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Packers release Rick Wagner and Christian Kirksey, clear cap space leading into free agency

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Like a number of clubs, the Green Bay Packers are currently tasked with trying to get under what is likely to be a decreased salary cap heading into the 2021 offseason. The NFL announced this week that the minimum the cap will be next year is $180 million, which is quite a bit less than the $198 million from this past season. Given that dip, teams will need to take a hard look at their roster and cut ties with some cap casualties. 

That has already started to happen throughout the league and Green Bay is the latest, announcing the release of linebacker Christian Kirksey and offensive tackle Rick Wagner on Friday. 

Both spent just one season with the club prior to their release, signing with the Packers last offseason. Wagner, who signed a two-year, $11 million contract, played in all 16 games (nine starts) for Green Bay in 2020 and was part of a unit that was tied for No. 2 in the NFL in fewest sacks allowed (21). Meanwhile, Kirksey, who inked a two-year, $13 million deal in 2020, totaled 77 tackles and two sacks during his 11 games. 

As we noted above, this is largely a string of moves by the Packers that centers around clearing up precious salary cap space. By moving on from both, Green Bay clears roughly $10 million in salary cap space while sitting with just $3.75 million in dead cap. This is merely the latest salary cap-motivated move by the Packers, who also recently restructured star left tackle David Bakhtiari’s contract to clear up around $8.5 million in space. 

From here, Kirksey and Wagner will head into the free agent pool and look for a more long-term destination, unlike what Green Bay proved to be over the last calendar year.




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