Here's the Green Bay Packers salary cap situation after the trade of Aaron Rodgers

Tom Silverstein
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
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GREEN BAY – The Green Bay Packers are free of quarterback Aaron Rodgers’ massive contract.

Sort of.

Along with Rodgers, the Packers traded the three-year, $150 million contract extension that he signed in 2022 – featuring a $40.8 million signing bonus and guaranteed option bonuses of $58.3 million in 2023 and $47 million in ’24 – to the Jets.

The Packers had until the first day of the regular season to execute the $58.3 million bonus, so they have not paid him any salary this year. One-fourth of that amount ($14.575 million) was counting against their salary cap, but it disappeared when Rodgers’ contract went with him to New York.

Aaron Rodgers' departure will have a significant impact on the Green Bay Packers salary cap.

It is now up to the Jets to pay the $58.3 million option bonus or negotiate a more salary cap-friendly deal with Rodgers. All of the terms remaining on the contract travel with Rodgers if he is traded with no financial contingencies.

So the Packers won't feel much salary cap pain?

Quite the contrary.

Just because the Packers unloaded $105.3 million in future earnings to the Jets, doesn’t mean they are off the hook from a salary cap standpoint.

The amount Rodgers counts against the salary cap this year actually went up from $31.6 million to $40.3 million, and the amount the Packers are under the salary cap went down from $22.2 million to $12.6 million.

How did that happen?

When a player is traded or released before June 1, all the salary cap charges that had been pushed off to a later date became due immediately. In Rodgers’ case, the Packers had taken advantage of rules that allowed them to lower his salary cap number at the time by placing those charges in future years.

For instance, the $40.3 million signing bonus he received in 2022 was split up over five years for cap purposes. Four of those years remain at a cost of $32.64 million in salary cap charges.

In addition, Rodgers had $7.67 million in charges remaining from a previous signing bonus he received, so that is added to the $32.64 million to reach the $40.3 million cap number. This leftover charge is called “dead money” because it belongs to a player who is no longer there.

How much dead money do the Packers have?

In short, a lot.

There are $57.122 million in dead money charges on their current cap. It reflects both the Rodgers deal and the number of times the Packers lowered salary cap numbers in the present by pushing charges off into the future.

It is not a league record, but it’s close. Atlanta had $63 million in dead money last year after trading quarterback Matt Ryan to the Indianapolis Colts.

Among the Packers’ dead money charges:

  • $7.95 million for safety Adrian Amos
  • $3.0 million for defensive lineman Dean Lowry
  • $1.492 million for defensive lineman Jarran Reed
  • $1.39 million for receiver Randall Cobb
  • $1.05 million for tight end Marcedes Lewis

So, are the Packers in salary cap trouble?

They’ve got some issues.

With the addition of the ’23 draft picks they got from the Jets in the trade, they will need around $9 million in cap space to add the rookies and undrafted free agents acquired this weekend.

They will have to find some more space before the season starts because they may want to sign a free agent and there will be other costs. They have maxed out most of the restructure possibilities that could gain them more cap space, so they’ll have to get creative to create room.

The good news for them is that Rodgers will be off the books next season. Successor Jordan Love will be scheduled to count around $20 million against the cap in ’24, but the Packers can reduce that significantly if they sign him to a contract extension.

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