Since Green Bay Packers GM Ted Thompson has been at the helm (2005), the Packers have managed their salary cap fairly well. One of the main reasons why is that Thompson rarely spends an exorbitant money, or any amount of money for that matter, during the free agency period. Sure there have been some exceptions — Charles Woodson (2006) and Julius Peppers (2014) come to mind — but Thompson embraces the draft-and-develop approach through and through.

While several fans quarrel at Thompson’s lack of free agent spending year in and year out, the Packers’ on-the-field play has not suffered as a result under the Thompson — five NFC North titles (2007, 2011-14), seven-straight playoff appearances (2009-15), only two seasons below .500 (2005 & 2008), and one Lombardi Trophy (2010).

With training camp getting underway in the coming weeks, the Packers have an estimated $8.9 million in cap space based on their top-51 contracts for the 2016 season. That figure ranks 17th among NFL teams.

1. San Francisco 49ers — $48.85 million

16. New England Patriots — $9.3 million

18. Atlanta Falcons — $8.8 million

32. Arizona Cardinals — $651,520

However, Green Bay only has $757,791 in ’16 dead money, which ranks 5th. In effect, as of late, Thompson is not signing players to big deals then releasing them after they fail to meet expectations.

1. Cincinnati Bengals — $198,271

4. Minnesota Vikings — $535,385

6. Dallas Cowboys — $1.6 million

32. New Orleans Saints — $29.2 million

For instance, the Packers’ highest dead cap figure is $281,626, which is tied to defensive tackle Khyri Thornton who is now with the Detroit Lions. Green Bay released the 2014 third-round selection in 2015. Conversely, the Saints’ highest dead cap figure is $12.1 million, which is tied to outside linebacker Junior Galette.

The Saints released Galette in 2015 after signing him to a 4-year, $41.5-million extension in 2014. Galette has since signed two contracts with the Washington Redskins, the most recent of which was a 1-yr, $1.6-million deal. Not to mention, New Orleans has six (!!) dead cap figures over $1 million whereas Green Bay only has two over $100,000.

Nevertheless, let’s take a look at some of the notable player contracts for the Packers and the team’s notable 2017 free agents. The contract rankings are for the 2016-17 season unless otherwise noted. 

Notable Player Contracts

QB Aaron Rodgers

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In his first game back after missing seven games with a broken collarbone in 2013, Rodgers connected on a 48-yard touchdown heave with Randall Cobb to seal the NFC North title. (Source: Giphy.com)

The two-time MVP signed a 5-yr, $110-million extension in 2013, which included $54.5 million guaranteed and an average annual salary of $22 million. At the time, his average annual salary was the highest in NFL history, but that was recently surpassed by Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck ($24.6 million) and Baltimore Ravens QB Joe Flacco ($22.1 million). The former Cal Bears’ guaranteed money figure ranks 8th in the NFL among quarterbacks, whereas his 2016 base salary ranks 14th. Rodgers will be an unrestricted free agent in 2020 at age 36.

Base Salaries

  • 2016: $11.5 million
  • 2017: $12.55 million
  • 2018: $19.8 million
  • 2019: $20 million

Bonuses

  • 2016: $37,500 per game; $500,000 workout
  • 2017: $37,500 per game; $500,000 workout
  • 2018: $37,500 per game; $500,000 workout
  • 2019: $37,500 per game; $500,000 workout

Salary Cap/Dead Cap Hits

  • 2017: $20.3 million salary cap hit; $6.65 million dead cap hit = $13.65m savings
  • 2018: $20.9 million salary cap hit; $0 dead cap hit = $20.9m savings
  • 2019: $21.1 million salary cap hit; $0 dead cap hit = $21.1m savings

 

LB Clay Matthews

In 2013, the former USC linebacker signed a 5-year, $66-million extension, which included $31.5 million guaranteed. Matthews received $27 million within the first two years. At the time of signing, the deal made Matthews the highest paid linebacker in the NFL. However, Kansas City Chiefs’ Justin Houston ($101 million) and Denver Broncos’ Von Miller ($114.5 million) have since surpassed Matthews. The 2010 NFL Defensive Player of the Year will be an unrestricted free agent in 2019 at age 33.

Base Salaries

  • 2016: $8.5 million
  • 2017: $10.1 million
  • 2018: $10.4 million

Bonuses

  • 2016: $500,000 per game
  • 2017: $500,000 per game
  • 2018: $500,000 per game

Salary Cap/Dead Cap Hits

  • 2017: $15.2 million salary cap number; $4.1 million dead cap hit = $11.1m savings
  • 2018: $11.4 million; $0 dead cap hit = $11.4m savings

DE Mike Daniels

In 2015, Daniels signed a 4-year, $41-million deal, which included a $12-million signing bonus — the only guaranteed money included in the deal. This past offseason, the 2012 fourth round selection received a 2016 roster bonus of $3.3 million. (It was due on March 11).

Additionally, his contract includes a Pro Bowl incentive of $125,000 in 2016-19. Currently, in terms of total contract value among NFL defensive ends, the former Iowa standout ranks 12th and his guaranteed money figure ranks 21st. Daniels will be an unrestricted free agent in 2020 at age 31.

Base Salaries

  • 2016: $800,000
  • 2017: $2.1 million
  • 2018: $6.6 million
  • 2019: $7.6 million

Bonuses

  • 2017: $31,250 per game; $400,000 workout
  • 2018: $31,250 per game; $400,000 workout
  • 2019: $31,250 per game; $400,000 workout

Salary Cap/Dead Cap Hits

  • 2017: $10.4 million salary cap number; $7.2 million dead cap number = $3.2m savings
  • 2018: $9.9 million salary cap number; $4.8 million dead cap number = $5.1m savings
  • 2019: $10.9 million salary cap number; $2.4 dead cap number = $8.5m savings

WR Jordy Nelson

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In a 2014 Week 2 contest against the New York Jets, Nelson recorded nine receptions for 209 yards and one touchdown. (Source: Bleacher Report)

Nelson, who missed the entire 2015-16 season with a tore ACL, signed a 4-year, $39.05-million deal in 2014, which included $11.75 million guaranteed that consisted of his signing bonus ($11.5 million) and ’14 workout bonus ($250,000). The total contract value ranks 17th in the NFL among wide receivers; the $9.8 million average annual salary ranks 14th; and his ’16 base salary ranks 15th. The former Kansas State star will be an unrestricted free agent in 2019 at age 34.

Base Salaries

  • 2016: $5.5 million
  • 2017: $8.25 million
  • 2018: $9.25 million

Bonuses

  • 2016: $31,250 per game
  • 2017: $31,250 per game; $500,000 workout
  • 2018: $31,250 per game; $500,000 workout

Salary Cap/Dead Cap Hits

  • 2017: $11.55 million salary cap hit; $4.6 million dead cap hit = $6.95m savings
  • 2018: $12.55 million salary cap hit; $2.3 million dead cap hit = $10.25m savings

 

WR Randall Cobb

In 2015, Cobb signed a 4-year, $40-million deal, which included $13 million guaranteed. This past offseason, Cobb received a $3.5 million roster bonus that was due on March 11 and also received a $400,000 workout bonus. The $10 million average annual salary figure ranks 13th among NFL wide receivers, one spot ahead of Jordy Nelson. However, his 2016 base salary ranks 50th but jumps up 7th in 2017. The former 2011 second round selection will be an unrestricted free agent in 2019 at age 28.

Base Salaries

  • 2016: $1.5 million
  • 2017: $8.6 million
  • 2018: $8.6 million

Bonuses

  • 2016: $31,250 per game
  • 2017: $31,250 per game; $400,000 workout
  • 2018: $31,250 per game; $400,000 workout

Salary Cap/Dead Cap Hits

  • 2017: $12.75 million salary cap hit; $6.5 million dead cap hit = $6.25m savings
  • 2018: $12.75 million salary cap hit; $3.25 million dead cap hit = $9.5m savings

CB Sam Shields

In 2014, the former undrafted free agent signed a 4-year, $39-million deal, which included a $12.5 million signing bonus. Shields’ total contract value ranks 13th in the NFL among cornerbacks, and his 2016 base salary ranks 9th among cornerbacks. The former Miami (FL) standout will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 at age 30.

Base Salaries

  • 2016: $8 million
  • 2017: $8 million

Bonuses

  • 2016: $31,250 per game
  • 2017: $31,250 per game

Salary Cap/Dead Cap Hits

  • 2017: $12.125 million salary cap hit; $3.125 dead cap hit = $9m savings

RT Bryan Bulaga

In 2015, the former Iowa offensive lineman signed a 5-year, $33.75-million deal, which entailed a $8 million signing bonus — the only guaranteed money in the deal. The contract’s total value ranks tied for 26th among offensive linemen with his teammate Josh Sitton. Additionally, his $6.75 million average annual salary ranks tied for 32nd, again, with Sitton. Bulaga will be an unrestricted free agent in 2020 at age 31.

Base Salaries

  • 2016: $950,000
  • 2017: $5.4 million
  • 2018: $5.85 million
  • 2019: $5.8 million

Bonuses

  • 2016: $2.66 million roster (due on March 11, 2016); $34,375 per game
  • 2017: $250,000 workout; $37,500 per game
  • 2018: $250,000 workout; $40,625 per game
  • 2019: $250,000 workout; $43,750 per game

Salary Cap/Dead Cap Hits

  • 2017: $7.85 million salary cap hit; $4.8 million dead cap hit (drops to $1.6 million post-June 1) = $3.05m savings
  • 2018: $8.35 million salary cap hit; $3.2 million dead cap hit (drops to $1.6 million post-June 1) = $5.15m savings
  • 2019: $8.35 million salary cap hit; $1.6 million dead cap hit (drops to $1.6 million post-June 1) = $6.75m savings

SS Morgan Burnett

The hard-hitting safety signed a 4-year, $24.75-million deal in 2013, which included $8.25 million guaranteed. Burnett, the former Georgia Tech star, received a $206,250 roster bonus and a $300,000 workout bonus this past offseason. Altogether, the total contract value ranks 15th in the NFL among safeties, and his $6.2 million average annual salary ranks 13th. The 2011 third-round selection will be an unrestricted free agent in 2018 at age 29.

Base Salaries

  • 2016: $3.8 million
  • 2017: $4.75 million

Bonuses

  • 2016: $18,750 per game
  • 2017: $18,750 per game; $300,000 workout

Salary Cap/Dead Cap Hits

  • 2017: $7 million salary cap hit; $1.65 million dead cap hit = $5.35m savings

 

Noteworthy 2017 Free Agents

Per OverTheCap, Green Bay has an estimated $24.71 million in cap space for 2017. 

OL Josh Sitton

  • Original contract: 5 yr, $33.75m in 2011
  • Guaranteed Money: $8.5m
    • $6 million signing bonus + ’11 $2.5 million roster bonus
  • ’16 Base Salary: $6.150m
  • ’16 Per Game Bonus: $25k

OLB Julius Peppers

  • Original contract: 3 yr, $26m in 2014
  • Guaranteed Money: $7.5m
  • ’16 Base Salary: $7m
  • ’16 Per Game Bonus: $500k

OL T.J. Lang

  • Original contract: 4 yr, $20.8m in 2012
  • Guaranteed Money: $5.5m
  • ’16 Base Salary: $4.6m
  • ’16 Per Game Bonus: $18,750

RB Eddie Lacy

  • Original contract: 4 yr, $3.39m in 2013
  • Guaranteed Money: $1.47m
  • ’16 Base Salary: $867,602
  • ’16 Per Game Bonus: N/A

DE Datone Jones

  • Original contract: 4 yr, $7.7m in 2013
  • Guaranteed Money: $6.25m
  • ’16 Base Salary: $1m
  • ’16 Per Game Bonus: N/A
  • *Note: The Packers declined Jones’ fifth-year option for 2017, which is available for players that are drafted in the first round. 

OLB Nick Perry

  • Original contract: 1 yr, $5.05m in 2016
  • Guaranteed Money: $1.5m
  • ’16 Base Salary: $2.3m
  • ’16 Per Game Bonus: $62,500

TE Jared Cook

  • Original contract: 1 yr, $2.75m in 2016
  • Guaranteed Money: $825k
  • ’16 Base Salary: $1.425m
  • ’16 Per Game Bonus: N/A

OL David Bakhtiari

  • Original contract: 4 yr, $2.615m in 2013
  • Guaranteed Money: $455,400
  • ’16 Base Salary: $1.671m
  • ’16 Per Game Bonus: N/A

OL J.C. Tretter

  • Original contract: 4 yr, $2.575m in2013
  • Guaranteed Money: $415,908
  • ’16 Base Salary: $675k
  • ’16 Per Game Bonus: N/A

DB Micah Hyde

  • Original contract: 4 yr, $2.34m in 2013
  • Guaranteed Money: $178,108
  • ’16 Base Salary: $1.671m
  • ’16 Per Game Bonus: N/A

LB Sam Barrington

  • Original contract: 4 yr, $2.21m in 2013
  • Guaranteed Money: $49k
  • ’16 Base Salary: $675k
  • ’16 Per Game Bonus: N/A

P Tim Mashtay

  • Original contract: 4 yr, $5.47m in 2012
  • Guaranteed Money: $1.2m
  • ’16 Base Salary: $1.2m
  • ’16 Per Game Bonus: N/A

 

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Sources

  1. Spotrac, NFL Salary Rankings, available at http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/rankings/
  2. Spotrac, Green Bay Packers Contracts, available at http://www.spotrac.com/nfl/green-bay-packers/
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