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No one is playing with less than the Packers’ offense

It’s time to have reasonable expectations about this young unit.

Green Bay Packers v Las Vegas Raiders Photo by Michael Owens/Getty Images

The Green Bay Packers paid for the last three seasons of quarterback Aaron Rodgers with a credit card. There’s no way to get around that fact. Because of their salary cap limitations, Green Bay now is only spending $72.6 million on the offensive side of the ball. To you or me, that’s an insane amount of money. For an NFL franchise, though, that’s good for easily the lowest mark in the league.

According to Spotrac, that $72.6. million figure is about $16 million less than the 31st-ranked team in the league in offensive cash spending. For perspective, the Baltimore Ravens are spent $170 million on the offensive side of the ball this year, about 230 percent of what Green Bay is allowed to dish out.

Without getting on my soapbox, this is a reminder that the salary cap is more about wage suppression for NFL owners than making sure teams field equally talented teams for games. This is a year where the Packers were going to have to take their medicine after pushing cap hits forward for the past three seasons. It is what it is.

Green Bay isn’t out of the woods next season, either. The Packers are already on the hook to pay players under contract in 2024 about $149 million, without including any new draft picks or free agent signings. Left tackle David Bakhtiari, outside linebacker Preston Smith and running back Aaron Jones, three veteran players who are set to make $45.8 million in cash next year, will leave $55 million in cap hits behind — just to release the players, if the team goes down that route in 2024. If not, the Packers will pay that $55 million dead cap hit on top of that $45.8 million in salary and signing bonuses for just those three players.

Speaking of Jones and Bakhtiari, they are easily the most expensive players on the Packers’ offense this season. Together, Jones — who just recently reaggravated his hamstring — and Bakhtiari — who was just placed on season-ending injured reserve — are making $28.5 million of that $72.6 million offensive cash flow this season. They played a total of 103 snaps in 2023. Yup, in most games, Green Bay has been fielding the equivalent of a $44.1 million offense — about one-fourth of the cost of the highest-paying offenses in the league this year.

This might not be what Packers fans want to hear, but it’s important to have realistic expectations. We all knew that this offense was going to be made up of 20-somethings who were going to need to grow together before Green Bay truly becomes cap solvent in 2025. Somehow, that has been forgotten about after five weeks of games.

The Packers aren’t playing with a loaded deck. They aren’t even close. Three years of paying for a roster by taking loans from their future selves is going to take two years to come out of with the NFL’s current salary cap mechanics. Enjoy the ride and take the progress as it comes. This was never going to be an overnight success.