The NFL announced the 2014 salary cap today at $133 million per team, up $10 million from last year’s mark of $123 million.
As part of the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement, teams can also carry over unspent cap dollars from the previous season. The Green Bay Packers are expected to bring over an additional $9.98 million. With that added amount the Packers are close to $35 million under the salary cap, as it stands right now.
At first glance, it would appear the Green Bay could be poised to do some serious shopping in free agency when it begins in two weeks. Keep in mind that the Packers have a few of their own guys that they are going to want to get taken care of as well.
The most obvious Packers in that category are receivers Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb. Both are currently set to become free agents after 2014 and both are a priority for the team to retain. It would be wise for the Packers to use some of their cushiony cap space now to get Nelson and Cobb done and ease the load for future years.
A few other current Packers players set to become free agents next month and who the Packers surely would like to see back are cornerback Sam Shields and center Evan Dietrich-Smith.
The Packers reportedly held some talks with Shields’ agent Drew Rosenhaus at the NFL Scouting Combine last week. As the team’s top defensive back who is only 26 years old, Shields is exactly the type of player that Packers general manager Ted Thompson likes to spend his money on. That Shields knows the defense, the team and the coaching staff doesn’t hurt either.
With veteran corner Tramon Williams set to make $6.9 million this season, Shields could be looking to land a deal close to four years and between $7-9 million per season, on average. With the team having a major need at the safety position as well, locking up Shields and solidifying the cornerback position seems to make more sense than not.
In Dietrich-Smith’s case, the added cap space may allow the Packers the ability to be more competitive for him. He will surely get offers in free agency, but it’s hard to say where those numbers will fall. Returning EDS would give the Packers essentially the same starting offensive line that they went into training camp with last season. Continuity on the line would be a benefit to the Packers offense.