Monday was the deadline to apply some of Wells' new contract to the 2006 cap. Cap space not used during the NFL's league year cannot be pushed over to the next year, so the Packers had to use it or lose it.
They used it on Wells, a promising center in his first full season as a starter. It's a five-year, $15 million contract through the 2011 season. Some $3 million of the deal will be counted against this year's cap.
A source told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that Wells' base salary will jump from $425,000 to about $3 million this season. Signing and roster bonuses to be paid before the start of next season are worth an additional $2 million.
Because of the bonus money, Wells will be paid small base salaries the next two seasons — $510,000 next season and $740,000 for 2008, according to the Green Bay Press-Gazette — which will help the Packers in future caps.
Wells was a seventh-round pick in the 2004 draft. He was scheduled to become a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
The team hasn't announced the deal, but it was reported by the Journal Sentinel, Press-Gazette and ESPN, among other outlets.
With Wells signed, the Packers are about $4 million under the cap. The Packers can continue signing players to contract extensions, but only the prorated amount of signing bonus can be included in the 2006 cap, not salary.
Other candidates to get an extension are linebacker Nick Barnett, whose contract expires at the end of next season, and maybe cornerback Al Harris, who wants a new deal even though his contract runs through 2009.
Another possibility is running back Ahman Green, who signed a one-year contract to play this season after suffering a season-ending thigh injury last year. Another player who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season is tight end David Martin, who after several disappointing seasons has become a go-to target in the passing game.
Other young players whose contracts end after the season include defensive tackles Colin Cole and Cullen Jenkins and kicker Dave Rayner.
Wells' salary $1.5 million for 2009, $2.25 million in 2010 and $2.75 million in 2011.