Who Are The Packers Most Likely To Cut?

You can only keep so many players and with any addition of a rookie or free agent, another player has to go.  Question is who. 

While many fans are excitingly waiting to see what kind of big name free agents Packers general manager Ted Thompson decides to not sign, the flip side of the coin is that often times players are released to make room for those big free agent contracts.  While the Packers aren’t likely to sign a huge free agent contract, that doesn’t mean that the Packers front office won’t clean house a little to open up more money for extensions and resignings.  But which players are most likely to be cut by the Packers?  Over The Cap has developed the Expected Contract Value (ECV) metric which attempts to measure how invested a team is to a certain player.  Players with average salaries higher than $2 million are included and the metric looks at the following points.

·      Dead money ratio: Essentially this looks at how much money a team would save by releasing a player versus how much dead money his release would incure.  The higher the ratio is towards dead money, the more likely a team will not cut a player even when that player is not performing to the level of his contract

·      Remaining contract: Somewhat similar to the dead money ratio, this looks at how much money a team has spent on a player versus how much more is due based on his contract.  As players go through their contracts, the amount due becomes less and less and thus the penalty of cutting them also becomes less.  Some contracts have high dead money figures at the end of their contracts that make it prohibitive to cut a player but usually those are reserved for high priced free agents.

·      Peak age: Simply the difference in age to a player versus when the age of players that play his position typically produce the most.  Running backs will have lower peak ages than quarterbacks.

·      Approximate value: taken from ProFootball Reference, AV attempts to assign a value for each season a player participates in.  You can read the nitty gritty details here

1.     Julius Peppers – (22.8% ECV): The obvious candidate on the team, Peppers unfortunately hits pretty much every metric point involved in calculating ECV.  Not only is Peppers way past the peak age for defensive linemen but he pretty much shatters even the ceiling at 36.  Add to that a contract that will pay him $10.5 million, $8 million of which can be saved by cutting him.  Finally he’s a free agent after 2016 with no dummy or void years, meaning the Packers have no more money invested in him.  Mike Neal and Nick Perry are also set to become free agents and are much younger and likely a lot cheaper as well.  However, Peppers is perhaps the only truly consistent pass rushing force outside of Clay Matthews, who likely has been permanently installed at ILB, meaning the Packers do have a need at the position.  Given all that I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Packers approach Peppers for an overall pay cut in return more guaranteed money, which is currently only comprised 23% of his salary.  

2.     Jordy Nelson – (40.8% ECV): A little bit of a surprise given many analyst and fans have decided that the loss of Nelson was the entire reason behind the Packers offensive regression.  I have never been a proponent of that theory and the injury couldn’t have happened at a worse time for Nelson.  Nelson signed a very team friendly contract in 2014 that only really starts to balloon in cost this year in 2016.  In 2015, Nelson’s contract was a very low $4.6 million, which then nearly doubles to $8.3 million this year followed by the bulk of the money, which comes in at $11.5 million in 2017 and $12.5 in 2018.  While the Packers likely don’t believe that Jordy Nelson was the only reason why the Packers offense was so poor this year, not having him certainly didn’t help and $8.3 million (and the sense of loyalty to Nelson, which is likely huge for Thompson and Russ Ball), will almost certainly keep him on the team this year.  The bigger problem is that if Nelson doesn’t recover as well as has been reported, he very well could be a release in 2017. 

3.     TJ Lang – (61.3% ECV): Interestingly TJ Lang makes this list while fellow guard Josh Sitton (90.8% ECV) doesn’t.  From a purely contract standpoint, Sitton is actually more likely to get cut; both are on the last year of their contracts with around $6-7 million due this year.  Lang actually is slightly more protected as he has $1.1 million guaranteed this year from his signing, roster and work bonuses while Sitton has $0 guaranteed money in 2016.  Sitton is also 1 year older, so why is Lang in danger of being cut while Sitton isn’t?  The only possible reason is that Sitton is a much more decorated player and his relative “performance” is significantly higher than Lang’s.  While from a pure cash and careerAV perspective this may be true (Sitton has been named All-Pro/Pro Bowl etc.)  Lang is certainly an above average to maybe even borderline elite guard.  In the end this is likely more the fault of the fickle nature of popularity and not so much about the money.

4.     Datone Jones – (64% ECV): Jones has a very interesting case.  On one hand he has the pedigree of being a 1st round draft choice and thus it’s possible that the Packers exercise the 5th year option.  However the Packers have yet to actually exercise the offer once since its inception (though that statement is likely a little biased since the Derek Sherrod and Nick Perry are the only two players who even had a 5th year option).  To be honest, it’s hard to think of what the Packers think of Jones; on one hand he can be disruptive in both the pass and the run but he’s injured quite often and was hit with a 1 game suspension for substance abuse.  My guess is that they go 3 for 3 and not exercise their option until next year with Clinton-Dix meaning Jones is on a contract year.  At $2.4 million, cutting Jones likely doesn’t make much sense given that 40% of it is guaranteed and the low overall value.  Again this is likely an issue with the metric as rookie contracts don’t really fit the mold of a standard contract given they are almost entirely guaranteed.  

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Comments (18)

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Bearmeat's picture

February 26, 2016 at 12:33 pm

None of these guys will be cut. I really think TT will pay Pep for the final year of his deal and draft his replacement in the first 3 rounds this year.

D Jones will be gone after this coming year. No way he's given the 5th year tender.

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hobbes's picture

February 26, 2016 at 01:02 pm

I think Peppers will be asked to restructure; I'm not convinced that Peppers is worth $10.8 million but I also don't think that cutting him makes the team any better. I would guess that Peppers would have to accept a smaller deal for more guaranteed money, he likely isn't going to command much attention in free agency and I doubt he'll have a better chance to win a Super Bowl, which is presumably one of his last goals.

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WKUPackFan's picture

February 26, 2016 at 07:21 pm

Agreed. Hopefully Peppers restructures. No way he's worth 10+ million. Somewhat akin to the Woodson situation.

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AgrippaLII's picture

February 26, 2016 at 11:43 pm

I agree with Bearmeat...Ted is well aware that the ILB and TE positions need attention and I expect he'll address both of them sometime in the draft. D Jones has lived off his first round draft pick billing long enough... TT will go after a pass rusher with his first pick this year. Jones won't be tendered for a fifth year. As for the guards I expect him to resign at least one if not both of them. TT probably feels that he can replace one of them with what he has on the team now. Jordy isn't going anywhere. Peppers will play out his final year...his departure after this season is another reason I think TT has to make a pass rusher his primary concern. I think he'll reach to get one if he has to.

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Packer_Pete's picture

February 26, 2016 at 12:40 pm

I also agree with Bearmeat, none of those guys will be cut.

The most curious case in TJ Lang. While I agree that overall Sitton is the much more "decorated" player, I also could make a case that TJ was the best OL player this year. Way ahead of Sitton IMHO. Given that Sitton is a year older and given that he has to take some breaks in practice due to nagging issues, especially back issues, I think that if one of the two had to be cut, it would have to be Sitton. Not that I think either one is going anywhere, but with Sitton, the writing is on the wall. It would be wise for Ted to eventually look for his replacement, maybe even in this draft, and find a young guy at OG to groom for when Sitton declines.

I hope the contract year lights a fire for Datone. He plays well at times, but is invisible quite often as well.

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hobbes's picture

February 26, 2016 at 01:04 pm

I agree, I think this probably has more to do with their simply being no good way to grade offensive linemen, especially interior offensive linemen, and Lang gets washed away by his more popular counterpart in Sitton. Given that both Sitton and Lang are 4th rounders, I wouldn't be all too surprised to see Thompson draft one sometime in the middle of the draft this year.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 26, 2016 at 01:24 pm

Players who might not be on the 53 in 2016 (asterisk for guys on the 53 at the end of 2015):

Abbrederis*, Bachman*, Barclay*, Banjo*, Boyd, Bradford, Campbell, Crockett*, Daniel* (Robertson, i.e.), Goode, Goodson*, Hayward*, Henry, Janis*, Johnson, JJ*, Kuhn*, Lovato*, McBryde, Mulumba*, Palmer*, Perillo*, Quarless*, Raji*, Richardson, Ringo, Rotherham, Starks*, Taylor*, Thomas*, Tolzien*, Vujnovich, Walker*, Williams (Ed), Williams (Ryan).

Boyd, Montgomery, Nelson are returning from IR.

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TommyG's picture

February 27, 2016 at 11:21 pm

Not a bad list, but some of those names are 50/50. For instance: I don't see TT cutting both long snappers. Janis and Abby? Very possible but highly unlikely.

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Thegreatreynoldo's picture

February 28, 2016 at 01:53 am

Thanks. I tried to include anyone close to being in danger (I should have listed Neal and Perry since many think TT only re-signs one of them). The list is not reflective of my personal opinions: there are several players I listed that I personally would have defended vehemently

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Amanofthenorth's picture

February 29, 2016 at 01:26 am

the Williams boys they still mean a lot to me....

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lou's picture

February 26, 2016 at 02:38 pm

Even with the addition to the total salary cap it would be fair to both the player and team to restructure Pepper's deal, they did it with Hawk before his last season. With both guards coming up for free agency soon, the more they save now the better, keeping Sitton and Lang need to be a priority. Forget the ankle injuries and the position moves with Datone Jones, he was a mistake at #1, look how Randall and Rollin's showed immediately as high picks, and even a mid rounder like Hyde showed he belonged day one, Jones should not count on them picking up his option.

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sheppercheeser's picture

February 26, 2016 at 05:28 pm

A truly tough call- I love Sitton and TJ but as the Patriots preach, better to cut a player one year to early than one year too late. Maybe Tretter or Lane enter into the mix. That being said, we certainly need to draft for Josh and TJ's eventual replacements.

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marpag1's picture

February 27, 2016 at 12:58 am

LOL. "Advanced metrics" for Expected Contract Value? Sounds very much like something developed by people who have far too much time and far too little sense.

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4thand1's picture

February 27, 2016 at 09:57 am

The business side of football gets more complicated all the time. Teams have to have people with an economics degree to figure this shit out. Every team says it just wants football players. Hell ,they're all players with agents looking to cash in. Lucas field is full of agents drinking pepto hoping their guys don't under preform and cost them money.

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Samson's picture

February 27, 2016 at 04:38 pm

None of these guys are going anywhere. --- The Pack just don't have enough "impact players" to start cutting any possible impact players. --- But I do think that Datone needs an almost All-Pro year to stick around another year. --- At this point, he's a bust.

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The GrEEn kNiGhT's picture

February 28, 2016 at 11:29 am

Cut Peppers and get Hali. Sign Hali to a 3 year deal close to Peppers deal.

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holmesmd's picture

February 28, 2016 at 12:43 pm

So you're going to sign a 32 y/o with 2 gimpy knees who had 6.5 sacks in his last 15 games in favor of the Packer's sack leader who hasn't missed a game? Huh?! Not a move I would make this season.

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al bundy's picture

February 28, 2016 at 05:44 pm

I think tight ass Ted will keep anyone who comes cheap, At least cheaper than finding a free agent replacement or wasting a top draft pick on.
Datone will come cheap to keep and nothing to gain cutting. Ditto several others like Raji, who will stay because he knows his value is about nil outside the packers org.
Ted plays cheap ball, so this crap he likes to keep his people is bull. He let two pro bowlers at the top of their careers go so he didn't have to pony up to the bar but keeps the cheap ass players.

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