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NFL sets salary cap at $182.5 million for 2021 season; Packers currently sit $9.4M over

It’s time for Russ Ball to earn his salary.

Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Lachlan Cunningham/Getty Images

It’s finally official. The NFL has informed its teams on Wednesday morning that it has settled on a salary cap number for the 2021 season and, as expected, it is pretty close to the lowest possible number as communicated a few weeks ago.

According to multiple league insiders, the base cap number is $182.5 million for 2021.

For the Green Bay Packers, this means that their adjusted cap number, which includes rollover from 2020 and other adjustments, is $186,174,018. With the Packers’ Top 51 contracts currently accounting for $191,497,057, according to Overthecap.com, plus $4,103,142 in dead money, that leaves them $9,426,181 over the cap at present.

The Packers will have seven days to trim that amount of money from their books for the upcoming season. Teams must be below the cap number when the new league year begins at 4:00 PM Eastern on Wednesday, March 17th.

With the cap number coming in on the low end, this means that the urgency for the Packers to find some contract adjustments — and probably to make some veteran cuts — is ratcheted up a bit. The Packers may need to part ways with players like Preston Smith and Dean Lowry, while Aaron Rodgers could be primed for a restructure of his deal to shift cap money into 2022 and beyond. The team also would surely like to extend Davante Adams’ contract, which ends after the upcoming season, and could free up some 2021 cap money while doing so.

Keep in mind that the Packers must get significantly below the cap at some point. The Top 51 rule — which states that teams only need to count the 51 highest cap numbers in the offseason — vanishes at the start of the regular season. Additionally, the team will need space to sign their draft picks and to use tenders on restricted and exclusive-rights free agents.

Expect news of these moves to start trickling out this week before ramping up over the weekend and in the early part of next week.

Note: this article previously indicated that the Packers’ dead money was included in the $191M Top 51 number. That number did not include the dead money, though the $4.1M in dead money was factored into the cap space calculation. The numbers have been clarified.