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The Packers’ cap situation is now dependent on a Rashan Gary extension

With Jordan Love’s deal in the rearview, all attention turns to Green Bay’s top pass-rusher

Green Bay Packers v Washington Commanders Photo by Mitchell Layton/Getty Images

According to ESPN’s Field Yates, Green Bay Packers quarterback Jordan Love’s contract terms are far from the $13.5 million signing bonus that was originally reported. Instead, Love will make $8.8 million in a signing bonus immediately ($4.4 million which will count against the 2023 salary cap, pending void years) and make a base salary of $1.01 million in 2023 (less than half of what was scheduled for on his rookie contract.) In 2024, Love’s salary will be a fully guaranteed $5.5 million, which can escalate up to $9 million depending on his performance in 2023.

If you’re keeping track at home, this means that Love signed a one-year deal worth $15.4 million guaranteed and can rise up to $19.4 million, depending on incentives and workout bonuses. That’s not bad when the Packers would have been on the hook for over $20 million guaranteed had the team picked up the quarterback’s fifth-year option.

Between the Love extension and the conversion of safety Darnell Savage’s fifth-year option into a signing bonus with max void years, these set of moves could create up to about $5 million in cap space for Green Bay — depending on if Love’s signing bonus is spread over five seasons with max void years. At the moment, it has not been reported if Love does or doesn’t have void years (fake seasons that are used as placeholders to stretch out signing bonus cap hits) in his contract or what the incentives in his contract are that would take his salary from $5.5 million to $9 million in 2024.

Now that their quarterback situation has been settled, the Packers’ attention will turn to pass-rusher Rashan Gary, who currently has twice the salary (game checks) of any other player on the 2023 roster. Gary’s fifth-year option is worth $10.9 million, meaning that any extension of the 25-year-old will be extremely likely to bring his 2023 cap hit down.

Gary, who owns his own agency (Rashan Gary Sports), is coming off of an ACL tear, which puts him in the prickly position of attempting to sign a long-term extension after a major injury. We haven’t seen the Packers shy from this issue before, though, as the team just extended guard Elgton Jenkins to a $68 million, four-year deal after a 2021 ACL tear. Should the two sides be able to come together on a new deal, though, the Packers should have around $9 million in cap space to play with for this upcoming season, per cap expert Ken Ingalls’ calculations. That number is after including the Packers’ rookie draft class, the cost of their practice squad and the salary cap accounting for 53 contracts (regular season roster) up from 51 (preseason salary cap hold) after final cuts. As a reminder, that $9 million number will also include replacement signings for injured players that hit the injured reserve, who will still count against the salary cap even if they aren’t available on the field.

Whenever Green Bay is able to get a deal done with Gary, the team should be able to poke around on veteran free agents who remain available in post-draft free agency. Now that the draft is behind us, these signings will not impact the Packers’ compensatory pick projections. In 2024, Green Bay is expected to add three compensatory picks based on the free agents the team has lost this off-season.

According to Spotrac, Gary’s projected contract extension will be around a $104 million, four-year deal ($26.1 million per year.) A comparable contract is that of the Las Vegas Raiders’ Maxx Crosby, who signed for four years and $94 million ($23.5 million per year) in 2022. For reference, Crosby’s 2022 season only counted $6.7 million against the Raiders’ cap, despite him being paid a $13 million signing bonus — which was spread over the final year of his rookie deal and the four years added on his deal via the extension. Functionally, with the guarantees involved, Crosby’s extension will pay him $54.2 million over three years before his dead cap (cost to let go) is significantly less than his cap hit (cost to roster without contract adjustments), by which time the Raiders will either move on, extend him or convert his salary into a signing bonus (bringing his immediate cap hit down.) That is expected to be the ballpark price to lock in Gary long-term.