GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers have cleared $11.4 million in salary-cap space for next year by guaranteeing a portion of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ $19.5 million roster bonus due in March.
According to ESPN, the Packers guaranteed $14.26 million of Rodgers’ roster bonus, which allows them to spread the charge for that amount over five years, including the 2019 season.
The maneuver would seem to indicate they won’t sign one of their top players, such as nose tackle Kenny Clark or linebacker Blake Martinez, to an extension before the season ends. The deadline for applying money from a contract extension or moving money from future years of an existing contract into the ’19 cap is Saturday at 3 p.m.
The Packers reduced their amount of available cap space this year, which is a sign they don’t have any blockbuster deals coming up before the deadline.
The $14.26 million the Packers guaranteed is paid to Rodgers immediately.
Money that is guaranteed can then be prorated for salary-cap purposes over the length of the contract. Rodgers has four years remaining on his deal, but since the Packers guaranteed the money before Saturday, they can apply the $14.26 million charge over this year plus the next four years.
Thus, $2.85 million will be subtracted from their 2019 salary cap, which, according to the NFL Players Association website, showed them as being $8.9 million under the cap as of Friday. The 2019 cap total won’t be set until charges from bonuses and incentives are applied after the season.
If there is money left over, the Packers can roll it into their 2020 cap.
The $11.4 million taken off the 2020 cap should give them some room to negotiate deals during the offseason for free agents such as Martinez, tackle Bryan Bulaga, kicker Mason Crosby, cornerback Tramon Williams and outside linebacker Kyler Fackrell.
It also could help with negotiations the Packers are certain to have with Clark, who has one year left on his deal but is in line for a huge payday if he reaches free agency in 2021. Thus, the Packers will try to get a deal done before then.
Because the Packers kept the total they guaranteed relatively small, it shouldn’t have any bearing on Rodgers in his final years. If it were a major restructure, Rodgers’ cap number might have risen so high that the Packers would have to consider cap ramifications in evaluating him later.