So the burning question is who will be in and who will be out in Green Bay for the 2013-2014 season. While most pundits are focusing on possible coaching changing, a few are focusing on the forgone conclusion that the Packers will be without the services of numerous veteran players who will part via free agency or through contract termination. Before jumping to those conclusions, let's educate everyone on the current salary cap situation. Special thanks to spotrac.com for their salary statistics.
The salary cap for 2013 is going to remain flat. That means the Packers can expect to field another season of a 120.6 million dollar cap.
Here are the figures for their roster: *Denotes Projected Starter
Name Salary Year of Free Agency
UFA = Unrestricted Free Agent
RFA = Restricted Free Agent
Aaron Rodgers* 10.250 million (2015 - UFA)
Graham Harrell 630k (2014 - RFA)
John Kuhn 2.6 million (2014 - UFA)
Alex Green 700k (2015 - UFA)
James Starks 600k (2014 - UFA)
Brandon Saine 555k (2014 - RFA)
DuJuan Harris* 465k (2015 - UFA)
Jordy Nelson* 4.025 million (2015 - UFA)
James Jones* 3.75 million (2014 - UFA)
Randall Cobb* 875k (2015 - UFA)
Jermichael Finley* 8.75 million (2014 - UFA)
Andrew Quarless 676k (2014 - UFA)
DJ Williams 604k (2015 - UFA)
Ryan Taylor 570k (2015 - UFA)
Josh Sitton* 5.25 million (2017 - UFA)
Jeff Saturday 3.750 million (2014 - UFA) No Penalty if released
TJ Lang* 3.1 million (2017 - UFA)
Bryan Bulaga* 2.125 million (2015 - UFA)
Derek Sherrod 1.8 million (2015 - UFA)
Marshall Newhouse* 577k (2014 - UFA)
Greg Van Roten 480k (2015 - RFA)
Don Barclay 480k (2015 - RFA)
Ryan Pickett* 6.7 million (2014 - UFA)
BJ Raji* 6.195 million (2014 - UFA)
Mike Neal 1.042 million (2014 - UFA)
Jerel Worthy 901k (2016 - UFA)
CJ Wilson* 588k (2014 - UFA)
Mike Daniels 555k (2016 - UFA)
Jordan Miller 480k (2015 - RFA)
AJ Hawk* 7.05 million (2016 - UFA)
Desmond Bishop* 4.964 million (2015 - UFA)
Clay Mathews* 2.6725 million (2014 - UFA)
Nick Perry* 1.704 million (2016 - RFA)
Brad Jones 630k (2013 - UFA)
DJ Smith 580k (2015 - UFA)
Jamari Lattimore 557k (2014 - RFA)
Terrell Manning 523k (2016 - UFA)
Dezman Moses 481k (2015 - RFA)
Charles Woodson* 10 million (2015 - UFA)
Tramon Williams* 7.4 million (2015 - UFA)
Jarrett Bush 1.8 million (2015 - UFA)
Morgan Burnett* 850k (2014 - UFA)
Casey Hayward 752k (2016 - UFA)
Davon House 630k (2015 - UFA)
MD Jennings 555k (2014 - RFA)
Jerron McMillian 555k (2016 - UFA)
Mason Crosby* 3.15 million (2016 - UFA)
Tim Masthay* 1.005 million (2017 - UFA)
Brett Goode* 821k (2016 - UFA)
Total Salary $115.7525 currently under contract
4.8475 million under the cap
8.5975 under the cap after Saturday is released
Restricted Free Agency Tenders (2012 but with a flat cap, these numbers should be about the same)
First Round 2.742 million
Second Round 1.927 million
Right of First Refusal/Original Round 1.26 million
2013 Unrestricted Free Agents:
2013 Restricted Free Agents:
2013 Exclusive Rights Free Agents: (will sign for the minimum)
Jeremy Ross (480k)
Jarrett Boykin (480k)
So what does this mean for the 2013-14 Green Bay Packers? First off, changes are going to have to be made to the roster. Assuming a draft salary pool of approximately 6 million dollars (estimating a hair high here), they've got about 3.5 million to work with on their roster (after Jeff Saturday is released).
Resigning their own:
Cedric Benson - Unless he's willing to take a veteran's minimum contract and the Packers are interested, don't expect him back. They were basically 12-4 without him. I can't see them going back to him.
Ryan Grant - See Cedric Benson. The fact is that he actually performed better than Benson did overall, but by the time Grant was on the team, the offensive line was also performing better
Greg Jennings - I'd love to see him back, but he's looking for $11 million a year. Not going to happen in Green Bay, and if it does, the Packers would have to really cut someone important (see Charles Woodson). They still are three deep at WR on the team without Jennings
Donald Driver - Green Bay hopes he retires, and even though they didn't give him the swan song he was hoping for, don't be surprised if they try to bring him back as a low-ranking coach. Donald has indicated that he wants to play though, it just won't be for the Packers as they are committed to developing some younger talent.
Evan Dietrich-Smith - The Packers need to target him as their number one unrestricted free agent priority. As the Jeff Saturday experiment failed, expect them to make a move as soon as possible to wrap Dietrich-Smith up for 2-3 years. Money will be tight to do this though.
Eric Walden - Unless he's willing to play for the minimum, he won't be back. He was putting together some pretty good tape over the last month of the season (minus the 2nd Vikings game), but the tape he put out there against San Francisco was embarrassing.
Tom Crabtree - Will probably receive a right of first refusal contract, especially with Quarless still not recovered. That will cost the packers 1.26 million for him to get a chance to make the roster again. Otherwise, they may let him walk in restricted and try to resign him for cheaper later.
Robert Francois - Unless he's an exclusive rights free agent (and I'm not entirely sure he isn't), I wouldn't expect him back. He's a special teamer who can be replaced. If he's back, it's for the minimum.
Frank Zombo - Due to injuries and an inability to even got on the field when healthy, he won't be back unless the team has exclusive rights for him still (I don't think they do on this one though). He could be brought back as a minimum salary guy.
Sam Shields - He is priority number one in restricted free agency He is going to cost them at least 1.9 million dollars for a second round tender and it could go higher at 2.742 million if they go with a first. I would not be surprised if a team jumped on him at a second round tender and the Packers cannot hope to match. He's young, a starter on a winning team, and had a very solid season. In a predominantly passing league, the Packers need 4 corners to match up, and shields is clearly one of those guys.
Note as well that in 2014-15 season, the Packers have 12 unrestricted free agents (including Raji, Mathews, Jones, Finley, and Burnett) and 4 restricted free agents. All decisions in 2013 need to keep 2014 in mind. Paying Shields a long-term contract could jeopardize the Packers ability to sign Mathews, Raji, Jones, Finley, and/or Burnett). Of course, giving Shields a restricted tender now makes it all the less likely he'll be back in 2014 as he'll be added to the unrestricted pile then. Further, quarterbacks are the only position where contracts are often extended two years before they are due, meaning Rodgers would be added to that pile as well.
Luckily for the Packers, however, the salary cap is projected to increase significantly in the 2014 season. It would seem that the Packers may have planned for this all along, but it still doesn't mean they won't tighten their belt this year.