GREEN BAY, Wis. – With almost half the NFL over the COVID-impacted salary cap, the wildest offseason in NFL history is on the horizon.
Defensive lineman Henry Anderson personifies what’s to come and the type of player the Green Bay Packers could add to the roster.
The New York Jets released Anderson on Tuesday, shedding his $8.2 million base salary. With that, the Jets are about $75 million under the salary-cap floor of $180 million.
The Packers are one of 13 teams over that $180 million cap. That’s a lot of teams that will be forced to dump competent players.
“I do think more so than usual,” Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst said on Tuesday. “I think every team right now is kind of sitting in our shoes trying to figure out a way to keep their teams as sound and solid as possible. There’s going to be some tough decisions, hard decisions for a lot of teams, a lot of pain that teams are going to have to go through. So, I do expect there to be more veteran players that are on the market than in years past.”
Anderson is the perfect representation of what might be the veteran merry-go-round. A third-round pick by Indianapolis in 2015, he was traded to the Jets for a seventh-round pick in 2018. Playing in the final year of his rookie deal, Anderson recorded a career-high seven sacks. New York re-signed him to a three-year deal worth $25.2 million. He never got close to matching the pass-rush production, with 1.5 sacks in 29 games the past two seasons.
Still, the 6-foot-6, 300-pounder is a solid player. Last season, he tallied 14 stuffs – defined as a tackle at or behind the line of scrimmage on a running play. From that perspective, he could be a big upgrade for the Packers. Last season, every defensive lineman on Green Bay’s roster had 16 stuffs. Tyler Lancaster had five, followed by Kenny Clark, Kingsley Keke and Montravius Adams with three each, and Dean Lowry with two.
Anderson had more stuffs last year than Lowry had the past two seasons combined.
Lowry has two years remaining on a four-year, $20.325 million contract. In 2021, he is due a $4.1 million base salary. He has cap charges of $6.3 million in 2021 and $7.3 million in 2022. If the Packers released him, they’d save $3.0 million on this year’s cap.
A hypothetical signing of Anderson and release of Lowry could be commonplace around the NFL, with teams looking to upgrade their roster while saving money.
Lowry's price and production notwithstanding, Anderson could be an understated upgrade on the defensive line. Adams, a disappointment as a third-round pick in 2017, is headed to free agency and Lancaster will be a restricted free agent. Having failed to land J.J. Watt, Anderson could be a younger and healthier addition to the defensive front.