GREEN BAY, Delete. – JJ Watt or no JJ Watt, the Green Bay Packers have work to do to get below the salary ceiling by March 17th.
The exact limit for 2021 hasn’t been announced yet, but as things stand today, the Packers are near $ 20 million to $ 25 million above where they should be on March 17, when the top 51 contracts on rosters should fall below. are the hat. The limit may not drop below $ 175 million this season, but there is some evidence that it may be slightly higher (about $ 180 million). The Packers also have some unused 2020 cap space to transfer, meaning each team’s hard cap is actually different.
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The Packers already created $ 8.304 million in salary cap last week when they converted David Bakhtiari’s $ 11.072 million selection bonus into a signing bonus, allowing them to split it over four years for cap purposes.
They’ll almost certainly do the same with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and owe his $ 21.5 million in base salary ($ 14.7 million) and roster bonus ($ 6.8 million in March). A more comprehensive restructuring of Rodgers’ deal – which could fulfill his desire to have more than just year-to-year certainty – could also play out. Receiver Davante Adams, whose deal runs after this season, could also give the Packers some cap savings if he signed an extension.
Other players likely not in danger of release but have significant roster bonuses for March include pass-rusher Za’Darius Smith ($ 5 million), security Adrian Amos ($ 1.5 million), kicker Mason Crosby ($ 1.25 million) and security guard Billy Turner ($ 1 million). But they all have only two years to go with their deals, so the salary cap savings the Packers would achieve by converting those roster bonuses into signing bonuses would overtake them at their 2022 limit.
With that in mind, here’s a look at the players general manager Brian Gutekunst might consider releasing:
Why would you keep it?If the Packers don’t draw Watt, then there are only two proven pass rushers – Za’Darius Smith and Rashan Gary. And Gary has only just begun to prove that he was worthy of the No. 12 overall pick in 2019 by his game late last season. New defensive coordinator Joe Barry may be less likely to drop Preston into cover as much as Mike Pettine last season, which didn’t seem to fit Preston’s strengths.
Why cut it off?Za’Darius backed his performance in 2019 with another double-digit pocket season in 2020 (and drew double teams with the second highest percentage of all edge rushers behind Watt, according to ESPN Stats & Information). But Preston’s bag total dropped from 12 to 4, and his pressure nearly halved (26 to 14). It dropped from 21.6% to 12.6% in ESPN’s Pass Rush Win Rate from 2019 to 2020. At some point, the Packers will want to increase Gary’s reps.
Financial consequences: The Packers would save $ 8 million in pay room if they cut it now. That number would jump to $ 12 million if they identified it as a June 1 release. He owes a roster bonus of $ 4 million on the third day of the competition year, which begins March 17.
Prediction: Cut (if they draw Watt). Restructuring (if they don’t sign Watt).
Why would you keep it?: The Packers don’t have an overly experienced man in the middle of their defense. Two rookies, Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin, ranked Nos. 2 and 3 in snaps played between inside-backers behind Kirksey. He showed flashes of big plays with two interceptions, two sacks and three pass break ups.
Why cut it off?He was signed in part because of his familiarity with Pettine’s plan from their time with the Browns. Injuries remained a problem – he missed five games due to a chest injury – after playing just nine games in his last two seasons in Cleveland.
Financial consequences: The Packers would gain $ 6 million in cap space whether they cut it now or after June 1.
Prediction: To cut.
Why would you keep it?: He’s reliable – he hasn’t missed a game since his rookie season (2016) – and played the second most snaps among defensive linemen last season with 697 (just four less than Kenny Clark).
Why cut it off?: His production has not increased significantly since signing a three-year extension of $ 20,325 million in 2019. They have cheaper options in Kingsley Keke and Tyler Lancaster (a limited free agent).
Financial consequences: The Packers would gain $ 3.3 million in cap space (or $ 4.8 million if they settled after June 1).
Prediction: To cut.
Why would you keep it?Bakhtiari is unlikely to be ready for the regular season opener due to the torn ACL he sustained in the final week of the regular season. The Packers need a veteran option on the right tackle if they plan on leaving Turner in Bakhtiari’s left tackle spot until he’s ready to go.
Why cut it off?Wagner was usable against the middle teams, but when it came to taking on elite rushers – like the Bucs’ Shaq Barrett in the NFC title game – he struggled.
Financial consequences: The Packers would save $ 4.25 million in cap space whether they cut it down now or after June 1.
Prediction: To cut.
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