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Packers open up 2020 salary cap space by adjusting Aaron Rodgers’ contract

Green Bay effectively opens up around $8.6 million in space next year by converting some roster bonus money to a signing bonus.

Green Bay Packers v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images

On Friday, the Green Bay Packers made a quiet but significant transaction that will affect the team’s salary cap in the next few years. According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Packers converted a significant portion of Aaron Rodgers’ offseason roster bonus into a signing bonus, allowing the team to spread the salary cap hit of that money over several years.

The bonus due Rodgers in March is $19.5 million, but the team paid out $14.26 million this week. That means that one-fifth of that number, or about $2.85 million, will go on the Packers’ cap each year from 2019 through 2023 instead of all going against the cap in 2020. The upshot of this move is to free up some significant cap space next season and offload it into 2021, 2022, and 2023.

The Packers currently carry about $8.9 million in cap space in 2019, which will drop to around $7.1 million once the transaction becomes official. Rodgers’ cap charge for 2020 will reduce by $11.4 million, but because the team’s rollover from 2019 is lowered, the effective increase in the 2020 cap becomes about $8.56 million.

Rodgers’ contract now looks something like the following, with numbers adjusted based on Over The Cap’s contract breakdown:

Rodgers New Contract

Year Base Salary Signing Bonus Proration Roster Bonus Workout Bonus Cap Hit Old Cap Hit
Year Base Salary Signing Bonus Proration Roster Bonus Workout Bonus Cap Hit Old Cap Hit
2019 $1.10 $14.35 $13.40 $0.50 $29.35 $26.50
2020 $1.10 $14.35 $5.24 $0.50 $21.19 $32.60
2021 $14.70 $14.35 $6.80 $0.50 $36.35 $33.50
2022 $25.00 $14.35 $0.00 $0.50 $39.85 $37.00
2023 $25.00 $2.85 $0.00 $0.50 $28.35 $25.50

One reason for this move may be to free up some cap space to help the team sign players like Kenny Clark or Blake Martinez to a contract extension. Doing so before Saturday would allow the team to prorate a portion of those players’ signing bonuses onto the 2019 cap. The Packers did sign Davante Adams and Corey Linsley to extensions just before the finale of the 2017 season, taking advantage of this accounting tactic.