Packers bring back Kevin King while still taking steps to clear salary-cap space
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers are treating free agency like a team that feels it has the talent to win a Super Bowl.
They are making sure as many players as possible return from a team that has gone to back-to-back NFC championship games.
That might not sit well with fans who want them to sign other teams' free agents. But it continues to be general manager Brian Gutekunst's priority as evidenced by his latest move to re-sign starting cornerback Kevin King.
According to a source, the Packers agreed to terms on a one-year, $6 million free-agent deal with King, an unrestricted free agent, that assures they will have their entire secondary back from a year ago.
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It’s the latest in a series of moves Gutekunst has made to retain his players while at the same time managing a tight salary cap. The Packers were less than $1 million under the salary cap at the end of last week, but they made two more moves to reduce their salary cap by $4.468 million.
The Packers continued their practice of converting salary and roster bonuses to signing bonuses to spread some of the salary-cap charge from ’21 to future years. The latest moves involved reducing safety Adrian Amos’ cap charge from $9.55 million to $6.42 million and kicker Mason Crosby’s from $4.5 million to $3.16 million for a combined savings of $4.468 million.
That should leave the Packers more than $5 million under the cap pending the King deal, which more than likely won't use up all that space.
They still have not touched quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ contract, which has the potential to clear up to $9 million if they don’t add any years to it. The Packers may be saving Rodgers’ deal for conversion in case they decide to add a pricey free agent.
There is still the likelihood they will sign receiver Davante Adams to a long-term contract extension that could reduce his salary-cap number around $8 million or so.
King has had trouble staying healthy over the first four years of his career, missing 23 of a possible 64 regular-season games, but when he has been healthy he has been capable of matching up with top receivers, allowing former defensive coordinator Mike Pettine to play man coverage whenever he wanted.
"Maaan, God is good," King tweeted. "Feeling blessed for the fam and excited about the opportunity."
King’s best asset has been preventing long completions. He allowed five completions of 20 or more yards and was half responsible for just one reception of 40 yards during the regular season. He did not allow a touchdown completion during the regular season.
On the other hand, he had no interceptions, just five pass breakups and gave up two touchdowns in the NFC championship game loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also had an unacceptable 12 missed tackles during the regular season.
The Packers started the offseason with cornerback Jaire Alexander and safeties Amos and safety Darnell Savage under contract. They subsequently submitted a $2.133 million restricted free agent tender to allow them to match any offer corner Chandon Sullivan might receive before agreeing to terms with King.
The Packers have also retained running back Aaron Jones and tight end Robert Tonyan, both of whom had expiring contracts. Tonyan is still eligible to shop himself around, but because the Packers offered him a one-year deal worth $3.384 million, another team would have to give up a second-round pick if the Packers didn’t match their offer.
Since the start of the offseason, the Packers have reduced their cap through the process of converting salary into signing bonuses by $28 million. The players whose contracts they’ve changed are left tackle David Bakhtiari, outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith and Preston Smith, guard Billy Turner, receiver Devin Funchess, Amos and Crosby.
In the case of Amos, who has two years left on his deal, the Packers converted all but $990,000 of his $4.5 million base salary into a signing bonus and added three voidable years, allowing them to spread the $3.91 million over five years for salary cap purposes.
In the case of Crosby, who also has two years left on his deal, the Packers converted $1.675 million of his base salary and roster bonus and added three voidable years, allowing them to spread the money over five years for salary cap purposes. Crosby’s base salary is now $1.075 million and he is guaranteed his $1.25 million roster bonus.