Fitting Rodgers' and Matthews' Contracts Into the 2013 Salary Cap

Kevin C. Cox

We try to break down how much actual cap room the Packers can use to increase their superstars' contracts while keeping the team under the salary cap in 2013.

With number values starting to come in on Aaron Rodgers' and Clay Matthews' contract extensions, many of us are concerned about how the Green Bay Packers are going to fit in under the salary cap in 2013 and beyond. Therefore, we have decided to try to project how much cap room the team will actually be able to use in order to front-load these contracts while still making sure that the team is not breaking the ultimate league rule.

The NFLPA is now publishing a public report of the 51 most expensive contracts of each team, which are the ones that count against the salary cap. We have the Packers numbers below, which show that the team has $17.8 million in cap space available currently.

Quantity Packers $
Salary Cap $123,000,000
2012 Carryover $7,010,832
Total Team Cap $130,010,832
Current 49 Contracts $113,022,178
Cap Room $17,799,553

Now we move to the rookie pool. Since the new rookie wage scale was initiated in the most recent CBA, each pick has an amount of money that can be assigned for the cap overall and for the player's first year. The team then has a set amount of money that they will have to pay their rookies, and they know this before the draft even begins. The Packers' numbers are below, courtesy of Over The Cap.

Current Cap Room $17,799,553
2013 Rookie Cap Charge $4,844,914
Effective Cap Room $12,954,619

A note here: currently the Packers only have 49 players on contract, and will have to charge two more contracts against the cap. However, the draftees will push that number above and beyond the 51. It's also possible that not all the draftees' contracts will be in the top 51 - so we will for the time being count only the top two draft picks' contracts against the cap.

Effective Cap Room (All draftees) $12,954,619
Credit for draftees' salaries below top 51 $2,787,498
Final Effective top-51 Cap space $15,742,117

This so-called "final" value is neither final nor an exact value by any stretch, of course. It is entirely possible that the Packers could sign another free agent or will choose to extend another player this season. But for now it's what I'll use as the amount of money that the Packers can afford to spend to extend Rodgers and Matthews.

Now we get to the players' contracts. Let's say Rodgers' extension will give him $23 million per year and Matthews will get $13.5 million annually. We'll compare those average values to what their cap hit is currently scheduled to be in 2013 (from Spotrac.com) and see what the difference is.

Player Current 2013 Cap # Projected Annual Value Difference
Aaron Rodgers $9,750,000 $23,000,000 $13,250,000
Clay Matthews $4,910,000 $13,500,000 $8,590,000
Total $14,660,000 $36,500,000 $21,840,000

If we compare that total difference to the amount of effective cap space that we project the team to have in 2013, that leaves a difference of $6,097,883. This is the total amount of compensation for both players that would need to be deferred into future years on their contracts. I'm actually pleasantly surprised that the amount is as low as it is. They would be able to defer that as a single $7.65 million signing bonus as shown below.

Year Cap Effect of Bonus
2013 $1.53 M
2014 $1.53 M
2015 $1.53 M
2016 $1.53 M
2017 $1.53 M
Total $7.65 M ($6.12 deferred to future years)

All in all, that doesn't seem like a horrible deal and would not be likely to limit the Packers much, especially compared to the annual salaries on the deals. If anything, this rough, back-of-the-envelope calculation encourages me that the Packers will be able to find ways to pay these two stars. Obviously, there will be challenges in re-signing other key pieces around them, but I am confident that the team will be able to function with these contracts on board.

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