In our final look at the 2021 season I wanted to look at the free agent situations for teams in 2022. This can give us an idea of how invested teams might be in this season versus those with a bit more of a long term view of the future. To qualify for inclusion a player must be set to be an unrestricted free agent in 2022 and either have played at least 35% of the snaps last season, a contract APY over $3 million per year, or be a first round pick still on his rookie contract. This eliminates many of the lesser contributors.
I also looked at the projected cap space for next year for each team to see just how much cap that the team could use per player. Please note that the Eagles and Colts recently signed free agents whose cap numbers are not included in the calculations.
The top six teams in terms of players are the Texans, Buccaneers, Bears, Broncos, Colts and Raiders. The Broncos and bears skew the oldest in the group and may feature players who will not be back next year. The Broncos, Colts, and Raiders are in good cap shape to handle re-signing or replacing players while the Texans and Bucs will need to shift some money around.
The teams with the fewest number of free agents are the Bengals, Giants, Titans, Cowboys, Lions, and Rams. This is important for the Giants, Cowboys, and Rams who are all facing tight cap situations in 2022. Cincinnati and Detroit will have cap room to look outside the organization so those teams are less invested in their current setup.
Teams in bad shape for next year include the Packers and Saints (both with 9 free agents and projected to be $40 million over the cap), Vikings (10 FAs and $9.8M OTC), and Falcons (11 FAs and $1.3M in cap space). The 49ers are also in a bad position but the expected turnover at QB should move them to a better spot.
Here is the full list. You can sort the columns by clicking on the header.
|Team||Players||Avg. FA Age||Estimated Cap Space||Cap/FA|
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.