Green Bay Packers Positioning Themselves to Make Another Addition

Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst talks on the phone during practice on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in Ashwaubenon, Wis.Gpg Packerspractice 091218 Abw158
Green Bay Packers GM Brian Gutekunst talks on the phone during practice on Wednesday, September 12, 2018 in Ashwaubenon, Wis.Gpg Packerspractice 091218 Abw158 /

This may not be what going “all-in” looks like to some, but it’s clear — and has been for a while — that the Green Bay Packers are all-in on the 2021 season.

Despite facing a shrunken salary cap this offseason, for the most part, the Packers were able to keep the 2020 roster together here in 2021. The only major loss in free agency was Corey Linsley–otherwise, just about everyone else is returning.

In order to accomplish this, it took pushing a large amount of cap charges to future years–particularly 2022. In order to keep everyone that they did while still making a few additions, Green Bay had to restructure a number of contracts this offseason.

By converting portions of base salaries and/or roster bonuses to signing bonuses, the players got more money upfront, and it also lessened their current cap hits by allowing the Packers to spread those cap charges out over the life of the contract rather than incurring the full cap hit in 2021.

And if there weren’t enough additional years on the deal to push those charges too, then Green Bay added voided years to the contract, which on paper adds years to the deal, thus allowing the team to spread the cap hit out even further, and as a result, lowering it in the current calendar year.

However, in reality, the contract is still up on its original date, and when that time comes, those cap charges pushed into future years accelerate and come due at that time. Basically, this is the textbook definition of kicking the can down the road.

According to Ken Ingalls, the Packers’ salary cap guru on Twitter, Green Bay has pushed $26.8 million worth of cap charges from 2021 to 2022. And at the moment, the Green Bay Packers are $50.81 million over the projected 2022 salary-cap figure, according to Over the Cap.

Add that with the uncertainty surrounding Aaron Rodgers’ future with the Green Bay Packers beyond this season — meaning that he is likely gone — and there are going to be a lot of changes coming next offseason.

And, of course, GM Brian Gutekunst knows this. He knows that Rodgers could, and likely will be traded, he knows that Davante Adams may not re-sign, and he knows that there will be a lot of difficult roster decisions to make. This is why this team has gone to such extreme financial lengths this offseason and made those “concessions” to Rodgers–2021 is their best opportunity to win a Super Bowl and really is shaping up to be a “Last Dance” for this particular group of players.

Now, that isn’t to say they can’t or won’t be successful in 2022; I’m not saying that at all. But it will be different, and odds are that they won’t be nearly as good.

So, as a result of all of the financial gymnastics and maneuvers that took place this offseason, the Green Bay Packers have $13.28 million in available cap space for the 2021 season after Randall Cobb’s restructure. This figure does not yet include Dennis Kelly’s contract, or the 52nd and 53rd players on the roster, or the practice squad, but even when those expenses are accounted for, Green Bay is going to have a decent amount of cap space available to make another move–whether that be a free agent signing or a trade before the deadline.

Perhaps there is another player out there that Rodgers will want the team to target at some point. Or after addressing the receiver, linebacker, and offensive tackle positions this offseason, adding to the interior defensive line would be the next logical move. Or maybe they look for veteran cornerback help to bolster their depth at that position. Or maybe defensive coordinator Joe Barry has an entirely different position to target.

When it comes to the interior defensive line specifically, a few names to know that are still on the free-agent market include Jurrell Casey, Damon Harrison, and Kawann Short–none of which will break the bank. Geno Atkins is also a free agent, although he may cost a bit more.

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While we don’t know when the Green Bay Packers would add another player to the mix or who they would target, we do know two things: one is that they have the cap space, and two is that they are all in on the 2021 season and know that there will be some financial pain in 2022–regardless of whether or not they make another move. And just like 2+2=4, add those two factors together, and you get another addition to this team that hopefully helps propel Green Bay to the Super Bowl.