The Packers had been favored to symbolize the NFC within the Tremendous Bowl after ending the season with a 14-3 report and incomes the convention’s No. 1 seed. Nonetheless, they didn’t win their lone playoff sport, dropping 13-10 to the 49ers within the divisional spherical of the 2022 NFL playoffs.
Now, Inexperienced Bay is going through a reckoning, as Aaron Rodgers referenced throughout his postgame information convention.
“I feel this factor is certainly going to look totally different shifting ahead,” Rodgers mentioned, per NFL.com. “Inexperienced Bay has a whole lot of selections, a whole lot of guys with alternatives. So will probably be fascinating to see what issues appear to be shifting ahead.”
Rodgers’ future is chief amongst these selections. He nonetheless has one yr left on his contract in 2022, however he would not assure that he could be again in Inexperienced Bay.
“I do not know,” Rodgers mentioned when requested a couple of potential return to the Packers. “That is a good query. Positively one I’ve thought of.”
However one factor Rodgers is aware of is that he would not wish to return to Inexperienced Bay if the Packers are coming into a rebuild.
“I do not wish to be a part of a rebuild if I’ll maintain enjoying,” Rodgers mentioned. “So a whole lot of selections within the subsequent couple of months.”
Why would possibly the Packers face a rebuild? This is why the Packers could need to face some troublesome roster selections in the course of the 2022 offseason that might influence their standing as an NFC contender.
Packers wage cap 2022
The Packers are going through a salary-cap crunch in 2022 and are going to have to maneuver on from a number of key gamers on account of it. Presently, they’re about $40.1 million over the wage cap, per OverTheCap.com, and that is earlier than re-signing any of their key free brokers or draft picks.
Consequently, the Packers are going to have to search out methods to create salary-cap area. That may contain making some important modifications to their workforce, which is why the workforce will look very totally different, whether or not they deliver Rodgers again to Inexperienced Bay or search to commerce him.
How the Packers can create wage cap area
Under is a run-down of the strategies that the Packers can use to create salary-cap area.
Restructuring or extending participant contracts to decrease their present cap hits
Typically, when NFL groups discover themselves in cap bother, they restructure the contracts of a few of their key gamers to decrease their present-day cap hits. This course of often includes signing a participant to an extension with a big signing bonus, as NFL groups prorate the signing bonus equally over the rest of the deal.
So, whereas the participant could be getting more cash now, the cap cost is not going up. It is simply deferred into equal chunks over future seasons throughout the deal.
That is additionally a part of the rationale that void years have change into a well-liked contract mechanism. A “void yr” is basically a part of a contract that extends cap costs into future years however doesn’t bind the participant to a workforce in that season.
For instance, Rodgers has a void yr on his contract for 2023. That implies that his contract will void earlier than the league yr and he’ll not be on the Packers. Nonetheless, Inexperienced Bay can be left with a $7.7 million lifeless cap hit as a result of his signing bonus, which was renegotiated earlier than the 2021 season, is prorated to that season.
This follow is well liked by gamers, because it permits them to enter free company earlier whereas getting paid extra up entrance, whereas groups prefer it as a result of it frees up extra cap area. And whereas it hurts groups down the street, entrance places of work usually view it as value it as a result of the groups utilizing void years are sometimes Tremendous Bowl contenders.
Commerce or reduce gamers
That is the easier various for the Packers. They are going to nearly definitely have to maneuver on from a minimum of some gamers with excessive cap hits to clear $40 million off the books. They are going to look to try this first by way of commerce, as they will in all probability offload a few of their gifted gamers for draft capital, however those who they cannot will have to be launched as cap casualties.
With any transaction they make, the Packers will, doubtlessly, need to eat lifeless cap area, which is cap area denoted to a participant not on the workforce. This usually stems from assured wage already paid to a participant that has been launched or traded.
Packers restructure, reduce and commerce candidates
The Packers have a handful of gamers that they might want to contemplate both parting with or restructuring to get beneath the cap threshold. Probably the most notable candidates to be moved or restructured are as follows.
QB Aaron Rodgers
Cap financial savings if traded or reduce: $19.8 million
Rodgers stays the apparent candidate to be traded, as shifting on from him would get the Packers midway to their objective of shedding $40 million. Rodgers held out from the Packers final season and demanded a commerce, however he agreed to return to the workforce after a contract restructure.
The Packers could wish to maintain him, however as Rodgers has mentioned, he would not wish to be a part of a rebuild. If the 2 sides see no path towards competition, parting with Rodgers could be a very good begin to clearing some area. Plus, it might give them an opportunity to see if 2020 first-round decide Jordan Love can change into a long-term starter.
WR Randall Cobb
Cap financial savings if traded or reduce: $6.9 million
The Packers traded for Cobb final offseason to deliver the 31-year-old receiver again the place he started his profession. Rodgers needed to play with Cobb as effectively, and that was the most important motive for the transfer.
Cobb caught 28 passes for 375 yards and 5 touchdowns in the course of the season in 12 video games. He is merely a part-time participant now and provided that the Packers can save almost $7 million by shifting on from him, he’ll in all probability be launched this offseason, particularly if Rodgers is gone. The one complicating issue for Inexperienced Bay is the truth that most of their receivers are set to be free brokers, so they could look to restructure Cobb due to that.
OLB Za’Darius Smith
Cap financial savings if traded or reduce: $15.3 million
Smith was a Professional Bowl in 2019 and 2020, however he suffered a again damage that stored him out of all however two video games in 2021. He had a sack within the playoffs towards the 49ers, however the Packers could not be capable to maintain the 29-year-old due to how a lot they might save by parting with him.
Smith is coming into the ultimate yr of the four-year, $66 million contract he signed with the Packers in 2019. Parting with him would save the Packers greater than $15 million and would carry a dead-cap hit of simply $12.4 million. The Packers will in all probability look to get one thing of worth for Smith, or maybe they might get him to conform to a team-friendly extension after a tough yr. Both approach, the Packers have an enormous choice to make about him.
OLB Preston Smith
Cap financial savings if traded or reduce: $12.5 million
Like his counterpart, Smith has been a strong sack artist in Inexperienced Bay. He has racked up 25 sacks for the workforce over three years together with 9 in 2021. Nonetheless, the Packers can save $12.5 million with a dead-cap hit of simply $7.5 million in the event that they transfer on from him.
The Packers in all probability will not wish to transfer on from each of the Smiths, however they could be pressured to maneuver on from a minimum of one whereas restructuring the opposite. The presence of Rashan Gary will make that a better capsule to swallow.
Packers free brokers 2022
The Packers do not simply have to fret about shedding $40 million to get beneath the wage cap. Additionally they have to think about what their plans are in free company. They’ve many gamers set to hit the open market, a few of who they are going to wish to retain.
Specifically, Davante Adams can be accessible and he’ll probably command a deal much like the one which pays DeAndre Hopkins a median wage of $27.5 million. Naked minimal, he can be on the lookout for $20 million a yr.
There are a number of different starters and key function gamers that the Packers have to think about amongst their free-agent class, as you may see beneath.
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* Denotes restricted free agent
The Packers even have a number of unique rights free brokers, who need to re-sign in Inexperienced Bay if the Packers need them to return. This contains beginning linebacker Krys Barnes and tight finish/H-back Dominique Dafney.
Suffice to say, the Packers have a whole lot of selections that they will have to make. They are going to be energetic in the course of the 2022 NFL offseason, very like the Saints had been in 2021 whereas addressing their cap nightmare after Drew Brees’ retirement.