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Green Bay - It doesn't matter if you're the best team in the NFL or the worst, there is going to be turnover on your roster.For some teams like the Green Bay Packers, it's a function of building almost exclusively through the draft and favoring younger players over older ones. Some of the players who won't be back next season might not even know it until late April, when the Packers replace them with draft picks.Still, every off-season tough decisions are made based on salary, and the Packers are not exempt this year from having to make them.Through prudent salary cap management over the past decade they have never had to completely strip down a team and start over due to bloated veteran contracts.This year, through a mechanism negotiated in the last labor agreement and available to all NFL teams, the Packers have been able to carry over to 2013 all $7,010,832 of cap room they had leftover in 2012.If they weren't allowed to carry over that money, they would be tight to a 2013 salary cap that is expected to be about the same as last season's $120.6 million limit. They have roughly $120.7 million dedicated to the highest-paid 51 players - the number the NFL counts in the off-season - through existing contracts.So, with the '12 cap room carried over, the Packers have about $7 million of cap space a month and a half before the start of the new NFL year. Some of that will be shaved off through restricted free agent tenders and contract escalators before free agency starts, but they will still be comfortably under the cap.Following their 45-31 divisional playoff loss to the San Francisco 49ers, Packers general manager Ted Thompson and coach Mike McCarthy have the task of determining how they can get better.At the same time, they have to think about addressing the contracts of future free agents like linebacker Clay Matthews (2014), nose tackle B.J. Raji (2014), quarterback Aaron Rodgers (2015), cornerback Sam Shields (2013, restricted) and tight end Jermichael Finley (2014).In order to lock up even two or three of those players it's going to take a lot of cash and salary cap space.After making $42.7 million in profit last fiscal year, the cash shouldn't be a problem. President Mark Murphy made it clear last summer that the Packers were able to compete with other franchises when it comes to large signing bonuses, a common tool for keeping salary cap numbers manageable."There's no question there's flexibility," Murphy said of having so much cash around, "but with the salary cap there's limits on what you can do. But I look at it as we can remain competitive."The cap factor is something different altogether and it is something that Thompson and vice president of player finance Russ Ball are going to have to manage to get some of those players signed. Anticipating a need for cap room is a big reason the Packers did not offer receiver Greg Jennings a contract extension and are prepared to let him leave in free agency.In all likelihood, it's going to require some unsavory trims to get the desired amount of salary cap room to sign players as valuable as Rodgers, Matthews and the others. The Packers could wait out the future free agents and try to sign them after this season, but they would only have a two-month window to get something done before all but Rodgers become free agents.So, where can the Packers get the money?Here are some potential sources through contract terminations with the cap money the Packers would gain:Safety Charles Woodson, $10 millionTight end Finley, $8.25 millionLinebacker A.J. Hawk, $2.25 millionCenter Jeff Saturday, $2.2 millionFullback John Kuhn, $2.6 millionIt's a given that Saturday won't be back, and if the Packers really want the cap flexibility to offer contract extensions they're going to have to either release Woodson or get him to take a major pay cut. Assuming the Packers have $5 million of cap room (after the restricted tenders are offered), they could increase that total to $17.2 million by cutting ties with Woodson and Saturday.Given they have no other fullbacks on the roster, releasing Kuhn would be a risk, especially when his salary isn't extraordinary. But it's not out of the question.Finley and Hawk are other subjects all together.McCarthy sure made it seem like Finley would be back when he talked to reporters in his season-ending news conference."I feel very good about the way he finished the year," McCarthy said. "He did some good things (against the 49ers). There was a change in that young man. But we obviously have to look at the first half (of the season), too, and make sure that's part of the evaluation because we're all judged on 17 games."Shearing off $8.25 million certainly has to be attractive to Thompson and Ball, but with Jennings leaving they can't afford to just let receiving targets walk.Letting Hawk go would be a gamble given Desmond Bishop is coming off a torn hamstring, D.J. Smith tore up his knee during the season, Brad Jones is a free agent and Terrell Manning couldn't get on the field. On the other hand, Thompson may try to find in the draft a bigger, more physical linebacker to play inside and could chance that Bishop, Smith and Manning are a strong enough core.Because Hawk has two years left on his contract with $3.2 million of prorated signing bonus to absorb, the net gain is only $2.25 million. If the Packers waited until after June 1 to cut him, they could push the $3.2 million to 2014 and get the full relief of Hawk's $5.45 million salary.The roster doesn't have many other players who are candidates for cap relief. Most of the highest-paid players are ones Thompson recently signed to extensions.There also aren't a lot of players he needs to re-sign as unrestricted free agents. The group includes receiver Donald Driver, linebacker Erik Walden, running back Cedric Benson and Jones. It's very possible none of them will be back.The bottom line is the cost to sign Matthews long-term could be more than $70 million on a five- or six-year deal. Raji's deal shouldn't be too far behind. Rodgers' deal would probably be for six or seven years and worth well more than $100 million.There are ways to structure the contracts so the immediate cap hits aren't great, but that would put future years in jeopardy. Thompson and Ball would like to dump as much money from those contracts into the 2013 season, thus making them less burdensome in the future.To do that, it means creating as much space as possible this year. And that means roster changes."Change is constant, and I think everybody understands that," McCarthy said. "I don't exactly know what the statistics are, but I know it has been around 20% for us, the way your roster changes every year. That will probably hold true this year."CAPPING IT OFFHere is a list of each Green Bay Packers player under contract for the 2013 season, his salary cap number and the money he will actually be paid. Only the top 51 cap numbers count against the cap in the off-season. At the bottom is a list of "dead money," which is any cap charge carried over from someone who was released during the 2012 season. In some cases, that player was re-signed.Pos. Cap number Cash owedAaron Rodgers QB $9,750,000 $9,750,000Charles Woodson S $9,437,500 $10,000,000Jermichael Finley TE $8,750,000 $8,250,000Tramon Williams CB $8,500,000 $6,500,000A.J. Hawk LB $7,050,000 $5,450,000Ryan Pickett DE $6,700,000 $6,200,000B.J. Raji DT $6,195,000 $4,315,000Josh Sitton OL $5,550,000 $4,350,000Desmond Bishop LB $4,764,000 $3,964,000Jeff Saturday OL $4,625,000 $3,750,000Jordy Nelson WR $3,975,000 $3,150,000James Jones WR $3,750,000 $3,250,000Mason Crosby K $3,150,000 $2,550,000T.J. Lang OL $3,100,000 $2,000,000Clay Matthews LB $2,672,500 $1,532,500John Kuhn RB $2,543,750 $2,350,000Bryan Bulaga OL $2,125,500 $962,000Derek Sherrod OL $1,800,546 $975,182Jarrett Bush CB $1,783,333 $1,450,000Nick Perry LB $1,704,375 $730,875Tim Masthay P $1,105,000 $865,000Jerel Worthy DT $897,319 $569,464Randall Cobb WR $875,299 $666,766Mike Neal DT $865,000 $575,000Brett Goode OL $821,250 $740,000Morgan Burnett S $793,775 $575,000Casey Hayward CB $752,253 $540,451Alex Green RB $691,250 $562,500Davon House CB $630,145 $555,000Graham Harrell QB $630,000 $630,000Andrew Quarless TE $620,607 $575,000Marshall Newhouse OL $612,464 $575,000D.J. Williams TE $604,500 $555,000James Starks RB $600,075 $575,000C.J. Wilson DE $587,590 $575,000Darryl Smith LB $580,788 $555,000Ryan Taylor TE $569,794 $555,000Jamari Lattimore LB $556,668 $555,000M.D. Jennings S $555,834 $555,000Mike Daniels DT $555,146 $480,000Jerron McMillian S $555,146 $480,000DuJuan Harris RB $555,000 $555,000Brandon Saine RB $555,000 $555,000Terrell Manning LB $522,870 $480,000Dezman Moses LB $481,166 $480,000Sean Richardson S $481,666 $480,000Don Barclay OL $480,833 $480,000Jarrett Boykin WR $480,000 $480,000Jordan Miller DT $480,000 $480,000Jeremy Ross WR $480,000 $480,000Greg Van Roten OL $480,000 $480,000Brandon Bostick TE $405,000 $405,000B.J. Coleman QB $405,000 $405,000Andrew Datko OL $405,000 $405,000Garth Gerhart OL $405,000 $405,000Joe Gibbs OL $405,000 $405,000Micah Johnson LB $405,000 $405,000James Nixon CB $405,000 $405,000Chaz Powell CB $405,000 $405,000"Dead money" B.J. Coleman QB $34,422Andrew Datko OL $34,422 Lawrence Guy DE $22,950 Tommie Draheim OL $5,667 Dale Moss WR $3,334 Marc Tyler RB $3,334 Jaymes Brooks OL $3,000 Duane Bennett RB $2,667 Vic So'oto LB $2,834 Eric Lair TE $1,667 Mike McCabe OL $1,667 Nicholas Cooper RB $1,000 Dion Turner CB $667 Shaky Smithson WR $334
Wasn't Saturday only signed to a one year deal anyway? Or was that just Benson?
The Packers are going to have to get creative with the cap. The Packers have Matthews, Raji, Finley, and Jones all UFA after 2013 season and Rodgers and Nelson after the 2014 season. The Packers are going to have hard choices to make I don't know if you can keep them all as likely they could all see their per year numbers double outside of Finley.