Green Bay will bring $7 million over from last season which gives them a cap number of $131 million opposed to the league regulated $123.9 million for this year. One of the reasons the Packers have so much to spend is because of the recent release of veteran defensive back Charles Woodson, which saved the organization $10 million. However, if Green Bay wants to sign and extend core players then they will have to do better than that.
The Packers will use about $5 million to re-sign restricted free agents Sam Shields, Evan Dietrich-Smith and a couple of other players the team feels they will need for the upcoming season, such as Erik Walden if it comes down to it. Green Bay will then need roughly $5 million to sign the 2013 NFL Draft class.
In my opinion, the Packers still need to make two more pricey cuts that will save them enough money to extend three key contracts. The organization is currently debating on whether to sever ties with tight end Jermichael Finley and inside linebacker A.J. Hawk. I believe both of these players need to go (Hawk more than Finley) because if the team is going to release a productive field general such as Woodson, then these two mediocre players are certainly expendable.
By cutting Finley ($8.75 million) and Hawk ($7.05 million) the team will save $15.8 million that could go towards extending the contracts of outside linebacker Clay Matthews, nose tackle B.J. Raji and quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
It would be difficult to release Finley because of the potential he has shown in his young career to be a phenomenal playmaker, but if cutting him means being able to retain Greg Jennings then I am all for it. Hawk is another player that is difficult to justify parting ways with because he always finishes the season as one of the leading tacklers on the team. However, the Packers have several capable inside linebackers such as D.J. Smith to take over the job. I personally would take Jennings over both of these players in a heartbeat because of the deep threat that he poses on the gridiron, something the other receivers need in order to play their game.
Not to mention, saving an additional $15.8 million allows the organization to check out free agency and even sign one or two players, such as defensive end Chris Canty.