky we are as Pack fans.

No Owner. Community Owned (and somehow this socialistic ownership doesn't bother Republicans).

A scouting department that seems to understand that drafting a 22 year old player with a good work ethic will grow into better player than one without the work ethic.

And the players themselves deserve a great amount of acknowledgment- I have to point out that humans are generally "better" people when they are treated with dignity and transparency- but the players are generally people you feel good about caring for. (and Olivia adds an extra special bonus).

I am lucky to follow a team that when I care about them, I don't have to swallow a bunch of bile to do so. GPGo

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croatpackfan's picture

June 18, 2015 at 08:36 am

Very interesting and informative insight into the salary cap situation for Packers. Well done from you Mike, as well as from Packers...

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 18, 2015 at 08:54 am

This is a testament to the genius of TT. Since he clearly drafts better for offense, it is not surprising that he spends less there than the league average. TT simply has more good offensive talent on rookie contracts than most teams. We are getting great deals on Bakh (his salary will go up by at least $6 million per year when he becomes a FA - a reason I have pushed to draft an OT reasonably early). Linsley and Lacy too, of course.

Defense is another matter. TT should consider just buying more help for the D in FA.

Nelson is on his 3rd contract, is he not?

I laughed to myself when people wrote that the Peppers could be cut with only a $5 million hit in dead money. TT rarely has that much dead money for the whole team, much less one player.

Also, of the $3.19 million in dead money, $1.6 million is for Hawk, and $1 million is for Brad Jones.

Kudos for a great article.

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MikeReuter's picture

June 18, 2015 at 12:38 pm

Great point, Nelson is on his third contract.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 18, 2015 at 09:03 am

I am unclear on Raji. Since he went on IR, didn't his whole $4 million contract count last year too, or did he have a split contract?

The % for WR will jump dramatically next season when the Nelson and Cobb contract increase their cap hits by $7.6 million. It is artificially low for 2015.

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MikeReuter's picture

June 18, 2015 at 12:56 pm

I believe that Raji counted $1.4 million against the cap last year. He didn't earn any playing incentives since he didn't play.

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Salvatore Ioppolo's picture

June 18, 2015 at 08:58 am

Amazing analysis!

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 18, 2015 at 12:45 pm

Mike wrote a tremendous article here. For those on Cheesehead who did not read allgbp, some of us have come to use the term "money ball." Adam Czech mentioned the term in 2011, and Jay Hodgson recently wrote an excellent article that I at least think in some ways complements this article (IMO). For those so inclined, I have included a link to Jay's article written last May. I think you'll enjoy it.

Edit: Moneyball more or less means getting good play from guys still on their rookie contracts, not overpaying on 2nd contracts, letting veterans go a year too soon rather than a year too late, for example. I also personally advocate drafting so as to have young talent in the wings at the premium (in terms of cost) positions like CB, OT, WR. For example, I advocated drafting a OT in the last 2 drafts in the mid-rounds so as to replace Bulaga, and now Bakhtiari, where possible.

http://allgbp.com/2015/05/13/ted-thompson-and-the-money-ball-approach-to...

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Jay Hodgson's picture

June 19, 2015 at 06:38 am

Thanks, TGR (I think that is a cool shorthand name).

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Idiot Fan's picture

June 18, 2015 at 03:35 pm

I believe that we have three top-tier lineman all having their contracts up after next year (DBak, Sitton, and Lang I think?). Personally I would like all three back, and I would love to see at least one of them extended this year so as not to have a money crunch after next year. DBak seems like the most likely option - give him a contract that pays him well now so as to avoid FA driving it up a bit.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 18, 2015 at 08:27 pm

Yes, it will be interesting to see what TT does with Sitton and Lang due to their age. Sitton would be 31 and Lang 30 when they hit FA, not really old for O-linemen. They are signed through this season and next. In terms of salary cap hits, both are already very well paid. The only increase would be due to inflation in the cap. That is, Sitton is being paid near elite guard money already (5th highest paid OG). Lang is already paid well too, (12th highest paid). Of course, two full NFL seasons can change a lot of things in terms of injuries and level of play, though I don't expect the latter to be too much of a factor.

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Idiot Fan's picture

June 18, 2015 at 08:49 pm

Good points. TT does have a history of extending some youngsters prior to their FA year for deals that later looked like steals (Rodgers' first, Jordy''s first). I'd love to see the same for DBak.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 20, 2015 at 01:58 pm

Idiot, I have suggested that a good subject for an article would be when and for whom TT extends contracts. There are some difficulties though. I noted that TT did not extend Shields even though Shields publicly requested an extension. The problem is that we don't know if TT spoke with Shields' agent and they were far apart, whether TT actually made an offer that was declined, etc., or the other way around. It would be difficult to know the ins and outs. Still, just a listing of players who were extended would be interesting, and one might be able to glean some sort of insights even if it dealt with age, character, talent in the pipeline, etc.

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Jay Hodgson's picture

June 19, 2015 at 06:36 am

I fear what might happen if we lose two or three of those linemen down the road. Sitton will command a premium contract, and so will Lang. Bakhtiari still has room to grow and a lot to prove, but someone will throw money bags at him if he's allowed to hit the open market.

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The TKstinator's picture

June 18, 2015 at 04:13 pm

Draft and develop.
Identify and retain core players.
Accept the fact that FA will "take" some players away; avoid "bidding wars".

Repeat.

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