Packers All-Pro & Starting DB to Become Free Agents After Contracts Void

Keisean Nixon, Packers

Getty Cornerback Keisean Nixon of the Green Bay Packers.

The Green Bay Packers assumed a significant amount of dead money on their cap sheet Monday, as one All-Pro and one starter will now become free agents in March.

Rob Demovsky of ESPN reported on February 19 that Green Bay failed to reach extension agreements with safety and former first-round pick Darnell Savage, backup offensive lineman Yosh Nijman (22 career starts in four years) and cornerback Keisean Nixon who doubles as the team’s kickoff returner and has earned first-team All-Pro honors for his special teams work in each of the past two seasons.

“The Packers will count $9.48 million in dead money on their 2024 salary cap after they did not reach extensions with 3 players whose contracts voided as of the end of business today: S Darnell Savage ($5,456,800), OT Yosh Nijman ($2,543,200), CB/KR Keisean Nixon ($1,480,000),” Demovsky wrote on February 19.

Packers Face Cap Problems That Will Make Adding to Team Difficult in Offseason

Brian Gutekunst, Matt LaFleur

GettyGeneral manager Brian Gutekunst (left) of the Green Bay Packers speaks with head coach Matt LaFleur (right) during OTAs in May 2023.

Green Bay’s secondary is likely to take a hit if both Savage and Nixon end up elsewhere. Savage has started 69 of 72 games played over the course of his five-year NFL career, and Pro Football Reference credits Nixon with 13 starts at the cornerback position in 2023.

But that isn’t even the most concerning issue pertaining to Monday’s voiding contracts. The biggest problem is the collective salary cap hit.

As of Tuesday, the Packers are $5.2 million over the projected 2024 salary cap. Bill Huber of Sports Illustrated noted Monday that once the team has signed what is projected to be an 11-player draft class, Green Bay will be nearly $9.8 million over the cap.

“That’s just to get to break-even,” Huber wrote. “That doesn’t leave a single dollar for re-signing any of their own free agents, adding any outside free agents or having the spending money to do even such mundane things as elevating a player from the practice squad to play in a game.”

Packers Must Cut Salary, David Bakhtiari Prime Candidate

GettyLeft tackle David Bakhtiari of the Green Bay Packers.

The Packers do have some options to clear significant cap space, though doing so will mean the departure of a tentpole player or two from the roster.

Left tackle David Bakhtiari is the most obvious candidate. When healthy, he remains an All-Pro caliber talent. The problem is he can’t stay on the field.

Bakhtiari has played just 13 games over the previous three seasons due to lingering knee issues that began with a torn ACL near the end of the 2020 regular season. The five-time All-Pro carries a cap hit of nearly $40 million in 2024, and the team can save nearly $21 million by cutting or trading him at any point in the offseason.

The Packers have made no official move on Bakhtiari’s contract yet, but conventional wisdom says he has to go and that his departure is only a matter of time.

Green Bay also has a few other options to create space, which Huber laid out Monday.

“A contract extension for defensive tackle Kenny Clark and a restructure of cornerback Jaire Alexander’s $8 million roster bonus would help lessen the blow from the players with the second- and third-highest cap charges,” Huber wrote. “Running back Aaron Jones, who has the fourth-highest cap charge on the team, took a $5 million pay cut in exchange for more guaranteed money last year. That could happen again this year with the 29-year-old due a base salary of $11.1 million.”

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