Packers’ actions in free agency tell us Aaron Rodgers will be traded before June 1st
When the Green Bay Packers and New York Jets are going to come to an agreement on an Aaron Rodgers trade still remains an unknown. However, as salary cap guru Ken Ingalls points out, if we “follow the money,” we should expect it to be before June 1st.
The reason that June 1st is an important date in all of this is that instead of Rodgers’ dead cap hit for the 2023 season being $40.3 million, that figure would be spread out over the next two seasons if he’s traded after that date. This means that Rodgers’ dead cap hit for 2023 would be $15.8 million and then $24.5 million in 2024. Green Bay’s available cap space would also go from being at roughly $22 million to in the neighborhood of $37 million.
But if we follow the money, as Ingalls says, the Packers’ actions in free agency don’t reflect a team that is going to be flush with salary cap space. Rather it’s one that has been frugal and with little spending power.
In preparation for a dead cap hit north of $40 million that is going to cut the Packers’ available cap space nearly in half, along with other normal operating expenses that will eat up cap space as well, Green Bay has done their best to address some positional needs, but they’ve been very salary cap-conscious when it comes to those additions. Of the eight players that they have signed since the NFL’s legal tampering period began two weeks ago, Keisean Nixon has the largest cap hit at just $2.77 million.
Another aspect to consider in all of this is that if a trade is completed prior to June 1st, the Packers will be free and clear of Rodgers’ contract in 2024 by taking on the entire dead cap hit this season. Of course, the Packers still want to win games this season. It’s not as if this is a full-blown rebuild by any means, as evidenced by all of the contracts they chose to restructure this offseason. Green Bay still wants good players around Jordan Love in his first season as a starter.
However, with that said, this also isn’t a Packers team with championship aspirations in 2023, either. Along with trying to win games, their top priority should be figuring out if Love can be their quarterback for the next decade-plus. If he can be, they will have a lot more salary cap flexibility in 2024 to add to this roster than if Rodgers’ still had a $24.5 million dead cap hit on the books.
OTAs for both the Packers and Jets begin on April 17th, but it feels like the first real deadline for this trade to take place will be Day 1 of the NFL Draft.