Salary cap update

The Green Bay Packers have been awarded $2.527 million by the NFL Management Council to sign their six draft picks.<p>

The $2.527 million is included within the team's salary cap of $71.101 million for the 2002 season. The Packers' rookie cap ranks 29th in the NFL; Houston's $6.35 million tops the league, according to a report in the Green Bay News Chronicle.

The Packers are $529,000 under the salary cap, but the Packers are expected to waive wide receiver Antonio Freeman in June, freeing up $4.3 million, which was Freeman's 2002 salary-cap number. Green Bay also is expected to restructure the contract of safety LeRoy Butler, who has a salary-cap number of $3.232 million for 2002.

If the Packers release Freeman and restructure Butler's contract they will have money under their cap to sign veterans after June 1 when other NFL teams dump higher-paid players to clear room under their salary caps.

The Packers probably will seek help at middle linebacker and possibly a return specialist.

Jacksonville is expected to release middle linebacker Hardy Nickerson. Linebackers currently available in free agency include former Packer Bernardo Harris, Stephen Boyd and Ed McDaniel.

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