Packers get some salary-cap relief for this season, but 2022 looks troublesome
GREEN BAY - The Green Bay Packers might have big salary-cap worries next year, but they have plenty of room to operate after restructuring quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ contract and gaining about $10 million in cap room.
Even with the trade for receiver Randall Cobb and the signing of tackle Dennis Kelly, the Packers are about $12.6 million under the cap.
If they can convince wide receiver Davante Adams to sign an extension, the added cap space will allow them to place a nice chunk of his future salary-cap charges into this year, thereby not piling onto the already troublesome 2022 cap.
The Packers managed to keep Cobb’s salary-cap hit this season low by adding a voided year onto the two years he had remaining on the deal he signed with the Houston Texans in 2020.
Cobb will receive $5.625 million in ’21 from the Packers, including a $4.125 million roster bonus that was paid upon him reporting for training camp. He’ll also receive a $1.075 million base salary and a max of $375,000 in a roster bonus tied to how many games he plays.
The $4.125 million is treated as a signing bonus, so it will be spread evenly over all three years, thus dropping his cap number down by $2.75 million this year. However, if the Packers cut Cobb before June 1 of next year, the remaining $2.75 million will count on their ’22 cap.
Cobb has a base salary of $7.875 million and another $375,000 roster bonus next season, but it’s likely the Packers will part ways with him after this year.
The deal Kelly signed is for one year, $1.325 million, including a $250,000 signing bonus.
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The Packers were able to do all this because Rodgers agreed to turn all but $1.1 million of his $14.7 million base salary into a signing bonus, thus allowing the Packers to push $9.64 million of his salary-cap charge into the next two years.
In exchange, the Packers voided his final year, which will force the Packers to decide after this season to either trade Rodgers or sign him to an extension. If they let him play through the ’22 season, he could leave as a free agent and the most they could get for him would be a third-round compensatory pick, whereas if they trade him they should get much more.
The wording says the contract will void seven days prior to the beginning of the 2023 league year. Since that day comes after the deadline for using the franchise tag, the Packers will not be able to use the tag and would have to let him go to free agency heading into the ’23 season.
For Rodgers, who got very little in return for reporting for training camp after a six-month battle with the front office, the foundation for an exit from the Packers next season has been laid.
The downside for the Packers is that Rodgers will count $26.847 million against the ’22 cap if he is traded before June 1. If he remains on the team in '22, his salary cap number would be $46.1 million.
ESPN and NFL Network were the first to report on Rodgers’ restructured deal. The Journal Sentinel confirmed the numbers with a source who saw the contract .
Not widely reported were some changes in Rodgers’ incentives. The totals remain the same, but they were changed to abide by certain salary-cap rules regarding restricted contracts.
Rodgers will earn $125,000 for each playoff game in which he plays 72.5% of the snaps as long as he also plays 72.5% of all snaps in the regular season.
Painful reminders for MVS at home
When the offseason began, Marquez Valdes-Scantling found himself in perhaps the most miserable location any Packers player could imagine.
Valdes-Scantling, like many teammates, left Green Bay to return home after the season. But because the southwest Florida native calls Tampa home, it stuck Valdes-Scantling in the middle of Super Bowl LV festivities. In a town celebrating the Tampa Bay Buccaneers win at the Green Bay Packers in the NFC championship game.
“I live down the street from Raymond James,” MVS said, referencing the site of Super Bowl LV. “So I had to drive past it every day, and not be able to play in it. So that was what my offseason looked like, and I had to stay away from football because of it.”
Valdes-Scantling at least had something positive to enter his offseason. He led the Packers with four catches for 115 yards, including a 50-yard touchdown, in their loss to the Bucs.
The final game was just a capper on what became a breakout season for Valdes-Scantling, one in which he led the NFL with 20.9 yards per catch. He became the first Packers receiver to average at least 20 yards per reception and finish a season with at least 30 catches (he had 33) since Walter Stanley in 1986.
Leap of faith for Dillon
It wasn’t until AJ Dillon brought his family on a Lambeau Field tour that they could understand why the Packers' big tailback had such trouble executing his first Lambeau Leaps.
Dillon struggled scaling the field-level wall after finding the end zone against the Tennessee Titans in December, even needing a boost from teammate Allen Lazard.
“We stand next to it,” Dillon said, laughing, “and I go, ‘You see? It’s pretty tall. It is pretty tall.’”
Dillon stopped laughing when he thought about his next opportunity.
“I’m not making excuses,” he said. “It’s not part of who we are. I just know I’m looking forward to it, and all help is encouraged if I’m up there. It’s all good.”