Scott Wells

The salary cap for 2012 is set — $120.6 million, which isn’t much more than last season. More importantly, the Green Bay Packers sit approximately $5 million under the cap.

Technically, with the 51 highest-paid players currently under contract counting against the cap, the Packers are over slightly. That number sits at $120,735,169, according to Packer Report. However, teams are able to roll over excess cap space from 2011 and the Packers had $5,481,640 left from last season.

It all adds up to $5,346,471 of cap room right now. That’s not much room to work with in free agency, but the Packers can free up another $5.5 million by releasing veteran tackle Chad Clifton, a move that has been expected for some time.

The team is also expected to restructure receiver Donald Driver‘s deal to free up additional space. Driver is due $5 million this season.

If all this maneuvering is done as expected, it will put the Packers approximately $13 million under the salary cap — at least by the estimate constructed by my math-retarded calculations. As it were, that’s about enough room to re-sign center Scott Wells or his replacement and a couple other players.

Wells or a comparable center will cost around $6 million per season. Cornerback Jarrett Bush could garner perhaps $3 million a year. If the Packers make both moves, that leaves $4 million for them to use elsewhere.

The team has other free agents they may attempt to re-sign like Ryan Grant, Howard Green and Erik Walden. Of the trio, Grant seems the most likely to return. The Packers could also throw some money at a mid-level free agent, which seems unlikely.

This, of course, doesn’t account for the money the team will spend signing draft picks, which will be around $5 million.

So what does all of this mean? It means the Packers will probably lose either Wells or Bush, two players who have become valuable contributors, unless they get creative. If the team gives $5-6 million to Wells or another center like Houston’s Chris Myers, it’s hard to see Bush’s salary fitting under the cap.

On the other hand, if the Packers lose Wells and are able to draft his replacement — Wisconsin’s Pete Konz anyone? — they can pay Bush, maybe Grant, also sign a decent free agent and pay their draft picks.

Free agency begins Tuesday. Get ready for our usual clusterfuck updates throughout the day.

Should be a hoot!