Earlier this month, we noted the Green Bay Packers would be close to the NFL salary-cap limit of $120 million when free agency began. Salary-cap rules remain a bit of a mystery here during this post-lockout frenzy, but from what I can see, the Packers have created at least $19 million in cap space over the past few days.
That total is the sum cap values of the five veteran players they reportedly plan to release. The most recent name added to the list is longtime offensive lineman Mark Tauscher, who managed only 12 starts over the past two years because of injuries. The list also includes defensive lineman Justin Harrell, along with linebackers Brandon Chillar, Nick Barnett and Brady Poppinga.
It's possible the Packers have created more space by renegotiating some veteran contracts, but if that's the case, it hasn't yet been reported.
If you're hoping the Packers will use that money to sign a veteran free agent, you've obviously not been watching how they have operated over the past few years. Some of the money will go toward signing their draft class. (Their rookie pool assignment was about $5.1 million this year.) Some of it might go to receiver James Jones, if he re-signs, and then I presume the Packers will consider contract extensions for some of their young starters, from guard Josh Sitton to tight end Jermichael Finley to receiver Jordy Nelson.
More details for the curious: It's been a while since the NFL salary cap has mattered, so let's touch a bit on what is happening.
The NFL salary cap is operating under post-June 1 rules. That means when a team releases or trades a player at this point, his entire salary cap figure for 2011 disappears from their books. The remaining "acceleration," if any, from his contract then counts against the team's 2012 salary cap.
That acceleration is known as "dead money" because it is cap space devoted to players no longer on the roster. So the Packers will have some dead money charged to their 2012 cap as a result of these 2011 moves. My pea brain is spinning too much to figure it out, but it will be a relatively small number.
Recent Packers posts: Who might replace left guard Daryn Colledge? The Packers trust Mason Crosby as their place-kicker of the future. Quarterback Aaron Rodgers really, really wants the Packers to re-sign Jones. To little surprise, the Packers told Barnett he will be traded or released. Chillar suffered a cruel fate.