Analysis: Green Bay Packers’ 2014 Salary Cap

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Sam Shields

Sam Shields

On the surface, the Green Bay Packers begin the offseason in pretty good shape. Sportrac estimates they currently have more than $27 million in cap space to work with.

That’s the sixth-largest total in the league.

We say “on the surface” because the Packers also have 20 free agents, 16 of which are unrestricted.

Among those are starters B.J. Raji, Ryan Pickett, Johnny Jolly, Sam Shields, Evan Dietrich-Smith, John Kuhn, James Jones and Jermichael Finley. Part-time starter Mike Neal is also unrestricted.

So let’s break down some numbers.

First, we’ll assume B.J. Raji and his fat ass are going to get big money and sign elsewhere. We’re also going to assume the Packers won’t clear Finley medically, which means he’ll either be forced to retire or sign elsewhere.

James Jones also seems destined to move on. With Jones the issue isn’t lack of production, like it is with Raji, or injury, like it is with Finley. The elephant in the room is that both Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb are entering the final year of their contracts. The Packers simply can’t pay all three of those guys top dollar.

As for the rest of the pack, Shields is the top priority. We see him getting somewhere in the neighborhood of $7 million per season.

He’s followed by Dietrich-Smith. If the Packers pay him $3 million per season, that would make Dietrich-Smith the 11th highest-paid center in the league and that seems about right to us.

The remaining four guys on the list should come fairly cheap.

Pickett is nearing the end of the line. His last contract averaged over $6 million per season. At this point, he’ll probably be lucky to get a deal worth $2 million per season.

The same goes for Kuhn, who isn’t likely to draw a lot of interest from a league that rarely employs fullbacks anymore.

Finally, these are just educated guesses, but we’ll say Jolly and Neal both get $3 million per season.

Here’s where that leaves us.

  • Shields: $7 million
  • Dietrich-Smith: $3 million
  • Jolly: $3 million
  • Neal: $3 million
  • Pickett: $2 million
  • Kuhn: $2 million

Total: $20 million

That would leave the Packers with just over $7 million to sign their draft picks, restricted free agents and (hahaha!) any outside free agents.

If the Packers want more cap room to work with, they could either release Tramon Williams or restructure his deal. Williams will account for a $9.5 million cap hit in 2014. That number would decrease to $2 million (dead money) if he was released.

That being said, the Packers would be wise to restructure Williams’ deal and add a couple years. He was one of their best defenders, if not the best, down the stretch in 2013.

Obviously, there are plenty of decisions to be made this offseason.

Free agency begins March 11.

About The Author

Monty McMahon is one of the founders of Total Packers. He is probably the most famous graduate of UW-Oshkosh next to Jim Gantner.

22 Comments on "Analysis: Green Bay Packers’ 2014 Salary Cap"

  1. Ryan

    Before this turns into a ted bashing forum think of this. We have players that he drafted every year that are at the end of there contracts that we cant afford to resign and yet we still want him to bring in big money free agents. Most of the players listed in the article are guys that Ted drafted and we would love to bring back but other teams (do to there inability to draft players of there caliber) will overpay them for there services.

  2. GBslacker

    Kuhn
    …38yds rushing; 81yds receiving; 2 ST tackles and one ST gaffe, one lame-ass hurdle, and countless times where he’s cartoon-like: in motion, but not going anywhere. Do you really keep a guy because he knows pass protection?

    Jones
    …top money? for him? no way. His hands aren’t the greatest and you’ve got to hit him with a perfect pass — he can’t/won’t stretch, bend, lay-out. He’s tough, but not speedy, nor elusive.

    EDS
    …I don’t think he’s a top center; don’t think he’d break the bank on a 3-year deal.

    Jolly
    …He’ll likely have surgery — cervical fusion for herniated disc? That will impact his off-season, conditioning — which I think he needs, considering his age and being out of the game for a few years. Don’t see how he’d be in demand: vet minimum with incentives, if signed. We’ve seen hands-to-the-face penalties and bent necks — how does this guy function after a herniated disc?

    Pickett
    …just no pursuit — 10 on 11, if the runner doesn’t come his way. Sad his re-signing is a consideration as he’d be a guy other teams jettison.

    Neal
    …he’s not an OLB — he can’t move laterally, so let’s just call him a DE. I just don’t see a difference-maker; let him hit the market and see what he’s worth.

    Wilson
    …with a dLine exodus, I could see him coming back. I don’t think Daniels is a 3-down player, so Wilson could spell him on running downs.

    Shields
    …he thinks he’s a top-tier CB, but he’s not. Good, but not top 5. Hope they don’t pay him Morgan-Burnett money.

    On offense, I think they’re good:
    Rodgers returns;
    Lacy develops;
    the line has some depth;
    TE position shaky (no big deal, none of them have ever blocked anyway…)

    On defense, it’s some scary shit:
    the line is old, non-athletic, on the verge of break-up;
    the OLBs are either not stout, or not mobile;
    the ILBs are not fast, nor quick, nor sure open-field tacklers;
    the safeties flat-out suck shit;
    the CBs cover OK, but are not robust in run-support.

    Two of the best defenders — Matthews and Hayward — have sustained repeated hamstring injuries, which seem to be cumulative and permanent.

    I’d like to see about half of the defensive starters gone. Of course, that’s not happening. So another year of suspect defense is on the calendar.

    Which makes re-signing Starks the most important free-agent signing! Why? we’ve got to spell Lacy — he’s got to balance the pass-happy tendencies of McCarthy and keep the defense off the field. Although there was typical coach-BS about limiting his carries, it didn’t really happen. I don’t think DuJuan Harris is the answer — c’mon, he played in 4 games. From Brandon Jackson to Johnathan Franklin, these 20x lb running backs haven’t fared well with our offensive line. So we need Starks.

    In summary, a possible 10-6 season — just don’t see the need to spout 12-4 or 13-3 BS. Carolina, New England, New Orleans, and Seattle are all but guaranteed losses. And if the remaining opponents can play dull, grind-it-out offense they’ll be able to capitalize on a less than stellar Packer defense and rattle McCarthy.

    The coaching turnover in MIN and DET means the Packers may contend for a division title, but the yearly roster churn combined with the complex scheme mean limited impact from newcomers — just what this team doesn’t need.

    • Savage57

      I tried doing a run down like this a couple weeks ago and about half-way through, after I thought my fucking head was going to explode, I jumped into a bottle of Scotch for the rest of the evening. I salute either your bravery or masochism.

      Ted earns every cent he makes.

      • Phatgzus

        And it’s not just number-crunching in the style of Madden. Ted has to sit down, figure out what the talent value for every player is, as well as what he believes the market will command, and then he has to decide if their value to the team makes them worth more, less, or the same as the market and talent would dictate. All the while he has to think about free agency and the draft, the needs of the other 31 teams and what they will likely value their FAs and current players at, and then if they’re likely to address needs via free agency or the draft.
        Then he has to sit down with the players, likely before free agency, see where they’re at, then sit down again before the draft and try to settle on new or restructured deals. And I’m sure that’s still only about half of it.

      • GBslacker

        Brave?!

        I only talked about 8 of the 20-something free agents — I might be brave if I talked about the other 12!

        I stopped because I was getting depressed: I don’t think any of these guys are that damned good.

        Sure, they’ve made a play here and there, over the course of 3 or 4 years. But they’re just not that damn good.

        It’s the same-old crazy shit every year — where someone takes their past play and tries to project it forward. And their performance always goes up and up; never does it level-off, or go down. And, of course, the pay reflects this crazy exponential mythical performance; not reality.

        And there’s never been a blog-GM that pays for his mistakes. NEVER!

    • Phatgzus

      Agree on a lot of the points you made.
      My thoughts:

      Kuhn-not a difference maker, but good blocker, effective in short yardage now that we have feared and competent RBs. Smart (made a pre-snap adjustment on the last TD vs. Da Bares), knows the O inside and out. Sign him cheap ($1-2M) which I think will be possible considering the FB situation in the League which you referenced.

      EDS-re-sign him, though I think he’ll get more than $3M per (I think around $5M) he’ll still be worth it IMO.

      Pickett-no, he doesn’t pursue, not many 320lb., 3-4 two-gappers do. IF he’s playing well he should be almost always occupying 2 blockers, making it 10-9 in our favor, operative term being “if”. He also plays at a position of need for us (many DLs but arguably only 5, from last year have prototypical two-gap builds). Re-sign him for no more than
      $3M.

      Jolly Green-motivated, nasty, solid player even after 3 hers out of the game, should get better over the next year as he’ll have time to recover and he has 3 years less damage than others his age. The facts that he had a spinal injury, is of yet an unproven entity in this half of his career, and GB gave him a major second chance and he seems to genuinely appreciate that should drive his price way down. Re-sign him for no more than $3M, should be able to get him cheaper.

      Neal-not a game-breaker but a serviceable backup to be sure. $2-3M.

      Wilson-career backup. $1.5 at most.

      Shields-maybe not top 5 but I think a case could be made, certainly top 10; we need him @ CB. Up to $9M per.

      Starks-I know Harris only played in a handful of games but did you watch him? Mini Steady Eddie but more explosive and high-end speed, great hands and dangerous after the catch. Not sure on pass-blocking. Starks is a knifed and fantastic CoP back and I love the dude, but with our backfield and his injury history any more than $4M is a waste.

      Finley (if cleared)-$3.5M or YOTTOMan GTFO

      GG-finally showed he might be back to full health and picking up where he left off pre-ACL tear. Solid blocker, route runner, and receiver (better hands than J-Mike to be sure), excels at none of the above. Position of need; $4M tops.

      Raji-Snorlaxed his lazy ass out of town, deuces ya giant
      deucebag.

      JJ-good player, great size, solid YAC, now has great hands (for the most part), makes ridiculous catches, top tier no. 2 (not in the same way has Maharaji mind you) or low-end No. 1. Surfeit of talented young receivers, don’t really need him, someone is likely to pay him at least $5-6M per. Unless he takes a discount double check for about $3M, happy trails and thanks for all the fish.

      Francois-good STer, solid backup at a position consisting of nothing but solid backups, injury-prone, should drive his price down; vet min. or nuthin’.

      Seneca Wallace-enjoy re-retirement, maybe we’ll see ya at the Pebble Beach Pro-Am one day.

      OLBs-which one’s aren’t stout? Perry? CMIII? Neal?
      Mulumba, maybe. Palmer, probably.

      I ain’t skyeered of the Seahawks, Pumas, mini-me led ‘Aints, nor the Pats away and with only Edelman and Gronk (who will probably be on IR by that time anyway). We’ll probably lose hard-fought games in SEA and maybe to the ‘Aints; probably beat NE (even with a good run game) at home, and Carolina at home (if we play them in CAR I’d say 50/50). 5-1 vs. the North (loss to Da Bares in Soldier Swamp). I say we go 12-4 (NE might get us), no worse, assuming a healthy Aaron Rodgers of course.

      Newhouse-good riddance to bad rubbish.

      • Phatgzus

        Flynn-3rd most important FA in my eyes; re-sign him for $3-4M.

        Lattimore-solid, still-learning, has potential, could unseat Jones next year, will likely be starting at some point when Jones suffers an inevitable injury; $2-2.5M.

      • GBslacker

        Kuhn
        1 – 2

        EDS
        5

        Pickett
        3

        Jolly
        3

        Neal
        2 – 3

        Wilson
        1.5

        Shields
        9

        Starks
        4

        Finley
        3.5

        GG (Quarless?)
        4

        JJ
        3

        Francois
        ~1

        ======

        You just spent

        40 to 42 million

        for zilch, with the exception of Shields.

        The other guys are not play-makers or difference-makers. They’ve likely played their best ball, have reached their respective ceilings (ie: they’re old, in NFL terms), and they have only one direction to go.

        And you’ve just whizzed away one-third of the cap on them.

        Plus, the older they get, the more prone to injury — the big bucks you’ve spent on a worthless healthy player are now going to an unhealthy IR player.

        Pickett
        …is not worth that money — at his age, he’ll be bringin’ nothing after mid-season. He’s not going to be drawing double-teams because he’s OLD and TIRED.

        Jolly
        …it’s not like you subtract a year for every season he missed — IT’S GONE. Just ask Ryan Grant if he was able to bank those early years when he wasn’t used much.

        Finley
        …is GONE. May get that money from somebody, but not from Ted.

        Quarless
        …he doesn’t block for shit. Just because he’s better than the rest means nothing! Had back-to-back “career” games, WITH 6 CATCHES FOR 66 YARDS ?? Way to lower the bar!

        JJ
        …turns 30 in another couple of months — never fast; now slower. Can play physical if pressed, but won’t have the seconds to make up for his lost speed.

        Raji had the “reported” offer of $8 mill; they tried to lock up Shields last year. I haven’t seen any effort by the Packers to retain the others. These guys need new contracts for a reason — they’re expendable. If they were really this good, they’d have been resigned already.

        • Phatgzus

          Starks I changed to 2, forgot Flynn, GG (Quarless as you guessed) I’ll change to 3, so still $40-42M. I’m not saying re-sign all the FAs, let alone at their top projected price, that’s just the max they’d be worth in my relatively untrained eyes.

          Goodbye, JJ-3, bye, Starks-2, bye, Call Me Francois-$850K, bye, Wilson-1.5, buhbye YOTTO-3.5 or GG-2. That’s $9.5-10M gone: $30-32M restructured deals for Jordy, Cobb, and maybe Tramon might occur and lessen the amount, let’s say $2-6M. Jolly very likely won’t get above $1.5M so that’s another $3.5-7.5M: $22.5-28.5M, not to mention the contracts can be structured to be worth more or less than
          avg. each year depending on cap space (which will be increased in ’14). That should leave us enough Benjamins to sign draft picks and a a couple cheap FAs.

          JJ may not have elite speed but he’s always been a solod deep threat and is now a much better possession receiver, shit I could run as fast as Amani Toomer and the dude was a stud possession guy. Regardless, I already said JJ is expendable.

          I didn’t say Jolly has an extra 3 years left compared to other linemen his age, I said he has 3 less years of NFL-calibre wear and tear, which is an unimpeachable fact (there is a difference between those 2 statements) and it is certainly a positive, though the magnitude of its effect is nebulous. As for the Grant comparison, apples and oranges-Grant was an RB who blew out his knee (major NFL wear and tear).

          I already said Quarless was solid not spectacular; he can indeed block for shit and Eddie Lacy is a whole lot better than just some fecal matter-he is THE Shit. Quarless had one of his best receiving years and it was in the year following a major ACL injury, those usually knock a skill position player’s game down a few pegs (if not ruin a career)
          for a year or two-ask Ryan Grant or Owen Daniels.

          Pickett’s TALENT may not be worth that much-he started off strong then faded but showed up again vs. SF, maybe he was playing for a contract that game who knows. However, I’d argue his value to the team may make him worth $3M otherwise we’ll have some combo of Jones, Boyd, and Daniels going to FA and the draft and we still need to get 1 or 2 safeties, an ILB, a TE, and potentially 1 or 2 WRs, OLs, an OLB, and a QB outside of DLs.

          I wouldn’t consider a re-signing a top 10 center (who our QB loves btw), a top 10 CB (subtract Shields’ max and the amount spent is about $13.5-21M), our best remaining TE (GG) who admitted is probably a number 2 TE, and a QB who went 2-2-1 and helped save our season to be “whizz[ing] away…money…for zilch.”

          In short, I want, in order, Shields~$9M, EDS~$5M, Flynn~$4M, Quarless/Finley~$2M/$3.5M, Jolly~$1.5-3M, Pickett~3M, Neal~$1-2M, Kuhn~$1-2M, Lattimore~$2M.

          That is NO MORE than $33.5M. I could deal without Kuhn, Lat, YOTTO, Neal, and even Pickett-$21-$33.5-X million (X = the sum of whoever doesn’t get resigned).

          • GBslacker

            Just because Jolly has three fewer years wear-n-tear doesn’t mean shit.
            Father Time will still kick him in the ass now that he’s over 30.

            The comparison with Grant is apropos — Grant had nothing left in the tank after his second signing in GB, at the ripe old age of……30. (Don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about “an RB who blew out his knee…”)

            …..

            “I didn’t say Jolly has an extra 3 years left compared to other linemen his age, I said he has 3 less years of NFL-calibre wear and tear, which is an unimpeachable fact (there is a difference between those 2 statements) and it is certainly a positive, though the magnitude of its effect is nebulous.”

            You really sound like a total fruitcake in this passage; although it’s a “reply” to me, it doesn’t reference anything I said.

            Weird… like unimpeachable nebulousness.

          • Phatgzus

            1) no need to become vitriolic, just trying to have a respectable debate; fruitcake, besides being a homophobic slur in no way represent anything I said (I wasn’t talking about dudes’ junk or anything of that nature, unless you consider nebulous and unimpeachable words exapted by the LGBT community).

            As for the Grant comparison, it is germane only in the sense that both he and Jolly were Green Bay Packers. Starting-calibre DTs have significantly longer career lengths than RBs and that is because they suffer greater wear and tear
            (e.g. high-speed [force] collisions and injuries resultant from). Grant suffered injuries to his knee and ankle that ended his season and lessened his effect because he couldn’t cut or accelerate as well. These injuries contributed more to his downfall than tge passage of a few years when he was still quite young (not until we become much older does time have a major effect on our health as compared to major structural injuries). Jolly suffered a spinal injury-herniated disc-which, though significant does not really affect how he plays the game (hand techniques, leverage, explosiveness) but may make him more susceptible to another similar and dangerous spinal injury.
            In short, the men had completely different injuries, play two different positions with entirely different requirements and expected longevity. Thus a direct comparison between the two individuals and their is really not very relevant. You would do best to compare Jolly’s situation to others DL’s who have herniated discs or other spinal injuries.

            You did say something to that effect: “it’s not like you subtract a year for every season he’s missed – IT’S GONE.”
            The point of my rebuttal was that 3 years of getting buried by 630+ pounds of professional athlete is significantly more damaging than 3 years of sitting in a jail cell lifting weights. Sure senescence affects performance but not nearly as much as playing professional football, thus Jolly has a healthier body (and could reasonably play at a higher level at a later age) than he would’ve if he had been playing football the past 3 years and recurrently suffering bodily trauma without allowing his body a legitimate chance to heal (injuries often have a cumulative effect).

  3. Big B

    Nice recap of reality. There isn’t cap space left to bring in meaningful free agents. I’m glad A-Rod’s on our side, but SEA/SF caught a break with cheap QBs- the $20M they save there can bring in 3-4 high quality starters at other positions. We can’t do that.

    Next year’s schedule is a beast, and I can’t imagine double digit wins. Assume a Viking sweep and splits with the Lions+Bears: 4-2;
    Remaining home games: ATL,CAR, NE, NYJ, PHI- best case we go 3-2, o/w 2-3
    Remaining road games: NO, TB, BUF, MIA, SEA
    best case is 2-3, o/w 1-4
    Survey Says,” 9-7 at best, but could be 7-9.”
    The mediocrity continues.

    • Phatgzus

      We could very well go 4-1 vs. those 5: the J-E-T-S Jets suck, we own ATL and they’ll be rebuilding, Philly ain’t that good and have a poor D, CAR is SEA Lite (and I believe playing in GB later in the season, i.e. fucking brrrrr), NE ain’t as good on the road, have a better run game but fumble a lot, Gronk is a beast but will probably be hurt to some extent, as will Amendola, and Edelman’s good as well, solid run D but outside of Talib (who Jordy can own) no secondary.

      And since when is is making it to the Playoffs 5 years running with a Lombardi Trophy and appearance while missing out MVP QB for half a season mediocrity?

  4. Phatgzus

    You guys are forgetting that all these free agents’ contracts are coming off the books (except Raji whose deal has already expired and is likely included in that cap number) so the Pack will have substantially more than $26M come free agency.

    • Savage57

      I think the number comprehends the absence of those contracts. I might be wrong, but they were somewhere around $9MM under the cap in 2013 and the $17MM delta came from somewhere.

    • Shawn iltarion

      Since those contracts don’t extend into 2014, they aren’t “on the books” in the first place.

      The 27M is where we are at right now for 2014.

      • Phatgzus

        I understand that, I mentioned their contracts because they are coming off the books, so that money (as well as that of the other 2014 FA’s 2013 contracts) will be added to the $9M or so we have now. What I keep forgetting is that salaries tend to increase with the age of the contract, so much of that money is already allocated. In short ya’ll be right, I’m wrong.
        There is still the cap increase, but it’s only supposed to be $3.3 M 9not the $5-10M I thought it would fall between). The cap is also going to increase in ’15 (estimated at approx. $4M) so there’s that as well.
        Def. gonna be tough to retain Shields, EDS, Flynn, and a handful of others, but hopefully we can move some money around or backload some contracts (just not to the extent that it kills our cap).

  5. TyKo Steamboat

    TT’s biggest flaw is not being able to “cut bait” with his draft picks…He is stubborn

    With that in mind…Mike Neal will be retained for a good price.

  6. Shawn iltarion

    I think Monty and some others on here need to accept the fact that Sam Shields has probably about a 25% chance of coming back.

    Shields is the kind of player who will demand a premium in free agency. That means you sign him before he gets there. The fact that the Packers were unable to means that he is determined to test free agency. That in turn means that the Packers will have to pay said premium to keep him, and I believe the chances of that are doubtful.

    With that in mind, here are my FA priorities.

    1. EDS – $3-4 M a season. If he wants more, ADIOS. Can’t spend big money on a center.
    2. Mike Neal – $2-4 M a season, maybe with incentives to push towards 5M. For a guy learning the position on the fly, he was pretty good last season. Should be better in the next couple, and Nick Perry is an injury risk.
    3. Andrew Quarless – $1-2 M. That is all he’s worth, but you need to sign this guy. He is clearly the best all around TE on the roster. The running game was clearly better when he was out there. If you don’t sign him, then that’s another position you have to draft for.
    4. BJ Raji – $4-6 M. That is Ryan Pickett money. You give it to Raji, if he’ll take it. You put him back in his best spot- NT. No big bonus. Just guarantee the first year instead. It isn’t so much that resigning him is a big priority, but resigning SOMEONE at this position IS- and he is the best candidate.
    5. John Kuhn – $1-3 M. He does more for this offense than he would for anyone else. Should be cheap.

    That is $19 M spent IF you took the max number for every player.

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