When it comes to the Green Bay Packers and 2022 cap space, it’s a frightening story.
Per Overthecap.com, the Packers are approximately $33.5 million over the salary cap when it comes to effective cap space. That is the NFL’s second-worst cap situation when only taking money into account.
Brian Gutekunst has already restructured the contracts of Kenny Clark and Aaron Jones. Here are four more moves that will certainly help create room.
Extend Jaire Alexander
Alexander is entering his fifth year in the league and is one of the league’s best cornerbacks. His base salary is also north of $13 million, so, it can be manipulated like Smith’s and Cobb’s salaries.
Elite corners are so hard to find in this league. Especially homegrown ones. That is why it’s almost a no-brainer to extend Alexander.
Spotrac.com currently has Alexander valued at $15.8 million per year. Following that number, let’s say the Packers give him a four-year, $63.2 million deal that matches his estimated market value. Green Bay could turn $30 of the $63.2 million into a signing bonus prorated over the five years of his new contract, drop Alexander’s $13.294 million base salary to the league minimum of $1.035 million, and then add the remaining $12.259 million to the signing bonus. In all, the bonus would be $42.259 million over five years.
That drops Alexander’s cap hit from $13.3 million in 2022 to a little less than $9.5 million, saving the Packers close to $4 million when it’s all said and done.
Locking up young talent while saving money at the same time? Who says no to that?
Extend Za’Darius Smith
I also have no clue as to what either party is thinking, so we will leave it at that.
If there is mutual interest in Smith’s return, then extending him is a no-brainer. He’ll be 30-years-old when the season rolls around and is entering the last year of the deal he signed back in 2019. As of right now, Smith is slated to count approximately $27.6 million against the cap in 2022.
The Packers can create a little over $15 million in cap space if he’s released or traded. But, they can also create cap space by extending him. Smith racked up 26.0 sacks over his first two seasons with the team before back surgery forced him to miss all but 18 snaps during the 2021 regular season.
Finding quality pass rushers in the NFL is hard and based off Smith’s postseason performance against San Francisco, it didn’t look like he lost much of a step.
Extending Smith would allow the Packers to drop his base salary to $1.12 million and push the remaining $13.3 million over however many years. Let’s say it’s a three-year extension: The Packers would create around $10 million in cap space by spreading the aforementioned $13.3 million over 2022-2025.
Parting ways with a player after one missed season due to injury seems a bit preemptive and shortsighted, but hey, you gotta do what you gotta do when your $35+ million over the cap.
But releasing Smith isn’t the only option and the Packers should certainly look into the option of keeping him around for a few more years, at least.
Restructure Randall Cobb
It seems like Aaron Rodgers is going to be back in 2022, so it’s logical to assume that Cobb will return, as well. After all, Rodgers demanded that Brian Gutekunst trade for him last summer. It’s hard to envision the Packers risking pissing off Rodgers through cutting Cobb.
That means Cobb will either get extended or restructured due to the fact that 2022 is the last year on his deal. The latter scenario is the most likely of the two. He’s slated to count approximately $9.5 million against the cap, but a little over $7.8 million of that is base salary, which means it can be manipulated.
A restructure would make sense based off Cobb’s age and the fact that 2023 is a void year that will cost the Packers $1.3 million in cap space. Gutenkust could drop Cobb’s salary to $1.12 million in 2022, tack on another void year, and turn the remaining $6.7ish million into a signing bonus. That would spread the $6.7ish million over three seasons and save the Packers around $4.5 million in 2022.
Green Bay could save the full $7.8 million by releasing Cobb, but that will likely be predicated on whether or not Rodgers returns. Either way, the Packers aren’t hamstrung when it comes to Cobb and his contract and that’s a good thing.
And of course, there are roster cuts that can be made. Below are the most logical cuts to make that don’t include any of the aforementioned players. The dollar amount to the right indicates the approximate cap savings:
- OLB Preston Smith – $12,470,588
- G Billy Turner – $3,359,412
- K Mason Crosby – $2,395,000
- TE Marcedes Lewis – $2,445,000
Obviously, these aren’t the only moves that can be made. There are multiple angles when it comes to a GM’s ability to navigate an NFL roster. But, these three moves are logical/realistic and will go a long way in helping the Packers clear some cap space.
Featured image via-Samantha Madar/USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin/USA TODAY NETWORK