USATSI 12876817 1

Can Packers navigate salary cap to sign JJ Watt?

The Packers released a few players on Friday, sparking speculation about them signing JJ Watt, but it still looks like a difficult feat to pull off, given the salary cap.

NFL teams are known for being able to manipulate salaries and contract structures to navigate the cap, so it’s just assumed that they’ll be able to sign Watt. He was born and raised in Wisconsin, and attended college there, after all. Not only that, it sure looks like he’d be open to playing for them, especially with the Packers having been a few plays away from the Super Bowl.

But it’s not as simple as it looks.

They may have released Christian Kirksey and Rick Wagner, clearing $10.2 million in cap room, but they’re still only $10 million below the $180 million cap limit. Watt made $15.5 million this season, and was projected to make $17.5 million in his upcoming campaign, so he’d need to take a sizable pay cut, which he may not be willing to do.

If Watt truly does want to play in Green Bay, we think both parties will find a way to make it work, but it won’t be easy. We did, after all, believe the Packers were always the best landing spot for Watt, and if former preacher Jack Easterby wasn’t running the Texans, Green Bay may have been able to trade for Watt last season, in the weeks leading up to the deadline.