News around the NFL has been plentiful on Tuesday, March 9. With the impending deadline of 4 PM EST for teams to use the franchise were transition tag, it was speculated the league could extend the time period as teams await a definitive salary cap for the 2021 season.
Instead, the NFL has pushed forward with its standard timeline as teams have been tagging players, or informing them they will not be tagged, throughout the day. The Steelers even got in on this action as they reportedly informed Bud Dupree he will not be tagged for a second straight season.
So if teams are using the franchise tag, do they know more about the salary cap then they are letting on? Knowing of the $180 million floor, teams could just be conducting business assuming this is the number. While this could be the case, it could also be teams know even more about the salary cap than has been reported.
For example, when Dak Prescott signed his gigantic new contract on Monday, it was reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter that the deal may have been an indication that owner Jerry Jones knows more about the impending TV deal, and the effect on the salary cap, than what has been reported.
One league source on the Dak Prescott deal: "You know what this is? This is Jerry Jones tipping off the extraordinary TV deal that is coming."— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 9, 2021
While this could indicate the 2021 salary cap may not be as low as $180 million, the Prescott deal is more likely about the future of the salary cap in coming years. As usual, Prescott has a low first year cap number compared to the rest of his deal. With a cap hit of $22.2 million in 2021, Prescott’s salary cap hit rises $11 million per season the next two years.
So what can these various activities tell us about the status of the salary cap for 2021? While the Prescott deal does look encouraging to the future, what about teams using the franchise tag?
While there has been numerous reports of players getting tagged on Tuesday, there were also additional reports of players believed to be possibly be tagged by their teams actually being informed they would not be hit with the franchise or transition tag. Although some teams are able to use the franchise tag in a lower the salary cap year, if 2021 was not going to see the reduction the NFL has been bracing for I believe more teams would have pulled the trigger on using the franchise tag. The one exception was the New Orleans Saints. Currently in the worst salary cap situation in the NFL and still used the franchise tag on safety Marcus Williams. Exactly how the Saints deal with the projected $11 million salary will be interesting to see if the salary cap comes in at $180 million.
So what does not moving the deadline for the franchise tag ultimately say? It means the answer is likely on the horizon as to the exact salary cap of 2021. Looking deeper into things to see if there’s an indication as to whether the cap may be higher than expected, it’s really hard to determine anything definitive.
Unfortunately, we are still in a holding pattern when it comes to the exact amount for the 2021 salary cap even with the new league year just over a week away.