Now that the 2013 NFL Draft is complete and the Green Bay Packers also have both of the big contract extensions finished, it is time to start thinking about what this means for the future of the franchise. Specifically, we will dig into how this affects the NFL salary cap and what sort of money the Packers have left over to potentially extend long-term contract offers to other players.
The first estimate of the Packers' cap room comes from the Green Bay Press-Gazette's Rob Demovsky:
If you want the exact amount of salary-cap space, down to the dollar, the #Packers have after Rodgers' deal, it's $13,533,765.— Rob Demovsky (@RobDemovsky) April 29, 2013
To confirm this, I looked it up on OverTheCap.com, which keeps close track of all NFL salaries and financial information, and they have a slightly different number: $13,493,788, a number which includes rookie salaries in 2013. In any case, it can be reasonably assumed that the team has approximately $13.5 million in wiggle room for the 2013 season, with a substantial amount of money coming free in 2014 with a large number of players completing contracts after this year. It is also reasonable to assume that the Packers would try to extend at least a few of these players before or during the 2013 season to spread some of their cap hit out against this year's cap.
A few names immediately come to mind as likely candidates for new deals. B.J. Raji is the name that many people will think of first, but my attention first goes to Sam Shields, who is currently still under his restricted free agent tender. If Ted Thompson were to lock him up for a long-term deal before this season, he would likely be able to get a relatively team-friendly deal that could keep a top cornerback in Titletown for the foreseeable future.
Another name who I would love to see locked up for a considerable amount of time is wide receiver Randall Cobb. It's true that his rookie deal does not expire until after the 2014 season and that James Jones will need a new deal after this year, but Cobb is a much more versatile piece in the Packers' passing game. As a slot receiver, he has some of the crisper route-running you'll see this side of Greg Jennings and he's got plenty of speed to burn. Jones came on very strong last season, but ultimately with all that Cobb does, I would rather see him locked up for a long period of time.
The third player is Morgan Burnett. I know that he has not yet developed into that Nick Collins-type safety, but his numbers are still solid if not spectacular and a while back I broke down one good omen for his potential to develop into a top-level safety this season. I believe in Burnett, and while I acknowledge that I would like to see a few more games out of him, I think that if he shows any sign of Pro Bowl caliber play in the first few games he should be extended immediately.
Other than these names, which Packer would you most like to see get a contract extension before or during the 2013 season?
Check out all of Acme Packing Company's draft coverage: 2013 NFL Draft Central | Green Bay Selects Datone Jones in First Round | Green Bay Drafts Eddie Lacy in Second Round | Complete List of Packers' Draft Picks| Packers Undrafted Free Agent Tracker