Salary cap space
As of March 17, 2021, the Packers are projected to be $10,240,224 over the 2021 cap.
The Packers rolled over $3.7 million in 2020 cap space.
March 10 update: The salary cap has been set at $182.5 million.
In just a few days, the Green Bay Packers will host the Los Angeles Rams for the right to advance to the NFC Championship Game and, with another victory, Super Bowl LV. But while the Packers’ pursuit of a fifth Lombardi Trophy remains active, their front office already has an eye on the 2021 season and the significant salary-cap issues the team must navigate in the coming months.
Due to a combination of the bill arriving from the free-agent spending spree two years ago and financial issues affecting every team in the league, the Packers face a sizeable cap crunch. While the core of the team appears unlikely to change as a result, several key players will either depart in free agency or become cap casualties if they don’t significantly restructure or extend their current deals.
The NFL powered through its 2020 season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. The league played without fans in most stadiums with limited crowds in the remaining venues. The decrease in gate revenue will most likely result in a decrease in money shared between the 32 teams. This in turn means the salary cap has been decreased. The NFL has announced an official salary cap of $182.5 million, which is sure to result in some tough choices for many teams.
All salary cap information below comes courtesy of the NFLPA Public Salary Cap Report.
Though the Packers could clear cap space by restructuring some existing deals while slashing others, that alone will not prevent several key contributors from leaving this offseason. Atop the list sits Corey Linsley, the team’s longtime starting center who earned first-team All-Pro honors in 2020. Green Bay has already invested major resources into its offensive line — most recently signing All-Pro left tackle David Bakhtiari to a record-setting extension — leaving Linsley as a potential casualty.
Meanwhile, Pro Bowl running back Aaron Jones and his talented backup Jamaal Williams each will hit the market barring a new deal or the unlikely use of the franchise or transition tag. Jones has grown into an integral part of the offense, both as a runner and receiver. However, the Packers used their second-round pick on Boston College bruiser A.J. Dillion last April, limiting the team’s need to invest in the veteran back.
On defense, starting corner Kevin King will see his contract expire along with safety-linebacker hybrid Will Redmond and late-season addition Damon “Snacks” Harrison. Harrison will likely return to retirement, though the others will sign somewhere in 2021.
The Packers also have a series of restricted and exclusive-rights free agents to consider such as tight end Robert Tonyan wideout Allen Lazard, respectively. Each will most likely return to Green Bay, but their cap numbers will more than double from their current amounts.
While the team might retain one or more from that group, keeping all of them appears impossible without massive adjustments elsewhere on the roster. One such cost-cutting move could come in the form of a restructured deal for Aaron Rodgers. The Packers have already restructured his deal once in the past 13 months and doing so again would reduce his 2021 cap hold from its current $37 million mark. Green Bay could also theoretically move on from Rodgers via a trade or release, an option the team put on the table when it made quarterback Jordan Love a first-round pick last year. However, that seems hard to fathom given Rodgers expects to take home NFL MVP honors for the 2020 season.