NFC North Round-Up: The Salary Cap Situations for All 4 Teams

Free agency officially gets underway on March 15th, which is suddenly just a few days away. Because of that, now seems like a good time to give an update on where each of the NFC North teams stand in terms of their salary cap situations. Here is a look at what things look like financial-wise across the division.

Chicago Can Do Whatever They Want

Dec 4, 2022; Chicago, Illinois, USA; Chicago Bears general manager Ryan Poles looks on before the game against the Green Bay Packers at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Bartel-USA TODAY Sports

Unsurprisingly, the Chicago Bears remain at the top of the NFL in terms of cap space. If there is any team that has the capabilities to go get a number of the top names on the open market, it is Chicago. They have a ridiculous $94.6 million in cap space due to some of the moves made during last offseason and the 2022 regular season to strip their defense of a number of their larger veteran contracts.

However, the question remains, how many of these free agents will actually want to go to Chicago? The Bears went 3-14 in 2022, and they look like a team that remains at least a season away from true contention in the NFL.

Could Detroit Land a Big Name?

Aug 20, 2022; Indianapolis, Indiana, USA; Detroit Lions quarterback David Blough (10) drops back to pass in the first quarter against the Indianapolis Colts at Lucas Oil Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

The Detroit Lions sneakily find themselves in a strong position to make additions to a roster that was already one of the biggest surprises of the 2022 season. They currently have the ninth-most cap space in the NFL, sitting at $18.5 million.

This isn’t necessarily a huge amount of space, but if they opted to restructure the contracts of QB Jared Goff, LT Taylor Decker, and C Frank Ragnow, they can create around $28 million more in cap space. This would boost them up to about $46.5 million in cap space, which would be the third-most in the league right now. Plenty of space to land top free agents, particularly on the defensive side of the ball.

Everything in Green Bay Depends on Rodgers

Nov 27, 2022; Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA; Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) during warmups against the Philadelphia Eagles at Lincoln Financial Field. Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

The Packers have done plenty of work to get back to salary cap compliance this offseason, and they currently sit right around $16.4 million under the cap right now. This is certainly enough to sign draft picks and make a few minor moves, but likely not enough to land multiple major contributors.

That could change with a trade of Aaron Rodgers, who has a $31.6 million cap hit in 2023. The New York Jets are the favorites to land the veteran QB, and the move would give Green Bay some additional cap relief and potentially a couple quality draft picks as well.

Vikings Slowly Chipping Away

NFL: Combine
Feb 28, 2023; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Minnesota Vikings general manager Kwesi Adofo Mensah during the NFL combine at the Indiana Convention Center. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

The Vikings entered the offseason as one of the more cap-strapped teams in the NFL, but they’ve certainly taken their time on the road towards being cap compliant. After releasing LB Eric Kendricks on Monday, a move that saved $9.5 million against the cap, Minnesota is now sitting around $15 million over the salary cap heading into the final weekend before free agency.

Now, the Vikings certainly have ways to free up more cap space between further cuts and contract restructures (keep an eye on RT Brian O’Neill). However, will whatever moves they pull off be enough to land a top-end free agent? Only time will tell.

Josh Frey is a Class of 2020 graduate of The College of Idaho with a bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing. When he’s not writing about the NFL, Josh enjoys running, gaming, or rooting for the Milwaukee Brewers and Bucks. Check out his Twitter account: @Freyed_Chicken.