Another veteran has solidified his place with the Green Bay Packers in 2021 as the team continues to borrow from its future to go “all-in” for next season.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Packers have restructured the contract of starting defensive lineman Dean Lowry, reducing his salary to the veteran minimum ($990,000) and converting the difference into a signing bonus in order to create $2.488 million in 2021 salary-cap space. Three void years were also tacked onto his deal to better help Green Bay spread out the cap hit.
Lowry, 26, has started every game in two straight seasons for the Packers, but his play has struggled to live up to the standard he set in 2018 that earned him a pay raise. Though he did match a career-high three sacks last year, he had difficulty consistently pressuring quarterbacks on 313 pass-rush snaps and was even less effective on his 286 snaps of run defense, finishing with his fewest tackles (36) in three seasons.
The Packers could have moved on from Lowry after June 1 and freed up about $2.288 million more for this year’s salary cap. Instead, he is now essentially guaranteed to make their 53-man roster for next season as it would cost about $2.3 million more to cut him than keep him after the restructure, based on figures from Spotrac.
Lowry’s contract is but one of many veteran deals the Packers have reworked for immediate cap savings this offseason. They have also restructured David Bakhtiari (about $8.3 million in savings), Za’Darius Smith ($7.38 million), Preston Smith ($7.25 million), Adrian Amos ($4.33 million), Billy Turner ($3.56 million) and Mason Crosby ($1.34 million), while Devin Funchess took a pay cut of about $750,000.
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Packers Limited on Remaining Veteran Moves
With a decision rendered on Lowry, the Packers have just about exhausted all of their restructuring options with current veterans. The only two sizable contracts that remain untouched at this point are those of Aaron Rodgers and Davante Adams, and neither player’s situation is as simple as a basic restructure.
The Packers can almost certainly save a large amount of money in 2021 if they can find a way to resolve their rift with Rodgers, but it remains unclear — based solely on what both sides have said publicly — just how salvageable the situation is. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, Green Bay has already offered a significant, long-term contract extension to Rodgers this offseason with some engagement from Rodgers’ camp. Until things come to a head, the financial flexibility of 2021 is a mystery.
In terms of Adams, the 28-year-old wide receiver is heading into the final year of his contract and will expectedly fetch a high price on his next contract in 2022. Adams would have just about zero motivation to restructure his deal as it stands with void years, but the Packers could preemptively extend him and create cap relief.
It is possible Adams will give them no choice on the matter. He has not yet reported to the Packers after three days of voluntary organized team activities at Lambeau Field and could refuse to step foot on the field until a new agreement is in place, but there has also been no indication yet he intends to hold out of any mandatory work.
Packers Have More Cap Work to Do
The Packers continue to do what they can to get their salary cap in a manageable place for the upcoming season. Most of their moves prior to Lowry were designed to get them to a healthy place financially before free agency began, but independent cap specialist Ken Ingalls projects they will need to create about $6.5 million more to field their 53-man and practice-squad rosters this season in addition to setting aside funds for in-season spending.
Roster cuts could alleviate some of their financial strain. If names like Funchess, Josh Jackson, Oren Burks, Hunter Bradley and Jace Sternberger are outdone or are on the bubble by the end of training camp, the Packers might choose to go younger and cheaper for the sake of savings. They could also put one or two mid-tier players on the trading block if they have a high volume of talent at a particular position, such as Lucas Patrick on the offensive line.