Cap-Friendly Deal Provides Some Flexibility

The Packers have a fair amount of cap space to deal with, though that money should disappear quickly. We rewind the start of free agency and take a look at what's ahead.

Julius Peppers' contract leaves the Green Bay Packers' salary cap in good standing.

Peppers' agent, Carl Carey, told ESPN.com's Josina Anderson that Peppers' three-year, $30 million deal includes $7.5 million guaranteed and total first-year compensation of $8.5 million.

With Peppers getting a $1 million base salary along with the up-front money, his cap charge presumably will be just $3.5 million in 2014. To break that down, the guaranteed money is spread over the length of the contract for salary-cap purposes. So, that's $2.5 million for each of the three seasons; $2.5 million plus his $1 million base gets you to that $3.5 million cap figure for 2014.

Thus, Peppers doesn't eat up much of this year's cap, which is a good thing, because the Packers will need every nickle.

If the Packers sever ties with the 34-year-old Peppers after this season, the remainder of the guaranteed money — $5 million — would be dumped on the 2015 cap as "dead money." The other $21.5 million due in 2015 and 2016 would disappear into thin air.

That makes the contract a win-win: Peppers gets $8.5 million and the Packers aren't crippling themselves for the future.

According to NFLPA salary data, the Packers were about $24.1 million under the cap before re-signing B.J. Raji and adding Peppers. Cornerback Sam Shields' cap number is $5.563 million, linebacker/defensive end Mike Neal's cap number is $3.75 million, linebacker Jamari Lattimore's cap number is $1.431 million and tight end Andrew Quarless' cap number is $1.25 million. Those four contracts took up almost $12 million of the salary cap.

Details of Raji's contract haven't been released, though it's been reported as a one-year deal worth $4 million. If Peppers' cap figure indeed is $3.5 million, that would mean the Packers have used about $19.5 million of their cap space.

Added together, those six deals reduce the Packers' available cap space about $16.6 million.

In that number, the Packers will need to sign their rookie class. Last year, the Packers were allowed to spend $6.131 million for their draft picks and rookie free agents. With the league-wide increase in salary cap and Green Bay picking 21st instead of 26th, that number figures to increase, as well. That, in theory, might give the Packers about $10 million to complete their roster. They'll need to tuck away additional money for in-season signings to fill voids created by injuries. And they'll need money to extend the contracts of Jordy Nelson ($2.55 million base; $3.975 million cap) and Randall Cobb ($812,648 base; $1.02 million cap).

So, that $16.6 million isn't nearly as much as it seems.


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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at packwriter2002@yahoo.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.

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