Various NFL reports, including one by former Packers salary cap guru Andrew Brandt, are reporting that the 2013 salary cap has been set at $123.9 million, about $3.3 million more than what it was originally estimated to be. That is not cap space to sneeze at, especially if you're a team who is tight to the cap and is having to push cap charges into the future through renegotiated contracts in order to be in compliance now. A few extra million can go a long way. For the Green Bay Packers, the extra room is gladly accepted, but it's unlikely it will be used to sign free agents. There is a budget for that, but since GM Ted Thompson only goes for bargain basement deals, he can basically peel a couple of salary cap bills out of his wallet to take care of that. Where cap dollars really matter with the Packers is in the negotiations of long-term extensions with QB Aaron Rodgers and LB Clay Matthews. It was no coincidence Rodgers and Matthews' agent, David Dunn, was camped out in the same hotel lobby that Packers negotiator Russ Ball was seen doing business last week during the combine. The odds of these two not talking contract for both Packers players last week were the same as Notre Dame LB Manti Te’o walking through the Lucas Oil Stadium pressroom unnoticed. It's hard to imagine the Packers not having deals done with both players before the start of the 2013 season, which means they're going to need an extraordinary amount of cash and a decent amount of cap room to sign both. Let's face it, Rodgers is going to wind up the highest-paid player in the league (more than $20 million per year) and Matthews is going to be one of the highest-paid defensive players in the league (probably $11 million per year or more). The Packers have plenty of cash to hand out cap-friendly monster signing bonuses, but if they don't want to go the way of the Pittsburgh Steelers, New York Giants, New England Patriots and New Orleans Saints, all of whom are either cutting players to get under the cap or pushing salary cap money into the future so they can compete today, they need to handle this the right way. The more cap dollars they can spend this year, they less they'll have to worry about what to do in the future when those two deals mature. Under the new number, the Packers are about $22 million under the cap with several restricted free agent tenders still to be subtracted.
Packers will use extra cap space, but not necessarily on free agents
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel | Mar 1