One of the frequent concerns that football fans have during the NFL offseason revolves around the league's Salary Cap. Specifically, the amount of room that a team has under the cap can drastically affect that team's strategy in free agency. In the case of Ted Thompson and the Green Bay Packers, it likely will dictate which of the team's departing free agents it will aggressively try to sign, while making little to no difference in the team's tendency to avoid highly-priced free agents from other teams.
One factor that plays into the amount of room a team has against the salary cap is the draft choices it possesses. The Packers have seven picks in the 2014 draft, the 21st pick in each round, but they are also projected for a pair of compensatory picks in rounds three and six. With this projection in mind, it's time to look at how much "effective" cap room the Packers really have to play with.
There are a few other assumptions that play into this calculation, however. The first of these is that the salary cap will be set at $126.3 million, which appears to be the lowest possible number that it can be for 2014. Second, we are assuming that the top 51 cap hits on the roster contribute to the cap, which is the case in the offseason. Finally, we assume that the Packers' draft choices will each take a spot on the top 51 list from a player making a league-minimum $420,000 salary. Again, this is a conservative assumption, as the players bumped off that list may have higher salaries than that or the draft picks themselves may not crack the top 51.
Here's how it breaks down. Using the last pick in the third and sixth rounds (picks 96 and 192) to project the cap effect of the Packers' compensatory picks and not adjusting their other selections to take into account other team's compensatory choices, we find that the Packers' draft class as it sits now will count a maximum of $1.875 million against the team's 2014 salary cap.
(Note: all projections for the individual draft pick slots come from OverTheCap.com.)
|Pick (Round)||2014 Cap Hit|
|96 (3 compensatory)||$548,750|
|192 (6 compensatory)||$442,058|
|Nine minimum contracts||$3,780,000|
|NET CAP SPACE NEEDED||$1,875,087|
OverTheCap.com is currently projecting the Packers with just under $28.5 million in cap space, taking into account the rollover from the 2013 season and dead money from the contracts of players who were cut in 2013. That site projected that the Packers' rookies would take up $1.724 million in cap space, but they did not account for any compensatory picks.
A team's placement in the first round holds a great deal of weight in how much cap space their rookie class takes up. The Texans' #1 overall pick, for example, will carry a cap hit of $4.05 million, compared to the hit of $1.516 million for the 21st pick.
Using our rookie pool projection of $1.875 million, we find that the Packers should have no less than $26.623 million to spend under the 2014 cap. In fact, it's likely that the number is closer to $27 million due to the conservative assumptions above.
With decisions to be made on a number of key free agents like cornerback Sam Shields and Evan Dietrich-Smith along with potential extensions for wide receivers Randall Cobb and Jordy Nelson, it's nice to know just how much cap room will be taken up by the 2014 rookie class. That will also come in handy to calculate effective cap space if the Packers do elect to use a Franchise Tag or Transition Tag on someone over the next two weeks.
Fans of the Green and Gold should be pleased to know that signing Ted Thompson's draft picks should add less than $2 million to the team's cap hit. Thus, the team will have plenty of resources (about 27 million of them) to make appealing offers to the players they wish to sign or extend for 2014.
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