Why the Packers can keep more of their key players for 2023 regardless of Rodgers' decision
With the 2023 salary cap exceeding expectations, the Packers have the necessary flexibility to retain more of their key players whether or not Aaron Rodgers returns.
Less than a month has passed since the Green Bay Packers' 2022 season came to a close, yet so much of their near future remains undecided. And while the club controls most of the major decisions, the biggest one lies in the hands of their quarterback.
At some point over the coming weeks, Aaron Rodgers will inform the team whether he plans to retire, return to Green Bay for a 19th season, or continue his playing career with another franchise. That determination will have significant ramifications for the four-time MVP signal-caller, the Packers, and the rest of the league. Understandably, Rodgers doesn't want to rush the process.
"It's going to be a little bit more time for my decision," Rodgers said Tuesday on The Pat McAfee Show. "And I feel confident that in a couple weeks I'll feel definitely more strongly about one of the two decisions."
By now, most understand the implications of each of Rodgers' choices. If he hangs up the cleats or requests a trade, the Packers would avoid a significant financial commitment that stretches past 2023. Should Rodgers decide to stay, Green Bay would have to rearrange some of their existing contracts but could reload in some form for another run at a championship. Each scenario involves considerable risk in one form or another and has already created divides among media analysts and the fan base.
But while a decision from Rodgers remains some time away, the Packers received some important news this week: the NFL's announcement of the 2023 salary cap threshold. That figure opens up intriguing possibilities for the team regardless of who ultimately starts under center during the upcoming season.
Exceeding initial expectations
In the early months of the 2022 league year, NFL teams had more modest expectations for where the salary cap would land the following cycle. While the financial hit from the COVID-impacted 2020 season had already hit the books and the spike in revenue from the new television contracts lay just around the corner, most front offices budgeted for an unadjusted 2023 cap somewhere between $214 million and $218 million. At the higher end of that range, teams would only see an increase of about $10 million.
But around Thanksgiving, those expectations started to change. Around that time, the NFLPA had begun to inform agents that the cap would likely increase by an even greater amount. The union's optimism proved valid, as NFL Network reported Monday that the final number would come in at $224.8 million.
While that total didn't come as a surprise to teams based on their information leading up to the reveal, it does represent a sizable departure from their expectations last offseason when front offices projected their future budgets. That means that many clubs now find themselves with upwards of $10 million in additional funds for their rosters.
For teams like the Chicago Bears, that doesn't make much of a difference. They already expected to begin 2023 flush with salary-cap space, so the additional funds don't alter their approach. However, for those like the Packers facing greater cap restraints, the added space could flip some personnel decisions as well as open the door to more significant acquisitions.