Free agency will stretch salary cap

A dozen key players contracts' expire after the 2009 season, including Aaron Rodgers, Chad Clifton, Aaron Kampman and Greg Jennings.

The Green Bay Packers have the luxury of being about $32 million under the salary cap. Two years from now, either they won't have that luxury or they won't be fielding a credible team.

The free-agent class following the upcoming season is manageable: Offensive tackle Mark Tauscher and linebacker Brady Poppinga are the only starters who will be unrestricted free agents.

The following offseason, however, will be a different story. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers, guards Jason Spitz and Daryn Colledge, offensive tackle Chad Clifton and receivers Donald Driver and Greg Jennings will be unrestricted free agents after the 2009 season.

And that's just the offensive side of the ball.

Three-fourths of what could be the Packers' starting defensive line this season — defensive tackles Ryan Pickett and Johnny Jolly and defensive end Aaron Kampman — will be free agents, as will safety Nick Collins, among others.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson has taken a proactive approach, frequently giving long-term extensions to players before they hit free agency. Tauscher is probably tops on his list, even though he'll turn 31 before training camp.

Here is a list of the Packers' key free agents.


Punter Jon Ryan (restricted)

Offensive tackle Mark Tauscher

Defensive end Michael Montgomery (restricted)

Safety Atari Bigby (restricted)

Defensive tackle Colin Cole

Linebacker Brady Poppinga


Quarterback Aaron Rodgers

Cornerback Will Blackmon

Safety Nick Collins

Guard Jason Spitz

Guard Daryn Colledge

Defensive end Aaron Kampman

Offensive tackle Chad Clifton

Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett

Wide receiver Donald Driver

Wide receiver Greg Jennings

Defensive end Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila

Defensive tackle Johnny Jolly


Defensive end Cullen Jenkins

Wide receiver James Jones

Kicker Mason Crosby


Cornerback Al Harris

Linebacker A.J. Hawk

Center Scott Wells

Tight end Donald Lee


Cornerback Charles Woodson

Linebacker Nick Barnett

Defensive tackle Justin Harrell

Steve Lawrence is a frequent contributor to E-mail him at

Packer Report Top Stories