The Green Bay Packers need to get under the salary cap before free agency begins.
Releasing Christian Kirksey and Rick Wagner put them about $10 million closer to achieving that goal, but the team may have to move on from more players before the new league year kicks off.
Below are four potential cap casualties for the Packers before then.
Note: All cap numbers are according to Over The Cap.
Cap savings: $8 million
Is it possible Preston Smith gets back to his 2019 form next season? Absolutely. But are the Packers willing to risk a $16 million cap hit for the possibility he doesn’t? It’s hard to see that happening.
Green Bay would still pay $8 million in dead cap if it released Smith, which is far from ideal, but in a year with a reduced salary cap, tough decisions have to be made.
Rashan Gary’s performances in 2020 showed why he should be starting opposite Za’Darius Smith moving forward, and the Packers aren’t paying $16 million for a player who might not start every week.
Cap savings: $3.3 million
It was a surprising decision when the Packers gave Dean Lowry a big contract extension in 2019 especially after releasing Mike Daniels quickly followed. It’s fair to say Lowry hasn’t lived up to expectations for a player on such a big deal.
Now, the team might have no choice but to move on. Releasing Lowry would give Green Bay a cap saving of over $3 million.
Cap savings: $1.27 million
Devin Funchess is yet to play a game for the Packers after opting out of the 2020 season. He only played one game in 2019 due to injury so Funchess hasn’t played regular football in almost three years.
Funchess’ low cap hit could mean the Packers bring him to training camp to compete for a spot, but they could also decide to move on now and go in a different direction at receiver.
Cap savings: $1.33 million
Perhaps a switch at defensive coordinator will lead to more snaps for Josh Jackson. But the former second-round pick hasn’t been able to make a big impact yet in Green Bay and was a healthy scratch often late in the season.
With Kevin King a free agent and Joe Barry replacing Mike Pettine at DC, it’s possible Jackson could be given another opportunity. If not, the Packers can save over $1 million.