With the season down to the just four teams and most everyone else turning their attention towards the 2014 season I thought it would be good to look over some of the changes in store for teams next season by looking at their salary cap estimates and potential player turnover. The table at the bottom of the post lists each teams’ estimated 2014 salary cap space (note that it does include 2013 carryover but not 2014 escalator estimates), total number of unrestricted free agents, potential starters, and the names of those who got credit as a starter. Some of the starter names may be a bit off as I was basing it on depth charts at the end of the season which can skew the results with so many on IR, but it’s a reasonable estimate.
With futures contracts signed most teams are already up to 51 contracts. Only ten teams did not yet have 51 players signed for 2014 and of those ten, five were playing this weekend and normally most futures moves don’t occur until after a teams’ playoff run has stopped.
The average cap room per team seems to be about $16 million, but that will go likely go down once escalators are accrued and further adjustments made from 2013 before cutting players after the Super Bowl makes it rise again. The most cap room should belong to the Raiders, Jaguars, Browns, Colts, and Dolphins while the least will be the Cowboys, Steelers, Saints, and Lions.
The average number of free agents per team is 14.1. Six teams have less than 10 free agents. The team with the least is the Browns with 6, followed by the Bills (7), Eagles (8), and Cowboys, Rams, and Jaguars (all with 9). Of those teams only the Eagles made the playoffs and were above 0.500 so most of these teams will likely be cutting their way through contracts to try to improve in 2014.
On the other end of the spectrum are the Giants and Bears who lead the way with a whopping 23 free agents each. They will be followed by the Panthers and Steelers (both at 21) and the Redskins and Buccaneers (both at 19). Just one team was a playoff team from this group so most should welcome some form of change, though one would guess these teams will focus on bringing some players back to maintain continuity.
The average loss of starters (which includes punter, kicker, and long snapper) is just above 6, so about ¼ of the starting team. The Giants have the largest number with 15 players who were starters this season or were penciled in to be starters before injury. The Giants free agents are older in many cases and will likely not be asked back, but they would need to create cap space to keep all of these players. The Raiders have 10 players, primarily because their roster, like the Giants, was pieced together with a number of one year contracts as they purged the books of a huge number of bad contracts. The most interesting team might be the Dolphins who have 10 starters and this is a group of players that would likely be coveted around the NFL, unlike the other two teams that don’t have as many perceived impact free agents. Miami will either be undergoing a pretty big face lift or will see their cap space quickly shrink to maintain the same roster.
The Cowboys and Bengals have just two players to really be concerned about. For the Bengals that is DE Michael Johnson and swing tackle Anthony Collins. With over $20 million in cap space they could franchise one of the two players, though Johnson already played 2013 on the tag making it less likely to use on him. Dallas has OLB Anthony Spencer and DT Jason Hatcher. At $20 million plus over the salary cap the tag should not even be considered for Hatcher. Spencer has been tagged each of the last to seasons making his franchise tag number the same as a QB, so Dallas won’t even be tempted to do that this season.
If teams’ used all their cap room to simply re-sign their “starting free agents” the average pay is $2.596 million per player with a median of $1.85 million per player. The teams in a bind with the cap but still on the plus side would be the Giants, Cardinals, Chiefs, Bears, Rams, Seahawks, and Chargers. None of the teams could spend more than $1.4 million per starter and from the Bears down it would be less than $1 million. Teams like the Jaguars, Bengals, Browns, and Raiders could keep anyone they want and still have large amounts of money to spend.
You can view all the free agents around the NFL by selecting positions from the top menu or accessing team free agents from their team salary pages. All categories of the table can be sorted by clicking on the heading.
2014 Salary Cap and Free Agency Overview, January 13
|Team||Contracts (51 only)||Est. Cap|
(No esc. Estimates)
|Unrestricted Free Agents||Starting Players||Key Names|
De La Puente
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.