While all eyes will be on the first-ever virtual draft coming in 10 days, there will be a flood of young, cheap, and hungry talent that will be looking to compete for roster and practice squad positions. However, there are still a handful of proven NFL veterans that do not yet have a home who could be considered for any team that is looking to shore up and holes from in the current roster.
Current Cap and Upcoming Extensions
As of April 13th, the Packers are currently standing with $2,796,427 in estimated cap space available once you take into account the full roster- that number jumps up to an estimated $10.8 million in available cap if you are only counting the top 51 players on the project roster (data from Spotrac).
When you add in the potential that Green Bay releases guard Lane Taylor (his dead cap is 1.375 million against a 5.4 million dollar cap hit), this number can get stretched to $14 million in potential available capital. That could open the door to several interesting possibilities where Green Bay could spend money either finding a veteran backup or possible contender to challenge an incumbent starter for their opening spot.
While those numbers look good on paper, there are several players on the current roster that are going to need contract extensions sooner rather than later, unless the Packers are willing to let them test the free-agent market.
The two biggest names in the next year are Kenny Clark and Aaron Jones. Clark almost certainly will command at least $16 million a year in a new deal given his young age and how strongly he has performed the last few seasons.
While the Packers are not in the habit of shelling out top dollar to running backs, Aaron Jones is on a trajectory to command an elite running back deal that will take him north of $10 million a year.
If the Packers do determine that it’s in the best interest of the team to dedicate resources to these young players, that will strongly impact what they can and (more importantly) cannot offer the rest of the team. You’ll have 46% of the overall team’s cap invested in 6 players (Rodgers, Z. and P. Smith, Adams, Bakhtiari, and Linsley) plus two new additions, which would make it very difficult for the Packers to spend top of the market money for other positions on the team.
Top Available Free Agents
Given the limitations of the current salary cap, we can safely run out most top end free agents from considering Green Bay, namely Jadeveon Clowney, Jason Peters, Markus Golden, and Carlos Hyde. The Packers most likely will not need to add another QB to the roster which removes Jameis Winston, Cam Newton, and Joe Flacco.
Given the historic talent level in this years WR draft group, I would say it is unlikely that the Packers will add another receiver before the draft. The biggest positions of need then will be either at cornerback or defensive tackle.
My personal favorite player who could immediately make an impact would be defensive tackle Damon “Snacks” Harrison from Detroit. An Undrafted player entering the league in 2012, Snacks is 31 years old and has had a lot of miles on his body. However, when he is playing at his top level he is an elite level run stopper in the middle of the defensive, which all Packers fans can agree is an area that needs improvement coming off the NFC Championship game where the Pack got smoked for 285 yards on the ground.
Getting Harrison would be a great catch for Brian Gutekunst and Russ Ball, but they will have to do some hard work to make all the numbers line up. Still, we can all hope for some magic to happen!
——————Joe Kelley is a lifelong Packer fan born in Wisconsin and currently living surrounded by Patriots fans in New England- please send messages of support to @Jkelleylol on Twitter or @j.k.lolz on Instagram.