The Green Bay Packers may have just gotten under the NFL’s 2021 salary cap after restructuring the contract of another one of their veteran starters.
According to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, the Packers are doing a simple restructure with veteran offensive lineman Billy Turner for the 2021 season, converting an unspecified amount of his base salary and roster bonus into a signing bonus.
The #Packers continue to clear cap space, doing a simple restructure with OL Billy Turner, source said. Straight salary conversion.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 13, 2021
A follow-up report from Sports Illustrated’s Bill Huber confirmed the restructure and specified that Turner had converted his $1 million roster bonus into a signing bonus, clearing $500,000 in space with it pro-rated over the next two seasons. Turner also converted “an undisclosed amount” of his $4.525 million base salary into a signing bonus.
Turner is the third Packers veteran to have his contract restructured in the past two days. Green Bay also restructured their deals with safety Adrian Amos and outside linebacker Preston Smith on Friday, creating a combined $8 million in cap space in preparation for the start of the new league year on March 17.
The Packers were $1.27 million over the salary cap coming into Saturday, based on figures from independent cap specialist Ken Ingalls, and could now be under the cap depending on how much of Turner’s base salary was converted.
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What Remaining Moves Could Packers Make?
The Packers have managed to do the majority of their cap-trimming over the past month with six veteran contracts, parting ways with both Christian Kirksey and Rick Wagner to free up about $8.54 million in cap space and clearing nearly $17 million more with four restructures.
General manager Brian Gutekunst isn’t just going to call it quits now that his team has become (just barely) cap healthy for 2021, though.
Packers star running back Aaron Jones and veteran center Corey Linsley are set to hit unrestricted free agency in a matter of days and are hardly the only pending free agents that could leave holes in Green Bay’s roster. The Packers also have to decide whether to place a tender on breakout tight end Robert Tonyan — at a cost of somewhere between $2.13 million and $4.77 million — or pursue any other free agents on the open market, all of whom will require more cap space than they currently have.
Here are several more cap-clearing moves the Packers could do in the coming days/weeks:
— Restructure or extend quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The Packers could clear more than $13 million in cap space for 2021 with a maximum restructure, but a softer approach — or an outright extension — could be the better long-term plan when it comes to the reigning NFL MVP. The Packers could always recommit to Rodgers and add years onto his current deal, potentially creating more space than a restructure would, but they may also not want to touch his deal with 2020 first-rounder Jordan Love heading into his second year. He is currently set to carry the Packers’ largest cap hit of the 2021 season at $37.572 million.
— Extend wide receiver Davante Adams. Aside from Rodgers and, perhaps, Bakhtiari, there is no player more important to the Packers offense than Adams. The 28-year-old wide receiver made a career-high 115 receptions for 1,374 yards and a career-best 18 touchdowns in 2020, getting named to his fourth consecutive Pro Bowl and earning the distinction of first-team All-Pro. Regardless of how the Packers envision their quarterback future, Adams is a gotta-have weapon who would deserve every penny of a top-tier receiver extension. Doing so now would also allow Green Bay to backload the deal and reduce his 2021 cap hit of roughly $16.79 million.
— Cut or restructure Dean Lowry. The Packers signed Lowry to a three-year, $20.3 million contract extension ahead of the 2019 season, but the 26-year-old defensive end has struggled to make a consistent impact despite help from nose tackle Kenny Clark and outside linebackers Za’Darius Smith, Preston Smith and Rashan Gary. The Packers could release him and create $3.3 million in cap savings, or they could persuade him to take an incentive-laden pay cut similar to what they did with Preston’s altered deal.
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