This is the latest article in a series of posts that will examine veteran players on the Green Bay Packers’ roster who are candidates for a contract restructure or outright release due to salary cap considerations. We continue today with a deep dive into Adrian Amos’ contract.
Another member of the Green Bay Packers’ exceptional 2019 free agent class, safety Adrian Amos came over from the Chicago Bears on a four-year, $36 million contract that March. It’s difficult to argue that Amos has been anything other than a success in that time, as he solidified a position that the Packers had been struggling with for some time while providing excellent leadership and versatility.
Amos heads into 2022 with the coming season being the final year of that contract, but carrying a cap hit of almost $12 million for the coming season. That’s an awfully large number, and one that the Packers are sure to try to reduce in order to get under the cap before the start of the new league year in March.
To free up cap space in 2021, the Packers converted a little over $5 million of Amos’ base salary last season into a signing bonus, dividing it out through the final two years of his deal plus three void years into 2025. That type of cap manipulation is an option once again in 2022, but unlike a few other possible cap casualties, a contract extension seems like a very plausible option for this player.
Base salary: $7,000,000
Prorated signing bonus cap hit: $4,082,000
Per-game active roster bonuses: $400,000 total
Workout bonus: $500,000
Total cap hit: $11,982,000
Amos has three void years on his deal, added on before the 2021 season when the Packers converted $5.41 million of his 2021 base salary into a signing bonus. Those void years each carry $1.082 million in prorated signing bonus money on the cap for a total of $3.246 million in future years.
Releasing Amos would free up a little over $4.5 million in salary cap space. The Packers would be on the hook for his $4.082 million in signing bonus money plus the additional $3.246 million from the void years, which would accelerate and hit the cap immediately in 2022.
Here’s the problem, of course: Amos has been one of the Packers’ best players on defense, providing a steady, consistent presence while contributing with a handful of splash plays. He has proven to be well worthy of the contract that he received before the 2019 season, and the Packers would likely feel it well worth the $8 million or so it would cost to keep him around — particularly since cutting him would only free up $4.654 million in cap space for the coming season.
One option for the Packers is to restructure Amos’ contract by converting much of his $7 million base salary into a signing bonus. If the team thinks that they are unlikely to keep Amos past 2022, this is the best way to offload his cap costs to the 2023 season.
As much as $5.88 million of Amos’ base could be restructured this way. Splitting up that money with different numbers of void years looks as follows:
1 void year: $2.94M cap savings in 2022; $6.186M dead cap hit in 2023
2 void years: $3.92M cap savings in 2022; $7.166M dead cap hit in 2023
3 void years: $4.41M cap savings in 2022; $7.656M dead cap hit in 2023
4 void years: $4.704M cap savings in 2022; $7.95M dead cap hit in 2023
Going with three void years (which Amos already has from his previous bonus conversion) would keep his cap hit almost even across 2022 and 2023, assuming he were to move on after this season.
However, there’s one other strong possibility here.
Unlike Preston Smith or Randall Cobb, it seems entirely possible that Amos does not just get a contract restructure this season; he may actually get an extension to ensure that he remains in Green Bay beyond 2022. If so, the going rate for upper-tier safeties (the likes of Tyrann Mathieu, Kevin Byard, and Eddie Jackson) is around $14 million per season. Let’s say that Amos lands a little short of that, say around $50 million total on a four-year extension for $12.5 million per year.
A deal like that would probably give Amos a signing bonus of about $18 million to give him guarantee a similar percentage of his total contract to the guarantees on other deals like those for Budda Baker and Eddie Jackson. Keeping Amos’ base salary at the $1.12 million minimum and keeping his per-game roster bonuses and workout bonus the same would give him a cap hit of $9.702 million in 2022, with the $18M signing bonus being split over five years (2022 plus the four new years of the contract).
If everyone wants to go with a shorter deal, a three-year extension worth $39 million ($13M per year) with a $14M signing bonus would basically get to the same cap number for 2022.
Here’s the rub — that’s not a huge savings from his previous 2022 cap number of just under $12 million, as it only shaves off $2.28 million from the cap. The Packers would have to decide whether keeping Amos’ cap number slightly higher in 2022 than if they had simply restructured his money into a signing bonus is justified in order to lock him in for a few more years.
One more added benefit here is that the void years would not accelerate to all hit in 2023, so the extra few million that is currently divided across the 2024 and 2025 seasons would remain spread out on those years’ caps.
What to do?
Of course, the first decision point here is whether or not the Packers are willing to extend Amos right now at all. However, he is still 28 (turning 29 in April), and has shown no major signs of decline. Additionally, safety, particularly the strong safety spot that he typically plays, is a position where players can last a long time before having a major decline in skills. It’s not at all unreasonable to think that Amos can still be playing at a high level into his mid-30s.
That pushes this writer in favor of offering him an extension, adding 3 years if he’s willing, and keeping him locked in through his age-32 2025 season. It’s true that the salary cap savings for 2022 would be greater by just restructuring his salary into a bonus, but the team would then face the undesirable situation of losing one of its most consistent defensive backs after next year while carrying a very large hit of dead money in 2023. By extending Amos, the signing bonus that the Packers spread out in void years last year can remain stretched against the cap for a few more years, the Packers still get some decent cap relief, and they keep one of their key defensive leaders into the middle of the 2020s.