Packers’ salary cap situation entering 2021 free agency

Green Bay Packers, Brian GutekunstGpg Packerspractice 091218 Abw158
Green Bay Packers, Brian GutekunstGpg Packerspractice 091218 Abw158 /

The new league year and free agency will begin next month but before then, the Green Bay Packers have a lot of work to do with their salary cap.

While the salary cap number for 2021 hasn’t been announced yet, the expectation is it will drop from last year due to the pandemic. That puts the Packers, like many other teams, in a tough spot.

According to Spotrac, the Packers project to be almost $22 million over the cap in 2021. That assumes the salary cap will sit at $185 million.

While not the worst cap situation in the league — the New Orleans Saints need to clear $70 million to get under the cap — it’s far from ideal.

If the Packers have plans to re-sign a top free agent like Aaron Jones or Corey Linsley, or sign outside free agents, they will first need to get under the cap, which will potentially mean making tough roster decisions.

One way of freeing up cap room is to release players.

Using Over The Cap’s calculator, two players that immediately come to mind are Preston Smith and Christian Kirksey. Both players underperformed in 2020 and releasing them would save over $13 million. Other moves could include releasing Rick Wagner or Dean Lowry, but they wouldn’t save as much room and could hurt the depth at important positions.

How about restructuring contracts?

One way to show Aaron Rodgers the team plans to go all-in while he’s still the quarterback would be to restructure his deal. Over The Cap estimates a restructure could save around $14.5 million on the 2021 cap. Similar moves could be done with David Bakhtiari and Za’Darius Smith.

A risk, yes, as it pushes more money into future caps, but it’s an easy way to make more room for 2021. And if we assume the salary cap will jump back up next year, it makes more sense to push money into a year when more money will become available.

A long way over the cap as things stand, the Packers have work to do in the coming weeks.