In April, we discussed the folly of a so-called "hometown discount" with respect to the Green Bay Packers' negotiations with quarterback Aaron Rodgers. My point was that the Packers wouldn't change their operating policies whether Rodgers signed a below- or above-market deal, and I think the events of this week have borne out that theory.
The release of linebacker Desmond Bishop separated the Packers from a luxury that, quite frankly, they could easily have afforded. Even with Bishop on the roster, the Packers had $13.1 million in available cap space for 2013. After releasing him, they have $16.3 million and only one draft choice -- first-rounder Datone Jones -- left to sign.
I don't necessarily think that Rodgers' contract extension was a hometown discount, not after it added $110 million to his compensation. But the unique situation -- Rodgers had two years remaining on his current deal -- allowed the Packers to spread that money over a seven-year period and keep his annual cap figures quite manageable. (We discussed those terms in detail in this post.)
The Packers could have capitalized on the certainty provided by both Rodgers and linebacker Clay Matthews to shift philosophical gears. They could have kept Bishop on the roster despite the presence of two other players with starting-level salaries (Brad Jones and A.J. Hawk), a move that would have provided expensive but impressive depth at a position that for various reasons has been fluid for years.
That is not how the Packers operate, however, and nothing about the value of Rodgers' deal would have changed that. No one who has watched them in the Ted Thompson era would expect them to employ a highly-paid veteran backup. If they have an injury or poor performance at inside linebacker this season, the Packers will turn to a young player or moderately-paid veteran -- possibly Terrell Manning -- for help. After all, that's how Bishop, Jones, D.J. Smith and others found their way to the field in recent years.
Some of you are asking what the Packers will do with the $16.3 million in cap space they have remaining in 2013. Some of that total will be used to sign Datone Jones, but the NFL also allows cap surplus to be pushed into the following year as long as proper notification is given to the league and NFL Players Association. That space could be targeted for nose tackle B.J. Raji, cornerback Sam Shields, tight end Jermichael Finley or perhaps another player who emerges this season.
It won't, however, fund a luxury item -- whether or not the Packers can afford it.