With free agency starting on Tuesday afternoon, the Green Bay Packers and the NFL’s other 31 teams finally have the financial parameters in place.
The league announced on Sunday that the salary cap had been set at $120.6 million — a mere $225,000 increase from last year.
What does that mean for the Packers?
During the offseason, only the 51 highest-paid players count against the cap. For Green Bay, that’s $120,735,169, a source told Packer Report recently. However, the Packers are allowed to roll over any cap space left over from 2011. That amounts to $5,481,640.00, according to our source. That, in essence, bumps Green Bay’s cap to $126,081,640, leaving the team $5,346,471 under the cap.
That’s not much space if the Packers intend on re-signing veteran center Scott Wells. The Packers could gain about $10.594 million of cap space by releasing Chad Clifton (2012 cap figure of $5,593,750) and Donald Driver (2012 cap figure of $5 million).
Also, the official franchise tag and restricted free agent numbers are in, not that the figures pertain to Green Bay, which declined the option of franchising Wells or quarterback Matt Flynn:
Quarterback ($14.436 million), running back ($7.742 million), wide receiver $9.515 million), tight end $5.446 million), offensive line ($9.383 million), defensive end ($10.605 million), defensive tackle $7.96 million), linebacker $8.856 million), cornerback $10.281 million), safety $6.212 million) and kicker-punter ($2.654 million).
The restricted free-agent tenders went up 5 percent: $1.26 million for original round/right of first refusal, $1.927 million (second-round tender) and $2.742 million (first-round tender). The RFA tenders also don’t apply to the Packers since they do not have any restricted free agents.
Free agency begins Tuesday afternoon at 3 p.m. CT. Besides Wells and Flynn, other free agents include running back Ryan Grant, defensive end Howard Green, cornerbacks Jarrett Bush and Pat Lee and outside linebacker Erik Walden.
The delay in deciding on the cap for 2012 occurred because player costs each year are a combination of cap and benefits. An increase in the cost of benefits was threatening to result in a salary cap that would have been lower than last year.
Negotiations between the league and NFLPA resulted in the compromise.
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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 email@example.com, or leave him a question in Packer Report’s subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/PackerReport.