The Carolina Panthers are 1-4, just fired head coach Matt Rhule, and are expected by many to have a fire sale as they hit the restart button. The Green Bay Packers just so happen to be in need of a boost on offense.
One current Panther that many believe the Packers should have an interest in is wide receiver DJ Moore–and on paper, it makes a lot of sense.
The Packers have battled inconsistency on offense this season, one quarter scoring on multiple drives to all of a sudden struggling to pick up a first down the next.
Romeo Doubs, Allen Lazard, and Randall Cobb have all been able to make plays this season, but not with enough regularity to sustain any steady success on offense. The ups and downs on offense, of course, don’t all fall solely on the receiver position, but it’s part of the equation.
DJ Moore, meanwhile, is in his fifth NFL season out of Maryland and has been a focal point of the Carolina offense for a few years now. From 2019 to 2021, Moore would average 139 targets per season, 82 receptions, 1,175 yards, and four touchdowns while lining up primarily on the boundary.
Certainly, the Packers could use that production, but the financial side of things, specifically the salary cap, makes a trade very challenging.
The 25-year-old Moore signed a three-year extension this summer worth $61.8 million. With a base salary in 2022 of $1.035 million. However, the issue is the following years and the guaranteed money.
In 2023, Moore has a guaranteed salary of $19.96 million and comes with a cap hit of $25.04 million. The cap hit is then $20.92 million in 2024 and 2025, according to Over the Cap.
Green Bay could get out of the deal in 2024 and save a few million dollars, but they would still incur $9.75 million in dead cap, and also, why make the trade to then just release the player less than two years later?
The salary cap is expected to make a big jump in 2023 because of the new TV deal, although we do not know what that figure is at this time. Over the Cap is currently estimating that it will be around $233 million — up from the current $208 million — which would give the Packers about $4.5 million in cap space.
This figure also doesn’t include the new deals that Rashan Gary and Elgton Jenkins will eventually receive–thus eating up that available cap space.
Now, as we all know and have seen, there are ways to create additional cap space, but adding almost $20 million to the books for one player while still needing to round out the roster would be a challenge and, truthfully, very much out of character for Green Bay.
We could also point to the struggles that the Packers have had this season as a reason why they shouldn’t make this trade instead of a reason to make it. As a borderline contender, one could argue that trading away draft capital to try to fix a problem that one player likely can’t solve isn’t the most prudent decision.
GM Brian Gutekunst often says that he wants to be in on every conversation, so I won’t be surprised if we hear that the Packers are somehow linked to Moore. But from a financial perspective, this is a difficult move to pull off.