The Green Bay Packers have already restructured the contracts of three key players in their effort to get under the NFL salary cap. The team must be under the cap number which will be $208.2 million by the start of the new league year which gets under way on March 16.
Offensive tackle David Bakhtiari, running back Aaron Jones and defensive lineman Kenny Clark have already been restructured as the team converted some of the expected salary to signing bonus to lower the 2022 cap hits of those three players.
Here is a look at eight players who the team may either restructure, extend or let go to get under the salary cap before the start of the new league year. All cap numbers are courtesy of spotrac.com.
- QB Aaron Rodgers
Rodgers is the key to how the Packers will handle the rest of the offseason. If Rodgers retires or demands a trade, the Packers approach to 2022 will be very different than if he returns.
Currently, Rodgers has a cap hit of more than $46 million. If Rodgers returns to the Packers, the team will sign him to an extension that will likely include void years. That could reduce Rodgers’ 2022 cap hit by approximately $10 million which would help the Packers a great deal.
- OLB Preston Smith
Preston Smith presently has a cap hit of roughly $19.72 million which is too high a number for the team’s 2021 sack leader. The Packers forced Preston Smith to take a pay cut last season and added void years. He would need to sign an extension to remain a Packer next season.
The Packers are hoping to keep at least one of the Smith Brothers and Preston is likely the easier of the two to sign to a new deal.
- OLB Za’Darius Smith
Za’Darius Smith missed all but one game during 2021 with a back injury although he did return for the playoff game against San Francisco and registered a sack early in that contest.
The problem is that Za’Darius carries a $27.6 million cap hit in 2022 and the Packers cannot afford to keep that deal in place.
Za’Darius could sign an extension with void years to stay in Green Bay, but he would probably be able to make more money if he is released and signs elsewhere.
Releasing Za’Darius would save the Packers roughly $15 million but it would also carry a dead cap hit of $12.38 million.
- S Adrian Amos
Amos remains a consistent safety and consistent performer for the Packers but his current contract gives him a cap hit of almost $12 million. The Packers could lower that number if Amos would agree to an extension or to add void years to his deal and convert some of his salary to signing bonus.
If the Packers decide to release Amos, they will have a dead cap hit of $4.08 million but could save roughly $8 million.
- OL Billy Turner
Turner has given the Packers steady play on the right side of the offensive line for three years since the Packers signed him as a free agent. His 2022 cap hit is scheduled to be $9.1 million. The Packers would love to lower that number and it would benefit the team to extend Turner and add void years to his deal if the former North Dakota State star is willing to do that.
The Packers could also choose to release Turner which would save them about $4 million under the cap but would carry a dead cap hit of approximately $4.9 million.
- DL Dean Lowry
Lowry is coming off his best season in recent memory with five sacks but he carries a cap hit of more than $8 million which is too rich for the Packers.
Lowry could agree to add void years to lower his cap hit or the Packers could choose to let him go which would save them a little more than $4 million in cap space but cost them $3.988 million in dead cap money.
- WR Randall Cobb
The Packers reacquired Cobb last offseason at the behest of Rodgers. He ended up as the team’s fourth receiver for most of the season and caught 28 passes for 375 yards and five touchdowns in 12 games.
Cobb is scheduled to carry a cap hit of more than $9.5 million which is far too high for a role playing receiver. The Packers could simply release Cobb and then re-sign him to more reasonable contract to return. That is likely if Rodgers returns. If Rodgers is gone, Cobb is much less likely to be back in Green Bay.
- CB Jaire Alexander
The Packers are reportedly negotiating an extension with their top cover corner that would lower his current $13.29 million cap hit. The extension will lower his cap hit especially if Alexander agrees to add some voidable years at the end of it.
The Packers want to keep Ja’Money in town and make him one of the cornerstones of the defense for years to come. It would be a win-win for both Alexander and the team if GM Brian Gutekunst can work out a new deal for the former Louisville star.
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