With the scouting combine and free agency right around the corner, it’s time to evaluate the Green Bay Packers’ salary cap situation.
With Ted Thompson as the general manager, free agent spending was too sporadic for many inside Packer Nation. When Thompson did spend he usually got results. Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett and Julius Peppers are players that fit right in to the Packers system and produced.
There were also the misses. Marquand Manuel seemed like a good acquisition, but that signing amounted to very little. Most recently, Martellus Bennett’s signing was thought to be a huge boost to the offense. Well, we all know how that one turned out.
Enter new general manager Brian Gutekunst, a longtime scout with the organization who now gets his shot at running the Packers.
Many in Packer Nation are hoping for a more aggressive approach from the new GM. The roster has holes to fill with draft capital to fill them. But it will be his activity in free agency that will draw the most eyes.
Where the Packers sit
The Packers have approximately $17.10 million in cap space, according to Over The Cap.
With seven of their own picks and an extra seventh via a 2016 trade, the Packers currently hold eight selections. This does not include compensatory picks. The Packers expected to get the max amount awarded of four, bringing the total number of projected picks to 12.
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Signing those picks will take approximately $8.8 million (Over The Cap), cutting the remaining cap space in half. That number also does not include compensatory picks since they are yet to be determined.
I do not expect Green Bay to use all 12 picks. If there ever was a time to to trade up, it is now. It would be expensive to move up in the first round but, adding an extra second- or third-round pick could be a possibility.
Moving around in those rounds does not cost as much draft capital and can still bring in core players.
For the sake of this evaluation, we’ll keep that number at $8.8 million. That means the Packers will have roughly $8.3 million in cap space to spend in free agency.
To a person that’s a lot of money. But in the world of the NFL that’s not much to work with.
With holes at edge rusher, corner and tight end that number looks even smaller.
Where could they spend
Top-end edge rushers and corners are expected to get about $10 million a year, give or take a million. Without knowing if the contracts will be front or back loaded, it’s hard to say how much of a cap number that would be for the year 2018. Just by looking at that number as is, it would seem the Packers don’t have the space to sign a top-rated CB or edge rusher.
With contract maneuvering space can be created.
Tight end might be an area in which Green Bay could spend. According to Spotrac, Jimmy Graham has a market value of around $6.7 million per year. That number as is, could easily fit into the Packers’ budget. That’s not saying the Packers should sign Graham, I’m just trying to give you an idea of what the numbers look like.
There are moves that can made to give the team more cap space.
Without a move or two the Packers will not have much room for free agents.
Heading into free agency, two likely scenarios are: 1) adding one top-rated FA in an area of need and filling other holes in the draft or 2) using the lower-tier of free agency to provide depth behind draft picks.
Of course, it could be Groundhog Day and the new GM could be much like the previous one and sit this one out.