- Rob Demovsky, ESPN Staff Writer
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GREEN BAY, Wis. -- When free agency began a month ago, the Green Bay Packers had the sixth-most salary-cap space among all NFL teams.
A month later, even after re-signing several of their own free agents and adding Julius Peppers, their salary-cap situation remains healthy.
They are currently $15,636,891 under their adjusted salary cap for the 2014 season. That ranks as the seventh-most cap space available, according to the latest figures from ESPN Stats & Information contract data.
The Packers will need about $5 million in cap space for their rookie salaries.
At this time of year, only the top 51 contracts count toward the salary-cap.
With that in mind, here's a position-by-position look at the Packers' salary-cap situation under the top 51 rule. Let's start with the offense:
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 14.26
Total cap charge: $18,195,000
NFL average: $11,667,289
Biggest cap hit: Aaron Rodgers, $17.55 million
Biggest bargain: Scott Tolzien, $645,000
Outlook: The Packers are expected to re-sign Matt Flynn but that won't change their salary-cap significantly because it's likely to be a low-cost contract. Last year, Flynn returned in midseason for the veteran's minimum. Although Rodgers is under contract through 2019, his cap number does not increase significantly. At its highest, it is $21.1 million in the final year but does not exceed $20 million until 2017.
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 3.84
Total cap charge: $4,904,558
NFL average: $7,750,422
Biggest cap hit: James Starks, $1,370,313
Biggest bargain: Eddie Lacy, $771,003
Outlook: The situation at running back illustrates why it's so important to hit on draft picks. Lacy, a second-round pick last year, is the team's best running back and should be for the foreseeable future. His rookie contract keeps his cap figure low throughout. It doesn't exceed $1 million until its final year, 2016. That prevents the Packers from having to pay big money for a running back for a while. Other than Starks, fullback John Kuhn is the only other player at this position with a cap charge in excess of $1 million ($1.026 million).
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 6.45
Total cap charge: $8,230,391
NFL average: $13,535,504
Biggest cap hit: Jordy Nelson, $4,375,000
Biggest bargain: Randall Cobb, $1,021,179
Outlook: The majority of the remaining cap space likely will be spent on this position. Nelson and Cobb both are entering the final season of their current contracts and will be in line for extensions, perhaps as soon as the next few weeks or months. If Jarrett Boykin ends up being the No. 3 receiver and produces like he did last year, when he had 49 catches over the final 12 games, he will be a bargain with a cap number of just $570,000.
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 2.27
Total cap charge: $2,899,794
NFL average: $6,117,287
Biggest cap hit: Andrew Quarless, $1,250,000
Biggest bargain: Brandon Bostick, $495,000
Outlook: The Packers almost certainly aren't done adding players to this position. If they don't re-sign Jermichael Finley, who is awaiting medical clearance following last year's neck surgery, they likely will draft a tight end perhaps even in one of the early rounds. Quarless was a free agent but re-signed for the modest price of $3 million over two years. The Packers have high hopes for the athletic Bostick, who was originally an undrafted free agent.
Percentage of salary-cap space used: 16.62
Total cap charge: $21,202,414
NFL average: $21,430,114
Biggest cap hit: Josh Sitton, $6,400,000
Biggest bargain: David Bakhtiari, $608,850
Outlook: While the Packers guards, Sitton and T.J. Lang, are signed through 2016, right tackle Bryan Bulaga ($3,839,000) is entering the final year of his rookie deal. The Packers will have to decide whether to extend Bulaga, who missed all of last season because of a knee injury and the second half of 2012 because of a hip injury. If JC Tretter ends up being the starting center, the second-year former fourth-round pick will be a bargain ($598,777).