GREEN BAY, Wis. – The Green Bay Packers could have released defensive tackle Dean Lowry next week and created about $4.8 million of badly needed cap space. Instead, they restructured his contract this week in the latest credit-card approach to fielding a team in 2021.
By reducing his $4.1 million base salary to the league minimum, turning the difference into signing bonus and adding three void years to his contract, the team reduced his cap charge from $6.3 million to about $3.8 million, creating just shy of $2.5 million of cap space.
Why? Why not move on from a solid but hardly spectacular starter?
“Dean comes to work every day. He does everything you ask him to do,” defensive line coach Jerry Montgomery said on Wednesday.
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Defensive line is hardly the team’s strength. Kenny Clark is coming off a disappointing season and Kingsley Keke occasionally flashed but didn’t provide consistent impact. The only addition to the unit was T.J. Slaton, a fifth-round pick after an underwhelming career at Florida.
So, general manager Brian Gutekunst figured that some impact from Lowry is better than no impact at all, even if his 2022 cap number is up to $7.92 million and he’ll count $1.87 million even when not on the roster in 2023.
“I would say we didn’t have the greatest start last year,” Montgomery said, citing the lack of offseason practices as a possible reason. However, Montgomery liked how Lowry was trending.
“Dean made great progress,” he continued. “That Tampa game at the end of the year, him and Kenny inside dominated that line of scrimmage. I know the outcome wasn’t what we wanted but he was trending in the right direction there at the end of the year, exactly where we want him to be. If he can start the way he finished the year off, we’ll be heading in the right direction. Love his effort. He’s a great teammate and the guy just comes to work every single day like you’re supposed to.”