Packers salary cap situation limits potential trade packages with Jets
The Green Bay Packers are going to trade Aaron Rodgers to the New York Jets. The two questions are when and what sort of trade compensation will they get in return?
Along with potential draft picks, the Packers could be trying to get a player from the Jets as well. Green Bay has major needs at both tight end and safety, where depth and playmaking are required at each position. Wide receiver is a need as well, with this position being short on experience.
However, just like the Packers’ salary cap situation is limiting what they can do in free agency, it also may be impacting who they can get in return in a trade package. Over the Cap has the Packers with $21 million in available cap space, although that will shrink by at least $8.7 million once Rodgers is traded, and to even get to this point, it required the Packers to push over $45 million in cap charges to 2024 and beyond.
Jets receiver Corey Davis is one player that, from a football standpoint, would make a lot of sense for the Packers. He’s familiar with Matt LaFleur’s offense from his time in Tennessee, is an efficient pass catcher, and is a capable run blocker. But he’s 28 years old and comes with a cap hit of $10.5 million – an amount the Packers would have difficulty trying to absorb.
The Packers could extend him or add void years to his deal to lower the cap hit, but with Davis being a likely cut candidate anyways, Green Bay should wait for that to happen and see if they can sign him on a more reasonable contract, rather than committing multiple years to him and pushing more cap charges to future years.
Like Davis, Carl Lawson is another potential salary cap casualty for the Jets, making him a possible trade candidate as well. But with a base salary of $15 million, he is well out of the Packers’ price range.
Safety Jordan Whitehead should be another player on the Packers’ radar. He’s a willing tackler and run defender and is still just 26 years old. The Packers, however, would be on the hook for $7.25 million in 2023 – the final year of his deal. This is a more doable cap hit for the Packers to absorb – but perhaps still on the high side – and Whitehead is a prime contract extension candidate to help lower the cap hit. But nonetheless, his contract would have to be reworked.
The addition of Tyler Conklin would add some needed playmaking to the Packers’ tight end room, but with the Jets having just restructured his contract with void years, thus pushing cap charges to future years, along with having paid him a signing bonus, a trade is likely no longer an option – and it might have never been in the first place.
Players who do make sense for the Packers from a position and salary cap perspective include Elijah Moore, who still has two years left on his rookie deal and would come with a cap hit of just $1.4 million for Green Bay. Moore caught 37 passes in 2022 for 446 yards and a touchdown. Perhaps with the addition of Allen Lazard and potentially Randall Cobb, trading Moore becomes more likely, but he also could very well be someone the Jets aren’t willing to part with.
Speaking of not willing to part with, you can probably put Jermaine Johnson in that category. Johnson was a first-round pick by the Jets in 2022 and totaled 14 pressures in just 312 snaps as a rookie. Given that his salary in 2023 is only $1.299 million and that bolstering the edge depth should be on Green Bay’s radar, this makes a lot of sense for them. But, again, the Jets very well could have no interest.
Truthfully, the most realistic option for the Packers might be Denzel Mims. He still has one year left on an affordable rookie contract, and with only 43 combined targets over the last two seasons, he’s struggled to find a role in the Jets’ offense–which means New York could be willing to include him in a trade, especially if they add more receivers in free agency.
It’s also important to keep in mind that Moore will be a free agent in 2025 and Mims in 2024, so both would need new contracts if the Packers intend to keep them beyond their rookie deals.
Ultimately, the better the player that the Packers can get in return for Rodgers, the less draft capital they will receive. For a team that has salary cap limitations, gaining an additional draft pick or a better one could be more valuable than absorbing a new contract and trying to make it work with their already stressed salary cap situation.
Picking realistic player targets from Jets in upcoming Aaron Rodgers trade