Aaron Rodgers and Mason Crosby were scheduled to receive roster bonuses in the amounts of $6.8 million and $1.25 million, respectively, on March 20, 2021. There have been no reports that the Packers converted those bonuses to signing bonuses, or that the payments were delayed. It appears that the players were paid as scheduled. Ken Ingalls indicated that Rodgers’ contract has a provision allowing the Packers to convert his roster bonus to a signing bonus without having to seek permission. I do not know if Crosby has an automatic conversion provision in his contract.
That suggests that the Packers elected to forego generating up to $4.533 million in cap savings from Rodgers and $625,000 from Crosby. It also means Rodgers’ cap number for 2022 will remain the same for now rather than increasing by $2.267 million in 2022 and again in 2023. By extension, it also means Rodgers’ potential dead money charge in 2022 and 2023 is unaffected. Potential is always the key word: it does not become dead money until the player is no longer on the roster. Crosby’s 2022 cap number would have increased from $4.4 million to $5.025 million and his potential dead money charge by a like amount.
That is a positive since the Packers cap situation looks rather alarming for 2022. The Packers currently have 29 players under contract for 2022 at a cost of $202 million, per Overthecap. Adding 22 more players (because the Packers will have at least 51 under contract next March) with 5 at the rookie minimum and 17 at the minimum for players with one credited season increases their total liabilities in 2022 to $219.5 million. That does not include the first year cap hits of the team’s UFAs like Davante Adams, Jaire Alexander, probably Marquez Valdes-Scantling, perhaps Lucas Patrick, and others. It seems likely that the Packers will extend Adams. It seems likely that the Packers will exercise Alexander’s $13.4 million fifth-year option, which must be done by May 3rd.
The Packers still need to generate at least $9 or $10 million to sign their draft picks, and to pay for the practice squad and 52nd and 53rd players. The team will need to generate more cap savings if it wants to sign some of their own free agents (perhaps Marcedes Lewis and others) or sign an outside free agent or two. The Packers can still generate a little over $9 million from a conversion of Rodgers’ base salary to a signing bonus. The team has other options as well.
There have been plenty of articles about what the Packers plan to do with Rodgers in the future. What can be said in the here and now is that the Packers decided not to generate the maximum in cap space possible from Rodgers.
There have been plenty of articles suggesting that the Packers are going all-in this year. It seems more like the team went big on some players and were quite restrained with others. It seems like GM Gutekunst sometimes takes a step to the left and then a step to the right. The things they did with the contract structures (see Turner’s void years) and moving cap around seem overall quite aggressive.
Objectively speaking, so far the Packers have generated $1 million more than the rules require. What they have done that is extra is re-signing Aaron Jones. Letting Corey Linsley walk is something the team might have done regardless since the Packers do not too often re-sign 30-year old offensive linemen with a history of back injuries to third contracts.
The Packers have lost the services of Corey Linsley, Jamaal Williams, Montravius Adams, and Tim Boyle. There has been no news on any attempts to retain Marcedes Lewis, Kevin King, Raven Greene, Tyler Lancaster, and Will Redmond (other than declining to tender those three players as RFAs), Tyler Ervin and Lane Taylor (who has been visiting with other teams). On the other hand, it can be argued that some of those players will be adequately replaced by other players already on the roster or simply won’t be missed. Of course, some, perhaps most, of these players would not cost much more than some player currently on the lower end of the top 51 contracts on the books if the Packers are simply waiting for the players to ascertain their market value. Nevertheless, those players listed in the table below played 4,184 snaps last year that will have to be replaced.
The list does not include Tonyan and Sullivan since the Packers tendered both of them. Yet, even the Packers will not know for sure until as late as April 23 whether they will retain these two players. Other teams can make offers to them up to that date.
So far, the Packers have done the minimum required plus they re-signed Aaron Jones. They will have to generate at least an additional $9 million plus more if they want to sign their own players or outside UFAs. I do not immediately perceive how to generate additional cap space to sign the team’s own free agents or a few outside free agents without exacerbating the 2022 cap other than releasing players.
I suspect that simply restructuring contracts to dump cap hits into 2022 might be no longer feasible. Instead, I expect the Packers to start agreeing to extensions with players to lower cap numbers in 2021 and keep them neutral or at least reasonable in 2022. That means no extension for Jaire Alexander, but quite possibly deals involving Za’Darius Smith, Adrian Amos, Davante Adams, possibly Mason Crosby, potentially Aaron Rodgers, plus a pay cut or other move involving Dean Lowry.
The Packer Tracker has been updated to reflect in detail every move the Packers have made to date.