Salary Cap expected to increase and the Green Bay Packers can surely use it


Clay Matthews celebrates a sack against the Lions in 2010.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

Former Green Bay Packers front office man Andrew Brandt and others have come out tonight to say that it’s expected the National Football League’s salary cap will go up by as much as $3.3 million for this year … that’s good news for all 32 teams, including the Packers.

Jermichael Finley may be a casualty of the salary cap and the need to pay other players.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

While that extra money will place the Packers in excellent position to pay its 2013 draft choices and tender their restricted free agents, one thing is for certain – they won’t be using much of the salary cap increase for signing free agents. Sure, Packers’ GM Ted Thompson may go after one or two bargain basement players on the market, but he’s going to use the extra funds to pay Aaron Rodgers and Clay Matthews.

As it stands, the Packers are around $22 million under the cap with the addition of the 2013 numbers. Not only do the Packers sit nicely under the cap, but figuring out ways to pay Rodgers (who will probably get $20 million-plus per year) and Matthews (who will command around $10 or $11 million per season) becomes a bit easier.

Another thing is for certain – I don’t envy Ted Thompson for what stands in front of him in making this all work, but I also don’t envy him in how he might have to do to get there. To make it all work, it may be necessary for Thompson to part ways with either A.J. Hawk or Jermichael Finley – maybe even both. Eliminating one or both of those players from the mix would certainly make the signing of Rodgers, Matthews – and B.J. Raji as well – much simpler. But it also places the team in jeopardy of losing veteran leadership. The Packers have already lost Donald Driver and Jeff Saturday to retirement, have released Charles Woodson, and will most likely lose WR Greg Jennings to free agency.

However, it’s become ever more apparent that Hawk and Finley must go.

A.J. Hawk may be a victim of the salary cap.

Raymond T. Rivard photograph

I’ve posted the past few days that the Packers should part ways with either A.J. Hawk or Jermichael Finley – probably both. Eliminating both salaries would bring the Packers about $13 million that could be used toward the signing of the big three.

The two veterans should be let go not only because of salary cap concerns, but because of other on- and off-field intangibles that are a detriment to the team. Sometimes in order to save the many, it’s time to sacrifice the few. In this case, Hawk and Finley should be either released or traded. It will make all of the necessary signings less painful and allow the Packers to throw more money toward the paying of the big three on the front end of their contracts. By allocating as much as they can early in the contracts, the Packers won’t  fall into the same traps other teams have on the back ends of their stars’ contracts. What happens is that in order to stay under the cap and continue to pay the high salaries of their stars, they have to clean house.

Yes, the addition of the 2013 salary cap money will help the Packers carry out those contracts, but it won’t be enough to do all that the Packers would like. That will take the sacrifice of Hawk and Finley.

Only then will the Packers have the flexibility to move on comfortably.