The Green Bay Packers are creating a little bit of salary-cap space before officially kicking off their season in Jacksonville this weekend.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Packers converted more than half of cornerback Chandon Sullivan’s base salary — $1.213 million of his original $2.133 million — into a signing bonus to create $970,400 in cap space for the 2021 season. The restructure added four void years onto Sullivan’s one-year contract that he signed as a restricted free agent this past offseason.
Sullivan was retained as the Packers’ primary slot cornerback for the 2021 season after playing all 18 games in the role last season. While his first year as a full-timer was relatively understated due to his lack of splash plays, he finished 10th in passer rating (89.6) and 12th with 1.13 yards per coverage snap among the league’s slot corners, according to Pro Football Focus. He also added a pick-six in Week 2 against the Detriot Lions and six pass deflections.
According to independent cap specialist Ken Ingalls, the Packers now have about $7.795 million in current cap space and have pushed another $1 million into future seasons.
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Sullivan Could See Time at ‘Star’ Position
The Packers managed to keep together a grand majority of their defense from last season, but the scheme itself will be going through some changes in 2021 with the arrival of Joe Barry as their new defensive coordinator. One of the most important will be the introduction of the “star” position, which is essentially a hybrid defensive back spot that functions similar to a slot corner but requires more versatility and diagnostic skills from the defender.
Defensive backs coach Jerry Gray told reporters ahead of Week 1’s opener against the New Orleans Saints that the Packers plan to use a three-man rotation to handle the responsibility, one that includes Sullivan in a modified reprisal of his 2020 role. The other two involved at the “star” position will be All-Pro cornerback Jaire Alexander — specifically in situations where an opposing team places their No. 1 receiver in the slot — and third-year safety Darnell Savage Jr.
“Come Sunday at 3:25 (p.m. CT), you’ll know who we’re going to be lining up there,” Gray said.
Packers’ Future Burdens Continue to Increase
Cap space now is nice for the Packers, but the future picture only gets more complicated with another restructure. As Ingalls noted in his “kick the can” tracker, the Packers have pushed roughly $50.9 million into future seasons with their structuring of numerous current contracts, including about $29.2 million that is on the books for 2022 alone.
Here are some of the other Packers players who have added future money due to restructures or the addition of void years: Aaron Rodgers ($9.6 million), David Bakhtiari ($8.3 million), Za’Darius Smith ($7.4 million), Adrian Amos ($4.3 million), Billy Turner ($3.6 million), Preston Smith ($3.3 million), Kevin King ($3 million), Randall Cobb ($2.8 million), Dean Lowry ($2.5 million), Robert Tonyan ($1.9 million), Mason Crosby ($1.3 million) and De’Vondre Campbell ($800,000).
The Packers have a couple of different ways they could attack their cap issues in 2022, but a massive cutdown seems to be one of the most likely options. Naturally, Rodgers’ situation will be the one that draws the majority of attention given his long-standing status with the team; however, expect at least 50% of the names on the future-money list to be shown the door next offseason.