Friday, February 01, 2013

2013 Packers Salary Cap: Jennings, Woodson, Hawk and Finley

As Kevin Seifert notes in his recent ESPN article, "Salary cap figures are fluid this time of the year for accounting reasons" so it might be impossible to know the complete picture. While the Packers aren't in a dire salary cap position, unlike some teams, they do have to make some choices within a limited budget.

The first player to feel it's effects may have been WR Greg Jennings, who's seen the writing on the wall and put his Green Bay area home up for sale. While he isn't as critical to the offense as he was a couple years ago, he can still play and he should be a big contributor over the next couple seasons, if he can remain healthy. But he's missed a lot of games over the past couple seasons and he'll turn 30 next season, so his next contract will carry some risks. I can understand why the team would decide to part ways with him but his loss is not insignificant.

The always excellent John Clayton says the Packers have $7.1 million in salary cap space, but that might not be enough to accommodate upcoming extensions for QB Aaron Rodgers and LB Clay Matthews. So Kevin Seifert sees a couple of salary cap moves that may need to be made:
Defensive back Charles Woodson, linebacker A.J. Hawk and tight end Jermichael Finley are scheduled to count a combined $25.8 million against the Packers' 2013 salary cap. Releasing them before June 1 would save $20.5 million, but none of those Big Decisions are simple. 
It's not simple because all three of them can still play, though they might be overpaid and they might not be interested in taking a pay cut. Unfortunately none of them were major contributors in 2012 and they aren't helping improve the offensive line or the defensive front seven. Hawk may arguably be an addition by subtraction since he was part of the unit that struggled badly against the 49ers.

Some of the moves they make this offseason may come back to bite them, but GM Ted Thompson has never avoided difficult choices such choosing Rodgers over Favre. While Jennings is very unlikely to return, I could still see Woodson, Hawk and/or Finley back under the right contract. However, there is a real possibility that none of them return next season.

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