Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Packers 2013 Salary Cap Situation

I see different numbers every time I read an article about the Green Bay Packers' 2013 cap situation, but the basics remain the same. Here's what Bob McGinn wrote back in September:
The way it stands now, there are 20 players under contract to Green Bay for next year [2013] who are to count about $98.36 million. The unadjusted cap for 2012 is $120.6 million, and projections are that the cap will remain almost flat until 2016.
The most notable free agent is WR Greg Jennings, who should receive a similar contract to WR Marques Colston (5 years, $40 million, $19 million guaranteed) from either the Packers or another team. If they really wanted to keep Jennings, they shouldn't have a problem for next year. The big problem is what happens after 2013:

The gorilla in the board room is David Dunn, the agent whose client list includes quarterback Aaron Rodgers, linebacker Clay Matthews and nose tackle B.J. Raji.
Indications are that the Packers would like to have the contracts of all three players extended by early 2013, quite possibly by the start of the National Football League year in early March.

I'm not as concerned about losing Raji. While he was outstanding in 2010 (regular season and postseason) he hasn't been the same player since then. He already has a big cap number of around $5.2 million and his next contract shouldn't be larger, so maybe his next contract could fit into their current cap situation.

Of course, Rodgers and Matthews are a different story, which is why they'll probably get extensions this spring and Jennings will be probably sign somewhere else. Generally, the third contract is the danger zone when players enter their early 30s. Are they going to lose a step? Are injuries going to become a problem?

The Packers also have a couple of well discussed options to create salary cap room. TE Jermichael Finley has been on the hot seat for a while, but I could actually see him accepting a pay cut to remain with the team. We'll know one way or another soon because he'll be a due a $3 million roster bonus in March and it seems unlikely that the Packers would pay it.

Tom Silverstein expects the Packers to release CB Charles Woodson because his $10 million salary cap number is way too expensive. If you were to imagine a worst case scenario, I wouldn't be too worried to see either Jennings or Finley sign with an NFC North rival, but I'd be very concerned about Woodson ending up with the Vikings or Lions. He can still play and would be a significant upgrade for both teams.

The Packers have been unable (or unwilling) to make a big splash in free agency or re-sign all of their free agents (LG Daryn Colledge, DE Cullen Jenkins) over the past couple years, and that trend should continue again. The irreplaceable players are Rodgers and Matthews, so keeping them has to be the priority, and if that costs them Jennings, Finley and Raji then that's the price to be paid. However, I'd like to see them keep Woodson because he can still play and I'd hate to see him on another NFC North team.

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