The start of June has served as a key NFL financial period for decades. While teams no longer have to wait until after June 1 to make that cost-splitting cut designation, teams pick up the savings from those transactions today. With a handful of teams making post-June 1 cuts this year, here is how each team’s cap space (courtesy of OverTheCap) looks as of Friday:
The Jets’ number is a bit deceiving. They are still working on a restructure withAaron Rodgers, as the trade acquisition’s cap number — after a Packers restructure — sits at just $1.22MM. In 2024, that number skyrockets to $107.6MM. Rodgers’ cap hit will almost definitely will climb before Week 1, so viewing the Jets along with the other teams north of $20MM in space is not entirely accurate.
Minnesota is moving closer to separating from its $12.6MM-per-year Dalvin Cook contract. The team already created some space by trading Za’Darius Smithto the Browns. Cleveland, which is one of the teams connected toDeAndre Hopkins, added Smith and did so with help from its Deshaun Watsonrestructure. Watson was set to count $54.9MM against the Browns’ 2023 cap. That number is down to $19.1MM, though the Browns’ restructure both ballooned Watson’s mid-2020s cap figures to $63.9MM — which would shatter the NFL record — and added a 2027 void year.
Tampa Bay and Los Angeles sit atop the league in dead money, with the Bucs — largely from their April 2022 Tom Bradyrestructure — checking in at $75.3MM here. That total comprises nearly 33% of the Bucs’ 2023 cap sheet. The Rams, at more than $74MM, are not far behind. Despite the Bills and Chiefs — the teams most frequently tied to Hopkins — joining the Bucs and Rams near the bottom of the league in cap space, both AFC contenders also sit in the bottom five in dead money.
Aaron Rodgers‘ Green Bay departure would have been far messier had it occurred in 2021, when he requested to be moved. But the divorce, coming after a prolonged trade negotiation, has still produced a stream of headlines. The new Jets quarterback attempted to set the record straight regarding a few key 2020s Packers plotlines.
Shortly after the Packers traded up for Jordan Lovein 2020, Rodgers said he no longer knew finishing his career in Green Bay was realistic. Before the 2021 trade request, Rodgers earned his third MVP honor despite the Packers using their first-round pick on a backup quarterback. While the Love choice did not directly impede Green Bay in 2020, the team suffered another narrow NFC championship defeat — at home against Tampa Bay — as its first-round pick did not contribute. That loss began an annual run of Rodgers-driven offseason uncertainty in Green Bay.
“Did I wanna, years down the line, go, ‘Well, what if we had just taken somebody who could impact our team because we had just gone to the NFC championship?’ Yeah, of course,” Rodgers said (via The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman; subscription required) of the Packers’ decision to draft Love. “I don’t think any other competitor would say anything different.
“… We didn’t win the Super Bowl. [The Packers] had their guy in waiting. I knew that [the team going with Love] was always a possibility, that they would wanna go, ‘You know what? We tried hard. We tried to win a championship. We had a good team, but now it might be time to go with Jordan, move some contract stuff around and do that.'”
The organization made that decision two years after Rodgers requested a trade. The Packers could have obtained more for Rodgers in 2021, given his age and MVP form, but they rebuffed trade overtures during that offseason. Rodgers’ agent is believed to have made a blunt request to Packers president Mark Murphy at that time: trade Rodgers or fire GM Brian Gutekunst. The Rodgers-Gutekunst feud simmered throughout the ’21 offseason, and this ultimatum surfaced that summer. Wednesday’s report lends more support to the Rodgers-or-Gutekunst rumors. The 18-year veteran told Schneidman communication between he and Green Bay management improved once he returned to the team, but it still pales in comparison to the talks he has held with Jets management in the weeks since he arrived.
Although Rodgers re-signed with the Packers — on a three-year, $150.8MM deal the Jets are now in the process of restructuring — in March 2022, team brass has revealed dissatisfaction with the future Hall of Famer’s commitment level last year. The Packers viewed Rodgers skipping OTAs last year as detrimental to Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs‘ rookie-year development, Albert Breer of SI.com notes, and Schneidman adds the team was dissatisfied with Rodgers’ day-to-day commitment throughout last season. The four-time MVP, who has been at Jets OTAs this offseason, disputed the notion his 2022 absence hindered the Packers.
“When I’m in, I’m all in, and you wanna ride with offseason workouts?” Rodgers said. “I won MVP without doing offseason workouts. Like, was my commitment any less then? I’d say not at all. The way that I come back to work, not just physically in good shape but mentally refreshed, is the best thing for me to have the season I wanted to have during those in Green Bay. I think that’s just a cop-out written to try and find something to disparage me about that, honestly, when you know what offseason workouts are really about, it’s completely ridiculous.”
Adams broke off talks with the Packers ahead of last season and played out the $14.5MM-per-year extension he had signed in 2017. Although the Packers upped their offer before franchise-tagging him in 2022, Rodgers wonders if the team’s early hesitancy affected the All-Pro wideout’s desire to stay.
“They offered him less money than Christian Kirk and [Adams] is going, ‘Are you serious right now? I’m the best receiver in the league, and you’re gonna offer me less than Christian Kirk?’” Rodgers said of the Pack’s offer compared to Kirk’s $18MM-AAV Jaguars deal. “With all due respect, he’s not on Davante’s level.
“I’m sure that the team will say that’s just the business of negotiation — it’s like, yeah, but you’re also sending a message to that guy, and a lot of times it can stick with guys and make them a little sour on things. … That goes back to the first offer that they made, and I don’t think [the Packers] had the foresight — obviously didn’t have the foresight.”
Rodgers’ numbers suffered without Adams and Valdes-Scantling, with Doubs and Watson — the latter’s late-season surge notwithstanding — not measuring up to the veterans’ contributions. Gutekunst deferred to Rodgers’ MVP awards when asked in January if the veteran starter or Love gave the Packers a better chance to win. Three-plus months later, Rodgers became a Jet. Gutekunst did not believe he could sit Love for a fourth season, per ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky and Rich Cimini; the sixth-year GM had said many times this offseason the fourth-year backup was ready to play.
Gutekunst and Rodgers did not meet this offseason; scheduling conflicts have been cited. The Packers have also accused Rodgers of rebuffing efforts to meet, per ESPN.com. Rodgers said he reached out to Packers management regarding a meeting with the front office and Matt LaFleur before he trekked to the darkness retreat, but after he referenced the Pack’s lack of communication, a desire to play for the Jets — rather than retire — emerged post-darkness. As Brett Favre did 15 years ago, Rodgers will now attempt to prove the Packers wrong.
“Did Brian text me more than I texted him? Yeah, but did I ghost him? No,” Rodgers said, via Schneidman. “I texted him back. There was back-and-forths that we had and so this is the story you wanna go with? You’re gonna stand on this hill of austerity and say that arguably in the conversation of the best player in your franchise history, you’re gonna say I couldn’t get a hold of him and that’s why we had to move on?
“Like, come on, man. Just tell the truth; you wanted to move on. You didn’t like the fact that we didn’t communicate all the time. Like, listen, I talk to the people that I like.”
As teams regroup on potential trade talks, 2024 draft picks represent the top non-player assets available. Although the usual run of draft-weekend trades featured teams moving up and down the 2023 board, a high number of 2024 picks have changed hands. The Cardinals resided at the center of such movement, but many other teams have already made changes to their 2024 draft arsenals. Three first-rounders have already been traded, and a fourth — barring an Aaron Rodgers injury — will be expected to transfer.
Here are the 2024 picks to have changed hands thus far:
The quarterback market has moved again this offseason. A year after Aaron Rodgers raised the average annual value bar past $50MM, Jalen Hurts and Lamar Jackson did so on long-term extensions. Overall, four teams have authorized the most lucrative QB deal in their respective histories this offseason. Two more — the Bengals and Chargers — are in talks about record-setting extensions as well.
On that note, here is the richest quarterback contract each team has authorized. Although teams like the Jets and Lions have acquired big-ticket contracts via trade, only teams’ extensions or free agency agreements will qualify here.
Carr’s second Raiders deal — agreed to in April 2022 — was worth $40.5MM per year. The full guarantee, thanks to the February escape hatch the team built into the contract, checked in lower than Carr’s initial Raiders extension.
Mark Sanchez, June 2009. Five years, $50.5MM. $28MM guaranteed
This was the former No. 5 overall pick-turned-TV analyst’s rookie deal, made possible before the 2011 CBA reshaped the rookie salary structure. Chad Pennington‘s September 2004 extension (seven years, $64MM, $23MM guaranteed) marks the top contract the Jets have authorized for a veteran QB.
It’s been nearly two months since former Cardinals executive Terry McDonough first filed an arbitration claim against team owner Michael Bidwill accusing Bidwill of cheating and gross misconduct. The claim specifically levied accusations of breach of contract, retaliation after engaging in protected activity, intentional infliction of emotional distress, defamation, and civil conspiracy. The Cardinals’ public relations consultant, Jim McCarthy, released a statement in return containing several personal attacks on McDonough.
The original complaint stemmed from a situation in which McDonough claims Bidwill had devised a plan for McDonough and then-head coach Steve Wilks to communicate with then-suspended general manager Steve Keim through burner phones. McDonough asserts that after voicing his concerns about the plan, he was written up for insubordination and, eventually, demoted.
McDonough has reportedly added more accusations in an amended arbitration complaint this week, accusing Bidwill and the Cardinals of defamation and invasion of privacy in response to McCarthy’s statement, according to ESPN’s Tisha Thompson. He called the statement “untrue and reprehensible,” and his wife, Lynette, called the statement “the most bizarre and dishonest thing that I have ever heard.” The new complaint also states that McDonough will prepare to pursue a civil complaint against McCarthy and his group, CounterPoint Strategies, for “grossly defamatory statements.”
The NFL recently selected Jeffrey Mishkin to arbitrate the employment dispute, according to another report from Thompson. Mishkin is the former chief legal officer for the NBA, leading the Association’s in-house legal department for seven years. He will determine the schedule of events, which are expected to last for several months.
Here are a few other rumors concerning staff positions in the NFL:
Earlier this month, Mike Florio of NBC Sports reported that the league’s Players Association was moving closer to selecting a new executive director. The final candidates are not yet known, but we’re not completely in the dark. Previously this year, The Athletic’s Daniel Kaplan identified candidatesMatt Schaub, the former quarterback, Kellen Winslow Sr., the former tight end, Teri Patterson Smith, the NFLPA chief operating officer, Don Davis, the NFLPA senior director of player affairs, George Atallah, the NFLPA assistant director of external affairs, and Dominique Foxworth, the former NFLPA president. A couple weeks ago, Jim Trotter, also of The Athletic, reported that no internal candidates made the cut, eliminating Smith, Davis, and Atallah. Foxworth is also expected to no longer be in consideration. Former wide receiver and former member of Congress Anthony Gonzalezhas been mentioned but not confirmed as a candidate. The NFLPA is proceeding with the process with the utmost confidentiality and plan to bring it to a close sooner rather than later.
After previously participating in the Chiefs‘ Norma Hunt Training Camp Fellowship Program last year, Madison Aponte was hired on as a player personnel assistant. According to Neil Stratton of SucceedinFootball.com, while Aponte’s title hasn’t changed, she will continue acting as the team’s college scouting coordinator, a role she’s held since the start of the 2022 season.
Stratton reports another addition, this time by the Packers. According to Stratton, Green Bay has hired Joey Laine in the role of salary cap analyst. Laine was a longtime presence in the Saints’ building after working with the team for more than ten years. He eventually left, following Ryan Pace to Chicago and working as the Bears’ director of football administration for eight seasons.
Finally, two former NFL head coaches have taken minor roles with new teams this season. According to Jeff Duncan of nola.com, the Saintshave brought in former Raiders head coachJon Gruden to assist in the integration of new quarterback Derek Carr in the Saints’ offense. Carr played his best statistical seasons under Gruden during their time together and Saints offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael welcomed Gruden’s assistance with open arms. The second former head coach is former Dolphins’ skipper Joe Philbin who, according to Pete Thamel of ESPN, has been hired as an offensive analyst at Ohio State.
Jackson has toured North America’s non-NFL coalitions, playing in The Spring League, CFL and XFL over the past three years. Jackson played in The Spring League in 2021, was on the Edmonton Elks’ roster last year and was on the D.C. Defenders’ roster during the most recent XFL season. His 573 receiving yards ranked fifth in the XFL. Jackson played collegiately at Western Kentucky, finishing his Hilltoppers career with a 1,133-yard season in 2019. That season included 16- and 17-reception efforts. Jackson’s 209 catches rank second in program history. This will be his first NFL shot.
Packers plans at using their Jaire Alexander–Eric Stokes cornerback duo have run into consistent turmoil. Alexander went down early in the 2021 season, just as Stokes entered the starting lineup. As Alexander returned last year, Stokes suffered season-ending injuries in November.
As of now, the former first-rounders are on track to suit up together in Week 1. Stokes suffered foot and knee injuries last year, and he confirmed Tuesday each required surgery. The procedures occurred at the same time, per ESPN.com’s Rob Demovsky, but they shut down Stokes for months (Twitter link).
Stokes suffered a Lisfranc injury, with the subsequent surgery ending with a plate inserted. Stokes said he resumed running earlier this month, roughly six months since the ailments sidelined him. This will be Stokes’ third season, though he has only played a handful of games with Alexander healthy.
The Packers will keep Stokes sidelined during OTAs, per The Athletic’s Matt Schneidman, who adds the 2021 first-rounder could not walk without crutches until mid-January. The knee surgery addressed Stokes’ meniscus (subscription required).
Should Stokes return to full strength as expected, the Packers will have a cornerback logjam. They tried Rasul Douglas in the slot alongside Alexander and Stokes last season, but the former midseason pickup is more comfortable as a boundary defender. That is also Stokes’ role, complicating matters. The Packers plan to use Keisean Nixon as their primary slot corner.
Although a team having four regular corners would be a good problem to have, the Packers have invested two first-round picks at the position and re-signed Douglas on a three-year, $21MM deal in 2022. Matt LaFleur said the team is planning a rotation between Alexander, Stokes and Douglas on the outside. Given Alexander’s contract (a corner-record $21MM per year) and value to the team, this plan would seemingly affect Stokes and Douglas more than it would Alexander. It will be interesting to see how this comes to fruition by September.
While slotting Alexander and Douglas as top-30 options at corner last season, Pro Football Focus graded Stokes outside the top 100. PFF gave Stokes a much better assessment as a rookie, ranking him inside the top 50. Nixon checked in just outside the top 60 in 2022, though the ex-Raider UDFA only played 290 defensive snaps. This will be an interesting puzzle to follow, with Stokes’ recovery being one of the most notable non-Jordan Love Packers storylines this summer.
MaxPircher will be joining the Lions via the league’s International Pathways Program. The team originally signed Austalian tight end PatrickMurtagh, who had to back out of his deal due to a medical issue, per Dave Birkett of the Detroit Free Press. Pircher played football in Austria and participated on Italy’s National Team before a stint on the Rams’ practice squad in 2021.
Tae Crowder became a popular name after he compiled 130 tackles in 17 starts for the Giants in 2021. He found himself sliding down the depth chart in 2022 before ultimately getting waived. He landed back on New York’s practice squad before being signed by the Steelers, where he didn’t get into a game while sitting on their active roster.
The Packers are set at the top of their cornerback depth chart heading into 2023, but their situation at the safety position is different. A competition for a starting safety spot will take place through the summer, but an early contender is in place amongst the team’s in-house options.
“I like where our safety room is in terms of the competition right now,” Packers safeties coach Ryan Downard said, via Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette. “There’s an opening there, and there’s only one guy in the room who’s played a ton of snaps for us… So it’s full competition when we go on the practice field.”
The player Downard is referring to, of course, is Rudy Ford. The latter joined Green Bay after being released by the Jaguars on the final day of roster cuts in August, leading to tempered expectations in his new home. Ford had started only six games in his career at that point, and had also spent time in Arizona and Philadelphia before his one-year stint in Jacksonville.
The former sixth-rounder played a career-high 442 snaps on defense in 2022, though, making him a key member of Green Bay’s secondary. Ford notched three interceptions and 44 total stops while logging a 43% snap share, which could put him in line for a step forward in playing time this season. Wood notes that Ford is the “top internal candidate” to replace Adrian Amosas a safety starter. The latter remains unsigned, and while a reunion could still be on the table, he has drawn interest from the Ravens as well.
That could leave Green Bay to rely on Ford in a tandem with 2019 first-rounder Darnell Savage, whose play at safety in particular has drawn signficant criticism. Depth at slot corner will bring Savage back to the safety spot, making identifying Amos’ replacement a top priority for the Packers if they are to take a forward step on defense this year.
Wood lists free agent signings Tarvarius Mooreand Jonathan Owensas the other top competitors for the spot. Each has considerable experience at the NFL level, but also a track record of heavy usage on special teams rather than defense for much of their careers. It is also in the third phase that most (if not all) of seventh-round rookie Anthony Johnson‘s playing time will come in 2023. Those factors should leave Ford in pole position for a first-team role, though much remains to be determined in the coming months.
The Packers entered last season with plans of moving Jenkins to right tackle — opposite a recovered David Bakhtiari, whom Jenkins had previously replaced on the left side — before shifting their younger Pro Bowl blocker back to guard. The left side of Green Bay’s offensive line — when Bakhtiari suits up, that is — is not in question. Competition will take place at other spots along the Packers’ O-line.
Although the Packers took Josh Myers in the 2021 second round and have used him as a starter in all 23 games he has played — including 17 last season — he will be challenged this year. Second-year blocker Zach Tom poses as the top challenger for both the center and right tackle spots, Matt Schneidman of The Athletic notes (subscription required).
Chosen in the fourth round out of Wake Forest, Tom started at both center and left tackle for the Demon Deacons. Bakhtiari’s issues staying on the field last season moved Tom into Green Bay’s lineup in his stead, and while a role as a super sub of sorts could end up being where Tom ends up this year, Matt LaFleur said earlier this offseason center might be the young lineman’s best spot. Pro Football Focus graded Myers as the league’s 26th-best center last season. While Myers shook off the health issues that plagued him as a rookie, the Ohio State alum will no longer be handed a gig in Green Bay.
Packers OC Adam Stenavich said (via ESPN’s Rob Demovsky) Tom will also compete at right guard, though Schneidman adds Jon Runyan Jr.‘s spot is probably safer than either Myers or right tackle Yosh Nijman‘s. PFF slotted Runyan 37th among guards last season. The second-generation pro is going into a contract year. Nijman played 555 right tackle snaps for the Pack last season; Tom played 84. Nijman being tendered at the second-round level ($4.3MM) as an RFA does illustrate Packer confidence, however. Royce Newman, who has started 22 games since his 2021 rookie year, remains on the roster as well. Newman showed rocky form last season but offers versatility in having played 100-plus snaps at guard and tackle in 2022.
PFF ranked the Packers’ O-line third in the league last season, putting the team on solid footing going into 2023. Last year featured both Bakhtiari and Jenkins rehabbing major knee injuries. Both returned in 2022. At $17MM per year, Jenkins is now the NFL’s third-highest-paid guard (behind Chris Lindstrom and Quenton Nelson). Bakhtiari remains the league’s third-highest-paid tackle, at $23MM per year. While Bakhtiari’s game count this year — after he missed 22 contests from 2021-22 — will play a significant role in his post-2023 Packers future, the franchise will begin its Jordan Love era with a quality foundation up front.