Folks, it’s the offseason. Time for brazen predictions/accusations and violent disagreement leading to sweet sweet offseason melts. Our teams make plans to acquire talent heaven via free agency and draft, or steady the ship by keeping the talent they have. Otherwise, they lose a bunch of players due to cap hell/cap cuts/non re-signed FAs.
Before we set the stage of team needs and talent acquisition, we must determine who is in cap heaven or cap hell in the NFC North. Cap cuts, adjustment from earned and unearned bonuses, home-town discount re-signings, pay cuts, kick the can restructures, trades of HOF QBs, number of players under contract will determine cap space in heaven or cap space in hell. To the numbers!!
Chicago is in talent hell. Like the inner circle. But they are in extream cap heaven with the most space in the league. Bears have 97.7 million in cap space the most in the league even with 19 million in dead money. Bears have 50 players under contract. They will be HUUUUUUGEEE spenders in free agency if they want in year 2 under GM Ryan Poles and HC Matt Eberflus.
They still could cap cut some people if they don’t see them as a fit.
Eddie Jackson got hurt and has 17 million cap number with only 9.575 million dead money. He hasn’t played as well recently since he got this huge contract.
Justin Jones has a 7.4 million cap hit with only 2 million dead. I bet the Bears hang on to him though. Doubtful they cut Lucas Patrick or Cody Whitehair either since they don’t need the cap space.
Bears too high cap heaven is the conclusion. They have a ton of needs which we will touch on the next article and the Free Agency position primers. Now they just need to build that dome stadium so Justin Fields doesn’t have to deal with wind.
Packers are at a crossroads folks. Aaron Rodgers is in darkness soon and may request a trade or retire and the Packers may grant it. They are already making moves to get out of cap hell by reducing Aaron Jones former 20.2 cap hit to 8 million in 2023. Jones now has 12 million dead money in 2024 with a new restructured bonus lowering his base salary and roster bonus. They also still could have a positive unearned bonus adjustment.
Green Bay has 62 players under contract but are now 5.1 million over the cap (for top 51 rule) after the Jones move. If they trade Rodgers, he could have a 41 million cap hit instead of 31 million so they might need to clear more space. So potential 15 million over the cap needed to fix for Gute. Let’s take a look at potential cap cuts and restructure moves.
David Bakhtiari would offer 5 million in space with a normal cap cut and much more post June 1 (but Green Bay wouldn’t have that cap space until June). With his knee injury, it could happen but I doubt it. Maybe if they drafted a left tackle at pick 15. Bakthiari could restructure his 9 million roster bonus to spread out or restructure most of 6.7 million salary. Kick the can if they think he can finally be healthy in 2023.
Preston Smith 4 million in space with a normal cut. With Gary coming back from a torn ACL, would be real tough to cut him. Could restructure his 8 million roster bonus with several years left on his deal. Base salary is already a low 2 million for him.
Jaire Alexander could restructure his 12 million roster bonus to a restructure bonus to lower his cap hit. This is probably likely given he will be here long term.
Packers could re-sign Rashan Gary to a big deal but lower his 10.892 5th year option cap hit. The ACL injury may allow for a slight discount but still a big yearly average and guaranteed money I am sure.
Kenny Clark has a 13 million base salary that could be restructured but he already has 2025 and 2026 as void years. Would add to future dead money.
Darnell Savage 7.1 million cap hit can’t be cut due to guaranteed 5th year options now. But the Packers could trade him to save that space.
Determination is that they kick the can to avoid cap hell and trade Rodgers despite 10 million more in cap hit than his current number. Build through the draft and roll with Love.
They will lose some pending free agents though (Lazard, Tonyan?, Cobb?, Crosby?, Lowry?, Amos?)
Detroit has 15.92 million in cap space before bonus adjustments. This is 10th most in the league. They have a few great cap cut candidates.
Michael Brockers if cut would save Detroit 10 million in space. This is a no brainer move since he was inactive and did not play well. 25 million in space after that obvious move.
RG Hal Vaitai was injured all year and could be cut for 6.6 million more in cap space. If the back injury is bad, no brainer to cut and get a new young RG. Detroit LG is in a contract year so will need to pay Jonah Jackson soon.
Romeo Okwara came back from an achilles injury with mediocre results late in the season. 7.5 million in space gained to cut him. Charles Harris was injured most of the year but had a real strong 2021 with Detroit. Harris saves 4 million with a cut. One of the two vet DEs will be cut is most probable with rookies Aidan Hutchinson, James Houston as sack/pressure masters. Josh Paschal had a solid rookie year as closed end but they would like to re-sign John Cominsky too.
Jared Goff had a great year and despite 20 million in cap savings and pick 6 in the draft, he will not be cut. Lions have the space to keep Goff and continue to build on a great season with Ben Johnson OC returning. GM Brad Holmes anointed him the super stud starter already for 2023.
Save 3.2 million to cut Josh Reynolds but I doubt Detroit does this with DJ Chark hitting free agency.
Detroit can get to over 40 million in cap space but don’t expect Brad Holmes to make too many outside big splash signings (1-2). Detroit builds through the draft and is in draft pick heaven too (two 1sts, two 2nds, 3rd, 5th, two 6ths)
Vikings won the division flukily but are in cap hell at 21.3 million over the cap with 54 under contract. They have some tough cap cut candidates too.
Za Darius Smith could be another cap cut two years in a row saving 13 million in cap space. 2.8 million savings if cut EDGE DJ Wonnum.
8 million to cut Hitman Smith would be surprising but maybe a restructure of his high base salary 14.7 million.
Adam Thielen could restructure his 11.8 million salary into 2024 and void years.
10 million savings to cut Erik Kendricks if he doesn’t fit Brian Flores system at LB. 5 million saved for Jordan Hicks on the chopping block.
New long-term deal to lower TJ Hockensen’s 9.3 million cap hit is possible.
Dalvin Cook with 10 million base salary could restructure for cap space.
Vikings have some starters that are free agents to be and much work to do to get under the cap and sign their draft class. They will be a trade down and build through the draft type of team under their 2nd year GM. Minnesota hopes to get some rookies from 2022 healthy in the secondary too (Cine and Booth, Akayleb Evans). They will lose some impending free agents though (Peterson?, Bradbury, kicker Greg Joseph, Dalvin Tomlinson, Duke Shelley?, Jonathan Bullard, backup Oline, Chandon Sullivan). Vikings better draft well with only 5 picks right now and no 2nd rounder (to Detroit).
Extreme cap heaven Bears
Cap heaven Lions
Cap purgatory Packers
Cap hell Vikings
Deal with it