As the third week of free agency comes to a close, the Green Bay Packers find themselves still armed with a bevy of salary cap space: $24.2 million to be exact. That number of course does not reflect Ricky-Jean Francois signing and the re-signing of Christine Michael. Francois’ contract brings that number down to $21.2 million and the details regarding Michael’s contract are yet to be released. It’s a fair assumption to make that Michael likely signed for the league minimum with little guaranteed money, which would still leave the Packers north of $20 million in cap space.
Overthecap.com estimates that the Packers will need to have roughly $5.7 million set aside to sign their rookie draft class. All of the transactions above will leave Ted Thompson and company with an estimated $14.5 million in available cap space to carry over into the 2017 NFL season, sans any free agent signings that may happen post-draft.
The Green Bay Packers Cap Space Conundrum
Ted Thompson has shown in recent years that he is not concerned about using extra cap space for the future rather than the present. In fact, that very philosophy has allowed him to re-sign many players to contract extensions mid-season, well before they’re able to sniff the free agent market. It’s also enabled him to retain a solid core of players over the years without having to bow to exorbitant contract demands players (and their agents) usually seek in the free agent market. In general, it’s good business practice.
There will be a few detractors of said practice that argue that the leftover cap space could have been spent to bolster a struggling secondary, or perhaps retain one of the many free agent departures from Green Bay this offseason (T.J. Lang, Micah Hyde, Eddie Lacy). While that argument is worth debating, it is also wise to look at what lies ahead after the 2017 season.
The Packers will have 29 players scheduled to be free agents in 2018, among them Davante Adams, Lane Taylor, Corey Linsley and Morgan Burnett. An extension for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix should also be a priority for the Packers. It seems logical that Ted Thompson intends to address the above mentioned players’ contracts with the extra cap space. An extension for Adams could prove to be exceptionally costly if he remains healthy and continues to play at the level he did in 2016. Adams and his agent may demand $10-12 million annually – similar to what both Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson earn per season.
Ultimately, few front offices in the league are as proactive as the Packers are in regards to salary cap management. Ted Thompson’s foresight over the years has avoided the Packers from experiencing salary cap purgatory. Even if that meant leaving the roster short one or two impact players that may be just enough to put the Packers over the top – much to the chagrin of Packer’s fans. Thompson will continue to rely on draft picks to fill immediate needs and fortify weak spots on the roster, it’s business as usual in Green Bay.