Green Bay Packers updated salary cap situation after free agency moves

Dec 13, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back James Starks (44) during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 28-7. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports
Dec 13, 2015; Green Bay, WI, USA; Green Bay Packers running back James Starks (44) during the game against the Dallas Cowboys at Lambeau Field. Green Bay won 28-7. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports /

Free agency has been quiet for the Green Bay Packers, but there have been changes to the salary cap.

Keeping talent in house is the mantra in Green Bay, and this offseason has been no different. The Packers have avoided bringing in outside free agents, instead sticking to re-signing their own with new deals for the likes of James Starks, Letroy Guion and Nick Perry.

Every deal has an impact on the salary cap. How has the Packers’ been affected? Here’s all of the latest numbers, per Spotrac.

Active contracts: $152,556,389
Top 51 contracts: $149,406,389
Dead cap: $676,427
Total (All): $153,232,816
Total (Top 51 + Pool): $156,195,161
Total (Top 51): $150,082,816
Est. Cap Space (All): $10,206,473
Est. Cap Space (Top 51 + Pool): $7,244,128
Est. Cap Space (Top 51): $13,356,473

A number that stands out there is the minimal dead cap fee — the Packers are paying the fifth-fewest amount of dead money in 2016. This is due to a run of strong drafts followed with keeping talent in house. By keeping the salary cap healthy with young talent, the Packers aren’t forced to make ‘cap casualties’ each year.

In contrast, the New Orleans Saints are paying a league-high $31.31 million in dead cap. That’s almost a fifth of their cap being spent on players no longer on their roster. The Lions’ second biggest cap hit is Calvin Johnson ($12.91 million), but he has retired and is no use to the team.

James Starks

Starks re-signing was hardly surprising, especially after the likes of Matt Forte were taken off the board. The Packers like to keep their own in house and Starks still has plenty to offer in the backfield.

Bringing him back to Green Bay for another two years required a $6 million deal. In 2016, Starks’ cap hit is a modest $2.25 million before rising to $3.75 million in 2017. However, should the Packers decide to move on from Starks following the 2016 season, they will save $3 million on the cap and pay a $750,000 dead cap fee.

It’s a short-term, cheap deal for the Packers and one they can easily bail out of after a year.

Letroy Guion

On the surface, signing Guion to a three-year deal worth $11.05 million seemed strange. When you break down the salary cap implications, it makes sense. Guion is only guaranteed $500,000 and his contract is largely incentive based. Due to this, his cap hit is modest and the Packers can get out of the deal easily after 2016.

The cap charge in 2016 is $3.52 million, $3.67 million in 2017 and $3.72 million in 2018. If Green Bay decides to cut him after this season, they will be hit with a dead cap charge of just $333,334.

Nick Perry

There isn’t any risk in the re-signing of Nick Perry, who has one year to prove he deserves a long-term deal. The Packers decided to take the entire cap charge this year, which is $4.93 million. My only problem with this is they weren’t able to spread the money over multiple years and are landed with almost $5 million charged to the cap on a player who has struggled to stay healthy.

The Packers were smart with this contract, however. Due to Perry’s injury history, a large chunk of his money will be earned by featuring in games. Perry will receive $62,500 per game in bonus. This is a smart way of reducing the risk of the signing.

Mason Crosby

Crosby is now the third-highest paid kicker in the league, but it’s still comfortable for the Packers. His cap hit in 2016 is just $2.4 million, although this rises to as much as $5.25 million in 2018. Bringing him back required paying him what he’s worth. After so much success in Green Bay, Crosby deserved his payday.

Lane Taylor

There’s a strong chance Taylor is viewed as a future starter. T.J. Lang and Josh Sitton are both free agents next year, and bringing both back likely won’t happen. Taylor could be a man to step in for 2017, and his two-year deal indicates the Packers agree.

Taylor’s cap charge in 2016 is just $1.46 million before rising to $2.7 million in 2017. If he starts in 2017 and puts in a strong season, he’ll require a longer-term, more lucrative offer. The Packers like what they have in Taylor but aren’t taking any financial risks on him at this stage.

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