There is any number of ways to judge a National Football League general manager.

How has he drafted? How has he used free agency? How has his head coach performed? How has he managed the salary cap? Has he secured a franchise quarterback? Has he succeeded in retaining his best players?

Another way to measure his performance is to look at the amount of "dead money" that appears on his salary cap ledger.

In some ways, "dead money," or the salary cap charges that count for players no longer on the team, answer many of those aforementioned questions. The more dead money you have, the worse job you've done making good personnel, financial and planning decisions.

As of Tuesday morning, the Green Bay Packers ranked sixth in the NFL with $17.799 million in salary cap space and among the lowest in the amount of dead money on their ledgers.

It is both a testament to general manager Ted Thompson's success building his football team and his distaste for free agency, where it seems most of the big, salary cap-gutting mistakes occur. Thompson doesn't like other teams' talent and spends most of his salary cap money re-signing his own players.

"I think winning a world championship is a very difficult thing to do," Thompson once said in describing his philosophy. "They've been attained through different mechanisms. I think the way we do it, which is to try to do solid personnel work and grow within the organization and try to make people better as they move forward in their life, is a good recipe."

Consider the dead money on the Packers' 2013 adjusted salary cap of $131,325,731: A total of 15 players account for $959,236.

That money represents a portion of a player's signing bonus or salary guarantee that was pro-rated over the length of the player's contract. If the player doesn't fulfill all the years on the contract, the remaining pro-rated portion of the signing bonus accelerates onto the team's salary cap either that year or the following year, depending on when the player was released.

The majority of the Packers' dead money this year belongs to center Jeff Saturday, who was given a guaranteed $1.65 million roster bonus when he signed a two-year deal in 2012. He was released in January - and later retired - but $825,000 of that bonus will count against the Packers' cap this year.

Some of the others on that list are: Lawrence Guy ($22,950), Tommie Draheim ($5,667), Vic So'oto ($2,834) and Shaky Smithson ($334). All were released last year during or around training camp.