With the adjustment, the Packers are about $25 million under the unadjusted salary cap of $116,729,000 for 2008. The Packers picked up cap space after trading defensive tackle Corey Williams to the Cleveland Browns on Friday and releasing tight end Bubba Franks prior to the start of free agency.
An NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement regulation has revealed that the Packers, and nearly two-thirds of the 32 other NFL teams have much more salary cap space this season due to adjustments that allow teams to manipulate their salary cap to the point where their cap figure winds up millions of dollars higher than some other teams. The legalese can be found in Article XXIV, Section 7, section ii, paragraph c, part (iii) of the CBA.
In general, NFL teams can create a credit for the next cap year through some shrewd moves in a season where they have extra cap space available. The team builds performance bonuses into players' contracts that qualify under the league's "likely to be earned" bonus categories to use up remaining cap space in their current season. But in many cases, these clauses are put into players' contracts who have little chance of actually hitting those performance goals. As a result, at the end of the year, the team has unused "likely to be earned" dollars that — under the current CBA — are then credited to them in the next league year.
Entering the league year, including any contract tenders they made to restricted free agents and exclusive rights free agents, the Packers had $106.7 million committed to their top 51 players, according to data compiled by Scout.com. That left the Packers with $19.45 million to work with heading into free agency. By dealing Williams to the Browns, the Packers were able to put the franchise tag number that they tendered him ($6.36 million) back onto their cap for a total of $25.81 million under the unadjusted total of $116,729,000.
To learn more about this little-known provision in the CBA, check out this story by SI.com's Reuben Frank. Frank also has a list of all 32 NFL teams and the adjusted salary cap totals.