The Green Bay Packers have restructured one of their veteran contracts to give themselves another chunk of cap space for the remainder of the 2022 season, which could suggest the team is planning a bigger move in the coming weeks.
According to ESPN’s Field Yates, the Packers recently restructured the deal of veteran defensive lineman Dean Lowry and converted about $1.5 million of his base salary into a signing bonus, giving them roughly $1.1 million more in cap space for 2022.
Independent cap specialist Ken Ingalls also shared a breakdown of Lowry’s restructure to Twitter on Tuesday afternoon, noting that the Packers added no new void years to Lowry’s current contract — which expires in 2023 — and instead opted to drop his base salary down to the veteran minimum for the final seven weeks of the 2022 season. They also converted $1.505 million of his salary into a bonus prorated over four years, freeing up precisely $1,128,750 for 2022 and adding that much in dead cap for 2023.
The Packers have now restructured just about every penny they can out of their veteran contracts for the 2022 season. Nearly every veteran deal but Lowry’s was touched at some point during the offseason to help Green Bay solve its cap problems, making his contract a sort of emergency option for them if they needed more space in-season. The timing of the move, however, feels strange with just six more weeks to go in the regular season … unless they have something else planned that requires more space.
Packers Could Need Space to Extend Star Players
In past seasons, if the Packers had restructured one of their veteran contracts to create cap space in late November, the assumption would be they were trying to make room for a notable free agent signing to help them with their playoff push. With the Packers sitting at 4-8 and on the verge of playoff elimination, though, it doesn’t seem likely they would push more money into future years to add someone for five more games.
A more logical explanation might be that the Packers are getting ready to sign one of their star players to a new extension.
The Packers appear to have two primary candidates for contract extensions at the moment: outside linebacker Rashan Gary and Pro Bowl left guard Elgton Jenkins. The latter is a 2019 second-round pick who is nearing the end of his rookie contract and projects to have a sizeable market in 2023 if allowed to enter free agency. It would be understandable if the Packers wanted to lock down Jenkins before having to get into a bidding war with other teams more flush with cash.
As for Gary, the Packers picked up his fifth-year option for the 2023 season back in May, but they will likely want to sign him to a longer-term deal before next season begins. Not only is Gary an immensely talented player who could be a foundational piece of their defense for years to come, but a long-term extension would also help the Packers lower his cap hit for 2023, which is set to be $10.829 million under his fifth-year option.
The Packers could sign either one of them to an extension and use the structure of their bonuses to pay them now — in a less consequential season — in order to save later.
Jordan Love Option Decision Looms for Packers in 2023
The Packers have several important financial decisions to make in the 2023 offseason, but one of the biggest could end up being how they handle Jordan Love’s fifth-year option. The Packers have been eyeing Love as the successor to Aaron Rodgers ever since they infamously traded up to get him at No. 26 overall in the 2020 NFL draft, but they also just signed Rodgers to a new extension earlier this year that keeps him tied to the franchise through the end of the 2026 season, creating a timing issue for them.
Even if the Packers pick up Love’s fifth-year option for 2024, there is no telling at this point whether his role (as Rodgers’ backup) will change at all by then. They also have not gotten to see much out of Love in terms of regular-season performance, making it more difficult for them to trust in his long-term development. Is the growth they have seen from Love in practice worth investing a projected $19.848 million in his option? Can they take the risk without knowing if Rodgers will still be their starter in 2024?
The Packers will need to ask the hard questions and figure out what the best course of action is before the option deadline on May 3, 2023.