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James Starks' new two-year contract gives Packers flexibility

James Starks' average salary of $3 million is tied for 15th with Baltimore's Justin Forsett on the RB pay-scale list. Geoff Burke/USA TODAY Sports

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- If $6 million over two years seems a bit pricey for James Starks, the Green Bay Packers could get out from under the deal the running back signed last week after one season without taking much of a salary-cap hit.

The way Starks’ contract is structured, they could release him after one year and save $3 million on their 2017 salary cap if he didn’t repeat his performance from last season, when he set a career high for rushing yards (601), receptions (43), receiving yards (392) and touchdowns (five).

Starks will turn 31 years old shortly after the 2016 season ends. If the Packers wanted to move before next season, they would only be on the hook for $750,000 of his prorated signing bonus on the 2017 cap. His $3 million in pay (base salary plus bonuses) would be wiped off their books.

His average salary of $3 million is tied for 15th with Baltimore’s Justin Forsett on the running-back pay-scale list.

Packers general manager Ted Thompson has not spoken publicly since free agency began, but he’s expected to be available to discuss his moves -- re-signing only his own players and no one from another team -- this week at the NFL annual meetings.

Here’s a breakdown of Starks’ deal:

2016

  • Cash value: $3 million

  • Salary-cap charge: $2.25 million

  • Signing bonus: $1.5 million

  • Roster bonus: Up to $300,000 ($18,750 per game active)

  • Workout bonus: $100,000

  • Base salary: $1.1 million

  • Incentives: Up to $600,000 for Pro Bowl, certain rushing totals (considered not likely to be earned for salary-cap purposes).

2017

  • Cash value: $3 million

  • Salary-cap charge: $3.75 million

  • Roster bonus: Up to $300,000 ($18,750 per game active)

  • Workout bonus: $100,000

  • Base salary: $2.6 million

  • Incentives: Up to $600,000 for Pro Bowl, certain rushing totals (considered not likely to be earned for salary-cap purposes).