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Deadline passes for Packers to delay dead cap on void years

Green Bay is taking its medicine after years of kicking the can forward

Detroit Lions v Green Bay Packers Photo by Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

Last week, the Green Bay Packers freed up nearly $12 million in cap space in 2023 by restructuring running back Aaron Jones’ contract. On Monday, an opportunity to create even more cap space this offseason passed by the Packers.

If you’ve been following the NFL closely for the last half-dozen years or so, you’ve probably heard the term “void years” when players restructure contracts. The void year mechanism in the NFL is a way to stretch out the prorated cap hits that are associated with signing bonuses. For example, if a player receives a $30 million signing bonus on a three-year contract, it would be accounted on the salary cap with a $10 million charge in each of the three seasons. What void years do is add dummy years to the end of the actual contract, up to a maximum of five seasons.

If that same player who signed that three-year deal with a $30 million signing bonus had two void years tagged onto the end of his contract, the prorated (yearly cap hit) signing bonus number would then be $6 million ($4 million less per year) over five years. After his three-year deal was over, though, the remaining $12 million would accelerate onto the cap in the offseason of the first void year. At some point, you have to pay the piper and that’s where the Packers find themselves now.

Monday was the deadline to extend players on void years to avoid those prorated signing bonuses to accelerate onto the 2023 cap. Seven players had their contracts voided: safety Adrian Amos, defensive lineman Dean Lowry, defensive lineman Jarran Reed, receiver Randall Cobb, tight end Marcedes Lewis, kicker Mason Crosby and tight end Robert Tonyan. They are all now set to be unrestricted free agents. In total, the 2023 Packers will now be charged with a total of $16.4 million on their cap for those players’ previous payments.

Just because Green Bay didn’t restructure an outgoing free agent’s deal doesn’t mean that they wouldn’t be interested in bringing them back to play next season, though. Last year, inside linebacker De’Vondre Campbell and Tonyan had their contracts voided and re-signed with the Packers after hitting the open market.

After years of pushing cap hits into the future, it appears that the Packers are finally taking their medicine. It’s worth noting that Cobb, Lewis, Crosby and Tonyan are players that quarterback Aaron Rodgers — who has still yet to decide if he’s retiring or not — stated could impact his retirement decision depending on if Green Bay does or doesn’t bring those players back for 2023.