One comparison that was made by Tom Silverstein was to the Ravens, who are carrying $7.5 million of dead money on their cap, but the players who caused these charges (LB Ray Lewis, C Matt Birk, WR Anquan Boldin) all helped them win a Super Bowl. In particular, they probably wouldn't have even made it to the Super Bowl without Boldin, who had a monster playoff run.
Another team of note was the Oakland Raiders, who have around $40 million in dead money on their 2013 cap, but all those dead charges probably won't hurt them, even after releasing their last mistake:
#Raiders finally cut LB Rolando McClain and will spread out the $7.26 million dead-money salary-cap hit over two seasons.While the Raiders have zero room to maneuver in free agency, it's arguably that they made their team better this offseason. In the loss column, they've traded QB Carson Palmer, and watched several players sign elsewhere quickly, sometimes for big money, after they've hit free agency or been released (DE Matt Shaughnessy, P Shane Lechler, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, S Michael Huff, LB Philip Wheeler, DT Desmond Bryant, TE Brandon Myers). Those are some good players but the Raiders were still awful with them last season.
— Vic Tafur (@VicTafur) April 5, 2013
The plus column for Raiders isn't awe inspiring, but QB Matt Flynn should be better than Palmer (and his cost in draft picks was minimal) while free agent signings Nick Roach and Kevin Burnett could outplay what the Raiders got last season from Wheeler and McClain at linebacker.
My whole point is that there isn't just one way to improve a team and the Packers' clean salary cap isn't helping them much next season. Even with all the salary cap room the Packers have available, nearly $18 million currently, they couldn't keep the players they wanted to keep (WR Greg Jennings, TE Tom Crabtree), and despite all the salary cap problems for the Raiders, they've probably improved their team anyway. The fact that Raiders' GM Reggie McKenzie wants them to be more like the Packers doesn't make this offseason's free agency disappointments any easier for the Packers.