GREEN BAY, Wis. – A picture is worth a thousand words. In this case, the picture is a graphic. The story it tells is the Green Bay Packers are “all in” on winning the Super Bowl this year.
OverTheCap.com’s Jason Fitzgerald put together the graphic below. On one axis, it’s the annual contract value of the players on the team in 2021. On the other axis, it’s the available salary-cap space for 2022.
“The bottom right are the teams who are all in,” Fitzgerald wrote. “They have high-valued rosters and below-average cap space. The Packers, Saints and Cowboys are the three who clearly are the most (all in) on this season. The Vikings and Cardinals also both sneak in here and are two teams that should have a ton of pressure to deliver. Arizona, in particular, has the makings of a team that could make in season changes if things fall apart. The Chiefs, Texans, 49ers, Browns, Bills, Bucs, Titans, and 49ers are all here.”
The Packers’ 2021 contracts total $229.0 million. That’s the sixth-highest level of spending in the NFL. Meanwhile, the Packers are a league-worst $42.3 million over the 2022 salary-cap ceiling of $208.2 million.
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Accounting tricks can take care of some of next year’s deficit. That’s what general manager Brian Gutekunst resorted to this past offseason in hopes of making one more run at a Super Bowl. While he was unable to re-sign All-Pro center Corey Linsley, he retained running back Aaron Jones and dug his way out of a deep salary-cap hole by restructuring numerous contracts. The last of those was that of quarterback Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers’ 2021 cap charge went from $37.2 million to $27.9 million, giving the Packers some badly needed flexibility for this season. However, his 2022 cap charge swelled from $39.8 million to $46.1 million, making a big problem even bigger.
Next offseason, accounting tricks probably can’t take care of all the problem. Some key players – perhaps even Rodgers – likely will have to be released. Some key players – perhaps receiver Davante Adams – will be allowed to leave in free agency because they’re unaffordable.
In calling this a “championship or disappointment season,” Rodgers two weeks ago said, “Look, I think we all know what’s at stake. I talked about that a little bit the other day about perspective and how important that perspective is to focus on this season and enjoy the most out of this season, because there are a lot of unknowns. Davante, Marquez, Allen (Lazard, who will be a restricted free agent), Bobby (Tonyan), Marcedes (Lewis), some guys up front, guys on defense. They jumped through some hoops to get under the cap this year.”