The terminated contracts of nine players will count about $25 million in dead money on the Green Bay Packers salary cap by the 2022 season. Dead money occurs at the limit when a future pro rata is accelerated by a contract termination by the team.
For example, let’s say a player signs a three-year contract with a $3 million signing bonus. The bonus does not all reach the limit in year 1; it’s prorated $1 million on the cap for each of the three years. So if the player is released after his second season, the remaining $1 million will have to be deposited into the team cap as dead money that year.
Some practical examples will clarify. Below we’ll explain how the Packers got to $24,630,944 in dead money in 2022. It’s an abnormally high figure for the franchise, but sometimes dead money is the cost of doing business when a team is all in and going for a title with a future Hall of Fame quarterback.
The hardest thing about dead money? It pays precious cap dollars to a player who is no longer on the team. And in some cases, it allocates more cap space to a player who eventually returns.
Here are the nine terminated contracts that will add extra dead money to the Packers salary cap in 2022:
Za’Darius Smith: $11,424,443
Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
The Packers released Smith in March. He had a cap of nearly $27.7 million in 2022, so the Packers had to move on, even if it meant taking over $11 million in dead money. The team restructured Smith’s deal ahead of the 2021 season, adding more pro rata to the pile of dead money in 2022. Guaranteed money must always be paid out at the limit. Smith later signed a new deal to join the Minnesota Vikings.
OL Billy Turner: $5,810,000
(AP Photo/Kamil Krzaczynski)
The Packers will pay nearly $6 million on the cap for Turner to play for the Denver Broncos in 2022. Like Smith, Turner was released in March on salary cap reasons. And like Smith, his contract was restructured off-season last season (think converting base pay and roster bonus into a signing bonus), which is now adding to the dead money figure. The Packers have had some tough decisions to make over the past two offseasons, and there is always a price to pay. Not having Smith or Turner on the roster for 2022 at more than $17 million on the cap is the price.
CB Kevin King: $3,000,000
(AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)
King is an example of the void annual contract structuring. The Packers re-signed King to a one-year contract with four voided years ahead of the 2021 season. The blanks were used for short-term cap relief. As the team added four voided years, King’s $3.75 million signing bonus was spread over five years on the 2021 cap, but when the deal was voided after the season, the remaining $3,000,000 in signing bonus reached the cap. for the 2022 season. King remains unsigned, although it’s possible he could return to Green Bay at some point.
TE Robert Tonyan: $1,879,200
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Tonyan returned to the Packers on a one-year deal (with a void year in 2023), but he will be counting on the cap extra this year due to the empty years added to his latest deal. In 2021, the Packers added invalid years to Tonyan’s limited contract tender to lower his maximum number. That deal was annulled after the 2021 season, with the remainder of his signing bonus being distributed pro rata in 2022. Unless a new deal is worked out before his contract expires after the 2022 season, Tonyan will add dead money to the pile in 2023 as well.
CB Chandon Sullivan: $970,400
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The Packers restructured Sullivan’s one-year deal last September, converting base salary into a signing bonus and adding four voided years. The deal was annulled after the season, adding dead money in the form of accelerated pro rata to the cap in 2022. Another example of kicking the can in terms of the salary cap. Sullivan signed with the Vikings.
LB De’Vondre Campbell: $808,000
(AP Photo/Peter Aiken)
The Packers added invalid years to Campbell’s one-year deal last year, and he was not re-signed until his last deal was officially declared void after the season. The team eventually re-signed Campbell on a $50 million deal, but an additional $800K reached the limit in the form of dead money.
TE Jace Sternberger: $251,632
(AP Photo/Jeffrey T. Barnes)
The Packers released Sternberger, a third round pick in 2019, during the regular season last year. As a draft pick on Day 2, Sternberger was still guaranteed to have money left in his deal. The remainder of his prorated signing bonus has reached its 2022 cap.
LB Kamal Martin: $135,530
(AP Photo/Jeffrey Phelps)
The Packers cut Martin, a fifth round pick in 2020, during training camp last August. The remaining portion of his signing bonus has reached the limit for 2022.
OL Cole Van Lanen: $115,266
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Van Lanen eventually returned to the exhibition squad and remains on the roster, but he was released during the last budget cuts last year. The small portion of the sixth-round signing bonus was to be accelerated to the cap in 2022.