Time is of the essence for Packers, Jets and Aaron Rodgers with legal tampering period near
For both the Green Bay Packers and the New York Jets, it’s in the best interest of both teams that the trade for Aaron Rodgers – which seems inevitable at this point – is finalized before Monday.
NFL free agency and the new league year begins on Wednesday, March 15th, but two days prior, on Monday the 13th, the legal tampering period opens. This gives teams the opportunity to begin negotiating deals with unrestricted free agents that will then take effect on March 15th.
Trading Rodgers carries a significant salary cap impact for both the Packers and Jets. For Green Bay, Rodgers’ impact on the salary cap, if traded, goes from a $31.6 million cap hit to a dead cap hit of $40.3 million. And if the Packers end up taking on any of his $59.5 million guaranteed salary, that will only increase the already substantial dead cap hit.
In the Jets’ case, acquiring Rodgers adds another $15.79 million to their salary cap. Neither of the described scenarios takes into account if there are any other players involved in this trade either, also impacting the salary cap.
If this decision leaks into Monday, one would think that it will impact both the Packers’ and Jets’ approach to free agency, with there being a potential big salary cap swing based on whether a trade does or does not take place. I’m sure both teams have a few different scenarios of their cap situation laid out, along with how they will approach each if that’s the path they have to go down, but not knowing with certainty what cap number they will be operating under could lead to a passive approach as the other 30 teams begin negotiating.
For instance, with Rodgers’ the Packers have about $24 million in cap space. If he retires, they’ll have roughly $40 million in cap space, according to Over the Cap. If traded, Green Bay has about $16 million available, but if they have to take on any of his guaranteed salary, that $16 million figure shrinks.
On Saturday morning, Connor Hughes of Sports Illustrated reported that a deal between the Packers and Jets was done, but they were waiting on Rodgers’ decision. Later in the day, Tom Pelissero of NFL Network would report that a deal between the two teams isn’t done and that they are still waiting on a decision from Rodgers first.
My guess is that the answer lies somewhere in the middle. The Packers and Jets likely aren’t this far down the rabbit hole without some sort of framework of a trade having been discussed, but there still may be some details to iron out. Either way, finalizing anything hinges on a decision from Rodgers, which at this point, is either heading to the Jets or retiring.
During the NFL Combine, I wrote that there was still plenty of time for Rodgers and the Packers to make a decision on his future. Whether a conclusion was reached on February 27th or March 9th, didn’t much matter as there was still plenty of time to work out a deal before the legal tampering period and free agency. That time, however, has now evaporated.
Packers’ President Mark Murphy said in an interview that he hopes a conclusion is reached soon. Ideally, this trade and the details are ironed out before Monday at 11:00 CST when the legal tampering period begins, so the Packers – and Jets – know their exact salary cap situation as they look into making free agent additions.
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