GREEN BAY, Wis. – The text had more exclamation points than it did words.
After responding to a question about how happy he was Tuesday afternoon, Aaron RodgersHad announced his returnTo the Green Bay PackersBoth the receiver and sender Davante AdamsThese were retained on the franchise tagFor now, a member the coaching staff replied:
Now the Packers' offseason can begin.
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There’s no more worry about whether they have to implement Plan A, B or C.
Brian Gutekunst, the general manager can limit his players. keep, cut or restructureMake his plan for free agency. It starts in one week.
Russ Ball is vice president of football operations and can make it all work within the salary limit.
There’s no way to know exactly how much work Ball still needs to do on the cap until Rodgers’ contract is finalized. Before Tuesday’s developments, the Packers were $27.5 million over their salary cap for this season. Add another $20.145 million to that – the value of the Adams’ franchise tag.
At this point, Rodgers and Adams combine to account for 25.4 percent of the Packers’ 2022 salary cap.
So how can they field a competitive roster when they’re $47-plus million over the cap a week before free agency? Those numbers don’t matter until March 16, when teams must be under their cap.
Whatever the terms of Rodgers’ new deal are when it’s finalized, it will lower his cap number significantly from the $46.144 million that is currently on the Packers’ books in what is the final year of his old contract. The Packers are stuck with the $19.173 million signing bonus proration from his last contract on this year’s cap, but Ball can structure the deal so that the cap charge comes in well below that $46.144 million mark, perhaps even cutting it by 40 percent.
Adams would be a good candidate for a long-term agreement that would have a lower franchise tag and a cap charge.
Both deals could hint at Rodgers's intentions to retire in Green Bay after the completion of the deal.
Rodgers stated that he wanted to be in July after he returned from a season of discontent. “involved in conversations that affect my ability to do my job.” He rattled of a list of veteran players – from the likes of Charles Woodson to Julius Peppers to Randall Cobb – who were released or not re-signed at various points in his career and believed he could have offered consultation about those decisions.
Rodgers kept praising Gutekunst's moves throughout the season. Then, after the season ended, Rodgers said that they had frequent meetings to exchange ideas.
This brings the Packers to the point where Rodgers' return means that they will reload, rather than rebuild. Remember Rodgers stated immediately after last season's end that he would reload rather than rebuild. did not want to be part of a rebuild.
They may still have to do it with just one veteran. According to a source, they may need an outside linebacker. Za'Darius SmithSmith believes he'll be released. Smith, who only played 18 snaps during the regular season last year, has the second largest cap number on the team at $28.1 million. The Packers would gain $15.75 millions in cap space if they cut him.
Cobb ($6.8 Million in cap space if released now, $8.25M if released after June 1), offensive-lineman Billy Turner($3.142 Million in Cap Savings Now or $5.812 Post- June 1), tight End Marcedes Lewis($2.95 million cap savings or $4,000,000 post-June 1, and kicker Mason CrosbyThe largest savings would be at least $2.9 million (or $3.4 million after June 1st)
They might not have to release all of them, but they could also restructure some of their agreements. There are likely to be no release of veterans — like the linebacker outside. Preston SmithSafety Adrian Amos— could also be candidates to restructure. Then there’s cornerback Jaire AlexanderWhile he is still scheduled to play on his fifth year option of $13.294million, he will almost certainly agree to an extension that would lower the cap number before the season begins.
All this should allow the Packers at least to retain some of their key free agents, linebacker De'Vondre CampbellCornerback Rasul Douglas, tight end Robert TonyanBoth the receiver and sender Marquez Valdes-Scantling. Agents who are familiar with the market estimate that Campbell will attract $10 million annually, Tonyan $7million and Douglas $5 million respectively, while Valdes-Scantling should bring $5 million. Receiver Allen LazardThis restricted-free agent would likely receive a second round tender of $3.986 millions.
Whether there’s any room left to sign free agents from other teams won’t be known until after all this work is done. At least it's possible to get started.