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Cheese Curds, 6/2: Packers continue salary cap gymnastics with Tonyan’s contract

Green Bay continued to shift cap money from 2021 into 2022 with a creative structuring of an RFA deal.

Philadelphia Eagles v Green Bay Packers Photo by Dylan Buell/Getty Images

Late last week, the Green Bay Packers and tight end Robert Tonyan agreed to a new contract. Tonyan was a restricted free agent whom the team gave a second-round tender, worth $3.384 million for the 2021 season.

And although Tonyan will indeed get that amount of money this season, it will not be according to the typical tender structure. If he had simply signed the tender, he would be working on a simple one-year deal for the tender amount, all consisting of non-guaranteed base salary.

Instead, Tonyan is doing the Packers a favor — at least where the 2021 salary cap is concerned — and taking a big chunk of that as a signing bonus to spread out the cap money. Here’s the report from ESPN’s Field Yates:

This structure gives Tonyan a base salary of $1.035 million and allows the team to charge just $469,800 of his signing bonus to the 2021 cap, reducing his cap number to just over $1.5 million for this season. However, the rest of that money will accelerate in 2022, adding nearly $2 million onto the Packers’ already-ugly cap situation next season, when the cap will be no more than $208.2 million.

For Tonyan, there’s no downside. He got to cash a check for almost $2.4 million over the weekend rather than waiting for all of his compensation to come in the form of base salary. But this is just the latest in a lengthy set of cap-influenced contracts and restructures that the Packers have executed this season, using void years in particular to unload money into 2022 and beyond. And the team will probably need to do a little bit more yet before this offseason is over.

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This report from a few days ago doesn't even include the extra $1.9 million or so in cap space that will shift into 2022 as a part of Tonyan's contract.

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