The Green Bay Packers are one of just four NFC teams remaining in the NFL Playoffs. Their improbable regular season, the first with Jordan Love as their starting quarterback, ended with a 9-8 record and the seventh seed. They then became the first seventh seed in NFL history to win a playoff game when they defeated the Dallas Cowboys 48-32 this past Sunday.
Indeed, the “rebuild” that occurred after the Packers traded Aaron Rodgers and allowed veterans like Allen Lazard, Mason Crosby, Adrian Amos, and Marcedes Lewis to depart via free agency has gone a lot better than expected. Despite being the youngest team in the NFL, the young Packers have developed at a fast rate, particularly during the second half of the regular season.
After starting 2-5, Green Bay went 7-3 in their final 10 games, winning three straight to clinch the final spot in the playoffs. Despite the fact that their season is not over, though, many are already looking ahead to the offseason and what the Packers can do to become even better in 2024.
Due to the high number of players still on rookie contracts, there will not be much roster turnover. That being said, there are some key veterans with hefty cap hits next season, and one NFL analyst thinks three of them will be gone, including two former First Team All Pro’s.
What Is the Green Bay Packers’ Salary Cap Looking Like in 2024?
The 2024 Packers salary cap is going to be significant for one key reason: it will not have any dead money dedicated to Aaron Rodgers. The trade of the four-time NFL MVP last offseason meant that Green Bay would suffer a $40 million cap hit in 2023, but would be free of his significant salary after.
As it stands, therefore, the Packers are slated to enter the 2024 offseason “in the black” for the first time in years. In other words, the Packers already have salary cap space available for next season. In recent years, Brian Gutekunst and Russ Ball have had to restructure contracts and cut players just to get under the cap by the start of the new league year.
According to Spotrac, the Packers have $237.6 million dedicated to contracts in 2024. This does not include the $5.6 million in dead cap they will carry over due to void years added onto various contracts. In total, Green Bay currently has about $7.9 million in cap space available for next season.
Of course, they will need more than that. Jordan Love will undoubtedly get a contract extension and free agents will need to be signed, as will their 2024 NFL Draft class.
In order to free up space, Bleacher Report believes the Packers will move on from three key players: David Bakhtiari, Kenny Clark, and De’Vondre Campbell.
Has there been a player with worse injury luck than David Bakhtiari over the past three seasons? From tearing his ACL doing non-contact drills in practice to a grueling recovery that required multiple surgeries to playing just one game in 2023 before needing more surgery, the two-time First Team All-Pro left tackle has certainly been through the ringer.
He also carries the biggest cap hit in 2024, the final year of his contract. In short, the Packers could save nearly $21 million if he were to be cut. Bleacher Report‘s article states:
“The reality is that Green Bay simply cannot count on Bakhtiari being a part of its future. He’s entering the final year of his contract, and releasing him would save a whopping $21 million in cap space.”
While that is true, there is a slight hitch. Due to his injuries, Bakhtiari could file an injury grievance with the NFL if he were cut by the Packers. It is against league rules to cut a player just because he is injured. If Bakhtiari were to file such a grievance and won the case, the Packers would have to pay him his whole $40 million salary next season. Even if Bakhtiari did not win the case, Green Bay would have to carry the full $40 million cap hit on their cap until the case was resolved.
For what it’s worth, Bakhtiari himself has said that the current plan is for him to return to the Packers next season. Things, of course, may change; but so far the only indication is that he will be back next season. If he is, it certainly won’t be for the $40 million he is currently due.
He very well could end up being a cap casualty after some sort of settlement between himself and the Packers, or he could be back on a restructured deal loaded with void years. Either way, his cap number will almost assuredly go down in 2024.
Bleacher Report’s naming of Kenny Clark as the second-most likely cap casualty is a bit surprising. After all, the two-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle had a career-high 7.5 sacks this season and has not missed a game in three full seasons.
In addition to his leadership, Clark also has the benefit of being 29 years old next season. In other words, he still has plenty of gas left in the tank and just had the best season of his career. Regardless, Bleacher Report writes:
“Clark is also entering the final year of his contract and is set to carry a substantial cap hit. Green Bay may prefer to keep him with another restructured deal, but releasing him with a post-June 1 designation would save $17 million in cap space.”
The problem with a post-June 1 designation, as Bleacher Report notes, is that such a designation would result in a $10.5 million cap hit in 2024 and a $13.8 million hit in 2025.
It would make far more sense for the Packers to lower Clark’s $27.5 million cap hit next season with another contract extension rather than just cutting him. While they have indeed invested a great deal of draft capital into their defensive line, Clark is still the best player in that unit.
He should be in Packers uniform for at least the next three to four years.
De’Vondre Campbell’s naming here, too, does not really make that much sense. If the Packers were to cut him before June 1, they would save less than $3 million in cap space. Cutting him with a post-June 1 designation would free up over $10 million in 2024, but would carry more dead cap space in future seasons.
Bleacher Report, however, defends their naming of Campbell with the following:
“Campbell is coming off his worst statistical season since joining Green Bay in 2021. He has three years remaining on his contract, but the Packers could very well determine that it’s time for a more dependable and possibly cheaper replacement.”
While Campbell has battled injuries this year, there is no denying that the defense is much better with him on the field. Campbell, along with Quay Walker, make up one of the best tackling duos in the NFL.
Campbell also has three years left on his contract. It is more likely the Packers keep him next season and give him a chance to play a fully healthy season before decided to move on from him early.