While we keep our own estimates of salary cap space on the website for the current and future seasons, the numbers are not official. We do our best to track the cap but with injury settlements, grievances, and all kinds of behind the scenes action we can’t be perfect (though our numbers are proving to be pretty good) . That said we were able to obtain the official cap numbers for the league via a source which are accurate through the transactions on September 6 and with teams considering adding veterans in week 2 this is a good time to get an idea on what teams can spend.
There are a few moves of note that were made over the weekend that will impact these numbers, namely the Dolphins extension of Koa Misi as well as the official release of a few players on Injured reserve by a number of teams. I believe the Panthers had two players released on Saturday that would certainly alter their numbers and teams began signing players again on Monday and suspensions were also lifted for some players. Many of the weekends moves(not the Misi extension) are already reflected in our cap estimates which makes it difficult to compare side by side, but most figures were within a few hundred thousand.
There are three teams with under $1 million in cap room- the Saints, Vikings, and Giants. The Giants are the most interesting of the group because they are in desperate need for a running back but only have $494,000 in cap room to spend. The players they are looking at would all be minimum salary benefit players (555K base cap hit prorated at 522K for 16 weeks) and they would replace someone earning either 480K or 405K so they have the cap room to execute the move but just barely. Any further injuries could significantly compromise the Giants salary cap to the point where they either need to play with 52 players or further restructure contracts for cap relief. Once S Will Hill and DT Markus Kuhn come off of the suspension list and PUP list respectively the Giants will gain some cap space as they will replace two players off the current active roster, however that process does not begin until week 5, so they need to be injury free the next two games.
Not surprisingly the Browns have the most cap room in the NFL at $24 million with the Bills and Dolphins both coming in just under $20 million. All told six teams have over $10 million left to spend while 20 teams have less than $5 million, which could make for a sluggish environment for in season contract extensions unless the player is already playing under a very high cap charge.
On a cash basis we were informed that eight teams do not currently meet the yearly team cash spending allotment. No penalties occur for that as you have a four year period to spend 89% of the total unadjusted cap, but those are teams that will need to be spenders in the future. Of those eight teams only four were significantly under (Raiders, Jaguars, Redskins, and Panthers). Leaguewide spending is about 99% of the cap. The NFL has to spend 95%, again over a 4 year period, so they should be comfortably ahead in 2013.
Here are the official cap figures as of September 6: