There are a number of NFL teams who are keeping their fingers crossed as the NFL looks over the potential numbers for the upcoming 2021 salary cap. News hit the wire recently with the league moving the salary cap floor, and this sparked speculation the salary cap could be in a better situation as most thought.
When news hit of the league wanting to double current TV deals, everyone thought the final number would be close to even with the $198 million dollar cap it was in 2020.
However, the latest report shows the chances of the cap being anywhere near $190 million might be optimistic, at best.
The final number for the salary cap, per the source, could land in the range of $182 million to $183 million.
The adjustment from $175 million resulted from aggressive lobbying by teams that would have had a hard time getting their 2021 cap number down to $175 million. Although plenty of teams will be doing plenty of work to clear plenty of cap space even if it lands in the range of $182 million, the source said that a $175 million cap would have sparked much more activity — and would have flooded the market with veteran players released by teams desperate to comply.
The teams that would have benefited from the chaos resulting from a $175 million cap aren’t thrilled by the fact that it will be higher. Most of those teams anticipated the financial losses early in the pandemic and planned accordingly for the impact on the 2021 cap. They believe that the teams that failed to properly plan shouldn’t be given an escape hatch.
At this point, knowing who has the most, and least, cap space is worth investigating. This is from Dave Schofield’s article outlining this exact topic, and it should be noted these numbers were compiled before the Colts trade with the Eagles for quarterback Carson Wentz.
1. Jacksonville Jaguars ($79,618,517)
What made the head coaching job in Jacksonville so desirable this offseason was the combination of the first overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft as well as plenty of room under the salary cap in order to try to build a team.
2. Indianapolis Colts ($78,497,543)
Quarterbacks Philip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett off the books for 2021, so the Colts have a lot of room to make maneuvers this offseason. They may need it in order to find another quarterback.
3. New York Jets ($75,532,774)
With the second overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft and money to spend, it’s no wonder several Steelers free agents have been rumored to land with the Jets.
4. New England Patriots ($68,667,937)
Navigating through the post-Tom Brady era, the Patriots have cleared significant cap room for 2021 as they only have three players currently on the roster with more than a $10 million cap hit for the season.
5. Cincinnati Bengals ($45,596,188)
Having a quarterback on a rookie deal can help almost any team build a roster around them through free agency. The Bengals have the opportunity to try to keep Joe Burrow from getting killed in the backfield, but will they make the moves?
28. Kansas City Chiefs ($-18,068,877)
Building a roster to go to back-to-back Super Bowls can come at a cost in the free agent era. Kansas City is going to have to make some changes in order to be cap compliant by March.
29. Atlanta Falcons ($-23,216,845)
As if going 4-12 in 2020 wasn’t bad enough, the Falcons are also in trouble when it comes to the salary cap as quarterback Matt Ryan’s over $40 million cap hit carries even more dead money if released.
30. Los Angeles Rams ($-25,230,627)
Who knows when the Los Angeles Rams will ever have another first round draft pick as they continually trade them away. Even with the addition of new quarterback Matthew Stafford, the Rams front office will have to work some magic in order to get cap compliant.
31. Philadelphia Eagles ($-41,510,111)
The Eagles are another team with only four wins in 2020 and a nightmare of a salary cap situation for 2021. The biggest issue comes down to quarterback Carson Wentz as they look to deal their former starter before $15 million of his base salary becomes fully guaranteed on March 20.
32. New Orleans Saints ($-65,576,484)
Even working a deal with Drew Brees to drop his salary to the league minimum so his retirement can wait until after June 1, the Saints are still in a nightmare of a situation. With 13 players with a salary cap hit of over $10 million each, the Saints will have to use a combination of roster cuts and restructures before March 17.
Now that we see where the rest of the NFL sits, the Steelers found themselves just outside of the bottom five in the league.
27. Pittsburgh Steelers ($-14,238,547)
Although they will need to be replaced, the retirements a Vance McDonald and Maurkice Pouncey did help the Steeler salary cap situation look not as bleak. If the Steelers can restructure Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt for a little more than $10 million, any change to the Ben Roethlisberger situation, whether he calls it quits or does an extension, should get the Steelers into a manageable position for 2021 before working out other deals and extensions across the roster.