Ranking NFL Offseason Resources for 2022

With the NFL season now officially over it is time to turn our attention toward the offseason as every team in the NFL will look to improve over last year’s performance and be in the position the Rams are today. To get an idea of how where teams stand in the offseason I wanted to look at teams in three different categories- effective salary cap space (this is cap space with draft picks factored in), draft capital using the Fitzgerald-Spielberger point chart, and potential snaps lost to free agency.  Each team was ranked one to 32 in each category.

32. Buccaneers- Avg Rank 25

The Buccaneers come in dead last with just $89K in projected cap room, 4,102 draft points and 39% of their snaps currently slated for free agency. This doesn’t include the retirement of Tom Brady which will skyrocket the amount of snaps they need to recover next year while not making a big impact on their cap room to do it. This was the team who was most “all in” on the 2021 season.

31. Cowboys- Avg. Rank 25

While Dallas ties the Buccaneers with an average rank of 25 I would consider them in slightly better shape only because they structured Dak Prescott’s contract for a restructure which is not factored in yet. Once they pull that trigger their cap room will be similar to the Bucs. Right now they rank 30th in cap room, 19th in draft points, and 26th in free agent snaps. Not an ideal position for the disappointing Cowboys.

30. Bears- Avg. Rank 24.3

The Bears prior front office did not leave Ryan Poles in a great position in his first year on the job. While they rank 11th in cap room they are 31st in potential snaps lost to free agency and have almost no draft capital this season. It is a rough position for a team with a 2nd year QB as you should be gearing up to fill the team with talent for the next three years rather than trying to skirt around a messy salary cap.

29. Rams- Avg. Rank 23.3

The Super Bowl champions rank 28th in cap space as we project them to have some negative adjustments due to incentives based on playoff performance. Not surprisingly they rank dead last in draft capital. On the bright side they are 10th in free agent snaps so if they can convince everyone to come back next season they should return with a relatively intact championship team.

28. Chiefs- Avg. Rank 23.3

This is across the board bottom third rankings for the Chiefs. They stand 20th in cap space and draft capital and 30th in possible snaps lost with over 40% of their snaps possibly going. They have triggers to pull with the Mahomes contract to help with their cap space and some players that will be cut but they are probably in need of a bit of a facelift next season to increase their odds of getting back to the Super Bowl.

27. Panthers- Avg Rank 23.0

The team ranks 15th in cap room but just 30th in draft capital following their ill advised trade for Sam Darnold. They have a number of free agents this year as well. Without a viable QB on the roster it is very hard to get excited about the Panthers future in both the short and long term right now. It is going to be a very difficult path for them and they have to hit a home run at every spot to make it work.

26. Cardinals- Avg. Rank 21.7

Arizona went all in this year trying to win with Kyler Murray nearing the end of his rookie contract. It worked early but things fell apart late as they stumbled into the playoffs and had an early exit. You could have made an argument that they need changes at the top. They rank 22nd in cap space, 23rd in draft capital and 20th in free agent snaps. Its one of the oldest teams in the NFL and they need to a new approach next year.

25. Titans- Avg. Rank 21.7

The good thing for the Titans is they rank 15th in potential snaps lost so they have a decent enough chance to come back with a quality roster. The problem is the quality roster seems to have hit a ceiling and may not break through it without some changes. They rank just 24th and 26th in cap room and draft capital. They remind me a bit of the Vikings a few years ago and probably need to consider remaking the team rather than doubling down again on the roster.

24. Falcons- Avg. Rank 21.3

The Falcons are still climbing out of a salary cap hole that will wind up hurting the Falcons for two years. They have no cap room, an old expensive QB, and a bunch of free agents. Their saving grace is that they have some top draft picks to rebuild with. From a long term perspective the Falcons 2021 and 2022 run are historically bad in terms of roster flexibility due to cap problems they created by tripling down on a roster whose best days were behind them.

23. 49ers- Avg. Rank 21.3

With limited cap room and draft capital the 49ers will need to get creative to improve the team next season.  Now they will pick up $25 million with the release or trade of Jimmy Garoppolo but that only puts them in the middle of the pack. Their biggest strength is that they have a relatively intact roster with their hopes lying with Trey Lance giving them more upside on offense.

22. Seahawks- Avg. Rank 20.3

The Jamal Adams trade killed the Seahawks who rank just 29th in draft capital despite finishing the year 7-10. Seattle is 7th in cap space but also has the 8th most snaps to replace  this year. They cant really sit on the cap room and will need to be more aggressive than usual in free agency if they want to take one more run at this with Russell Wilson as QB. A team that might have massive turnover in 2023 if things don’t go right this offseason.

21. Colts- Avg. Rank 20.0

If they had a do-over opportunity there is no way the Colts would make the Carson Wentz trade again. They could have used the same draft capital to draft a cheap rookie QB rather than a somewhat expensive QB who looks to be done. Indy is basically in QB hell at this point. With the 5th most amount of cap room they may have to explore trades again for the QB position. They rank near the bottom of the league in draft capital and free agent snaps so this will be a tough one to improve on next year.

20. Packers- Avg. Rank 20

The salary cap is a disaster with the team $54M over the salary cap next year. They are about average in cap room and snaps lost to free agency though that includes Davante Adams who will be ridiculously expensive to keep. They will need Aaron Rodgers to make a decision quickly so they can get their cap in order to tag Adams.  The right move is to turn things over to Jordan Love since they have seemingly hit their ceiling but the emotional move is to convince Rodgers to return for the next few years.

19. Texans- Avg. Rank 19.3

Houston has over 45% of their snaps up in free agency as they simply pieced their team together last year to get through the season. They need to find a suitor for Deshaun Watson who will look past his off the field issues and pay a fortune for him. Trading Watson would clear up their cap for the future and explode their draft capital for the next few seasons. If they are forced to hold onto him this year it is hard to see them getting much better.

18. Vikings- Avg. Rank 19.3

Minnesota needs to rebuild their defense and either get much more creative on offense or find a new QB. They rank just 27th in cap room next year which may force them to defer costs for Kirk Cousins or to extend him outright unless they are willing to eat some money and pull the trigger on a trade. They may also look to see if a market can develop for Danielle Hunter.

17. Giants- Avg. Rank 18.0

The Giants rank 2nd in draft capital which is the nice parting gift left by Dave Gettleman to Joe Schoen. Unfortunately he left a mess everywhere else. The team was one of the worst in the NFL last year but ranks 29th in cap space while also having the 9th most snaps to replace in free agency. They need a massive draft haul and should trade down at least one of their top picks even if they don’t get a top return.

16. Saints- Avg. Rank 16.0

An absolute salary cap disaster but they have a reasonable draft haul this year and have the 3rd most amount of snaps returning to the team next year. It’s that snap ranking which is why making an internal hire at coach made sense. They will do their usual deferral of the cap charges to function but replacing Sean Payton is a tough task. That is the biggest loss of the year and he has hidden their cap issues with his coaching.

16. Steelers- Avg. Rank 15.0

With the 9th most cap room in the NFL one would think that they will be very active in looking to trade for one of the veteran QB’s if the asking price is not too high. They rank 22nd in draft capital and 17th in potential snaps lost, but one of those players (Ben Roethlisberger) was going to have to be replaced regardless of contract status. An intriguing team if they can find a QB.

14. Ravens- Avg. Rank 15.7

The team ranks 19th in cap room but will be able to increase that number when and if they extend Lamar Jackson. He is an interesting player who probably has more risks than others on a big money extension. They rank 7th in draft capital. With one of the better front offices in the NFL they stand a good chance of making the most of their cap situation and replacing their free agents with good rookies.

13. Bengals- Avg. Rank 15.3

The big thing for the Bengals is that they rank 4th in the NFL in effective cap space and their core is intact. With a relatively average amount of snaps to replace the Bengals should go for broke and use their money to fix their offensive line. If they do not do that this year I would expect them to get cold feet with spending in 2023 as well since they will begin preparing for a Burrow extension. Next year is the best year to go for it.

12. Patriots- Avg. Rank 15.0

New England’s strength will be in how much they believe in their current roster. They are the 7th lowest in terms of snaps potentially lost to free agency. They rank 17th in cap room and 21st in draft capital. They went on their big spending spree last season so I would expect a more controlled approach this year with a focus on maximizing the impact of their rookie class.

11. Raiders- Avg Rank 13.7

Nothing stands out here at all. 13th in cap room. 17th in draft capital. 11th least snaps to replace. It is an overall solid position for a team that squeaked into the playoffs but has to determine if they want to move forward with Derek Carr for the next five years or just the next season or two.

10. Bills- Avg. Rank 13.0

Considering how good the Bills are this is pretty scary if you are a team in the AFC East. The team ranks 23rd in cap room, 14th in draft capital, and 2nd best in free agent losses. Basically they can come back with next years team while adding what should be a solid group of rookies. Their cap is concerning as they project over for next season, but like with Dallas and Kansas City they have built in flexibility with the QB contract.

9. Chargers- Avg. Rank 11.7

It is hard to believe that the Chargers again found a way to not make the playoffs but here we are. The Chargers have the 2nd most cap room in the NFL to improve their team and are 11th in draft capital. They are around 22nd in free agent snaps which is a concern but with the strong draft position and cap space there is no reason for them to not have a star studded roster around Justin Herbert next year.

8. Commanders- Avg. Rank 10.7

I don’t get as excited about Washington as the main reason behind this ranking is low expected turnover, but it is not as if they were a good team with a great roster. They are 10th in cap room and average in draft capital. They will be able to pick and choose where they use their cap space which is a positive but don’t stand out enough in that category to get overly excited just yet. We will have to see who gets cut and who stays to see how much more they can improve.

7. Lions- Avg. Rank 10.3

The good news for the Lions is their draft capital which is 6th. They still have cap issues though where they rank average. They do not have many players they have to replace due to free agency but they have many they need to replace because the team is bad They should look to see if they can trade off some veterans and really fire up for 2023.

6.  Broncos- Avg. Rank 9.7

8th in cap room and 5th in draft capital is a very string position for a team that was competitive at times last year. In desperate need of a QB the question will be if they go for broke and try to acquire an Aaron Rodgers or continue to explore the low end of the QB market next year. It is a tough division but they have the resources to turn this around next year.

5. Dolphins- Avg. Rank 9.0

Miami has to be kicking themselves for last years trade up. Even if they are happy with their receiver they only rank 18th in draft capital when they should have been much stronger. The team has a ton of cap room, the most in the NFL, to go shopping with and the 8th least snaps to replace so they have all kinds of flexibility. Expectations will be high for them next year given Tua entering his third year to go along with a new coach and presumably many new toys on the team.

4. Browns- Avg. Rank 8.7

The Browns were a disappointment last year but are set up nicely to improve this season. They rank 9th in the NFL in draft capital, 12th in cap room, and 5th in snaps that need to be replaced. While Baker Mayfield is a huge question mark on the field they have the resources to build a terrific team around him and them hope that he can do enough to win next year.

3. Jaguars- Avg. Rank 6.3

With the 3rd most cap room, 3rd highest draft total and potential of Trevor Lawrence this was an attractive job despite the terrible history in Jacksonville. This team spends every year so expect them to be ultra aggressive in free agency. The downside here is they do rank middle of the pack in snaps to replace and a new coach may want to see even more roster turnover as the team was built for Urban Meyer last season.

2. Eagles- Avg. Rank 6.3

Philadelphia did a great job of manipulating the draft where they rank 4th in draft capital despite being a playoff team this season. While they still have a ways to go to be a legit contender they have the least amount of snaps they must replace and are amazingly middle of the pack in cap space, though they do not have the flexibility of other teams as they have already pulled many of their salary cap levers with Fletcher Cox being the player to watch.

1. Jets- Avg. Rank 3.7

The Jets are finally number one at something! The Jets rank 1st in the NFL in draft capital thanks to some great maneuvering by their front office which allowed them to maximize the value of their veteran players. They also rank 6th in cap room to add to the team in free agency. They don’t have many players to replace this year either so they can just grab whoever they need to upgrade. With the Bengals quick turnaround the Jets will be under a ton of pressure next year to compete rather than trying to sell a 3 to 5 year plan to the fanbase.

Here is each teams position for next season as of February 14, 2022.

TeamEffective Cap SpaceF-S Draft ValueFree Agent SnapsAvg. Rank

2022 NFL Salary Cap Expected to Reach $208.2 Million

NFL Network is reporting that the NFL salary cap is expected to reach $208.2 million in 2022, confirming that the salary cap will reach the max threshold agreed to by the NFL and NFLPA back in May. The report is not very surprising and this is the estimate that we have been using for cap calculations since last May as well. Once it was clear that Covid would have minimal impact on gameday operations it would be difficult for the sides to not reach the max number given the steady year over year revenue growth since 2013.

One thing I am noticing since this report is a rash of comments about how everything is back to normal now. That really is not the case. While the rise in the salary cap looks massive since the cap was a Covid influenced $182.5 million this year the fact is the cap this year would have been expected to be between $208 and $210 million. In 2022 the number would have been between $218 and $221 million, so realistically we are still about $10 million off from where the cap should be.

Just as the decrease in salary cap space this year barely impacted contract extensions or free agent signings I would not expect this increase to impact the numbers in 2022 either. While there is some correlation between the salary cap and contract values the teams themselves operated under the same assumptions that the salary cap was steadily rising. While teams did have to perform “salary cap gymnastics” at times there was minimal impact on the market, especially at the top which is what most people pay attention to when it comes to contracts.

The real tangible increase in the salary cap that should create a meaningful jump in contract value will come in 2023. The new TV deals kick in that season and that should move the cap significantly higher and to the point where a contract shift should occur. How high it will be is anyone’s guess. The players are still paying back Covid losses and it is possible some payback still will exist in 2023. It is also possible that the NFLPA has to account for some benefit borrowing that could also impact the cap.

Whether or not 2023 will be the big year for contract growth will depend on what we see with the cap that year. If it reaches between $228 and $230 million it will likely still be considered flat for contract purposes. Anything above that number will show more growth over the old CBA rates and thus impact contracts. It may not be until 2024 that we actually see how the salary cap and NFL revenues settle for the balance of the CBA.

Teams have already begun dumping millions of salary cap dollars into 2023 by frontloading prorated bonuses into 2021 and 2022 in lieu of base salaries or by using void years for the 2023 season so they have clearly planned for 2023 to be “the year” for the cap to really return. It would not be surprising to me if, in 2022, we see a large number of extensions as teams try to get contracts in ahead of a meaningful jump that should impact the markets for players. Teams can still claim uncertainty about the 2023 cap probably through the first few weeks of the 2022 regular season.

Cap space will still be at a premium next season. We project the average cap room per club to be just $29.4 million with a median of $31.5 million. That includes carryover from 2021. Once rosters are brought to 51 players those numbers will plummet to $17.6 and $19.4 million respectively. We project the Dolphins to be at the top of the NFL with $77 million followed by the Chargers at $72 million, and Jaguars at $70.2 million.

Here is a snapshot of our estimates for next season. The cap space is just based on players under contract for next year while the effective space takes into account a full 51 man roster.

TeamCap SpaceEffective Cap Space

Houston Texans Trade Mark Ingram to New Orleans Saints

Wednesday afternoon multiple reports came out that Houston and New Orleans had agreed to terms on a trade that would send veteran runningback Mark Ingram from Houston to his old stomping grounds New Orleans. Houston had a glut of runningback depth with five backs on the active roster prior to this trade. New Orleans was short handed on runningback depth. Essentially this could be classified as a “win win” for both sides.

The trade terms have been revealed today with details as follows: Houston received a 2024 7th round pick. Essentially a contract dump to avoid paying the salary if Ingram was released.

Houston signed Mark Ingram early in the free agency process since Ingram was a street free agent. Head Coach David Culley was very familiar with Ingram’s work and character after spending time together in Baltimore. By most accounts this signing was as much about veteran leadership, culture, and a locker room rebuild as it was for performance. Teams generally do not sign 31 year runningbacks for their potential performance.

To facilitate the trade and to assist New Orleans with their tight cap situation, Ingram signed a 1 year extension including a $250,000 signing bonus (to be paid by Houston). New Orleans will now only have to pay 11 weeks of pro-rated $1.075 million base salary for 2021. Ingram is set to earn a $300,000 roster bonus in 2022 along with a non-guaranteed salary and $500,000 in per game bonuses. Details of the contract restructure provided by Field Yates of ESPN.

The trade was surprising for some, including myself, given how much Culley’s valued Ingram’s leadership and presence on and off the field. Suspect that New Orleans reached out the Houston on Ingram’s availability, and as with Caserio on this rebuild almost every player on the roster is available via trade.

Some have speculated that Caserio had alternative motives in signing such a large veteran free agent group as opposed to signing a large undrafted free agent class. The thought is that Caserio may try to flip some of the players for draft picks. Caserio has shown, early in his tenure, that he is willing to spend cash for draft picks (see Randall Cobb, Shaq Lawson, Bradley Roby).

Update (as of 3:30 pm CST) the New Orleans Saints tweeted a video of Ingram’s explanation of the trade. It is interesting to note that Houston approached Ingram and gave him the opportunity to make the choice. This was not a team directed move to just move a player for draft assets.

Some Thoughts on the Saints Trade for Bradley Roby

I thought there was a fascinating trade announced today between the Texans and the Saints for cornerback Bradley Roby. Roby is currently suspended for the first week of the season but will be good to go for the remainder of the year. The impact on the Saints isn’t really what I find fascinating but how the two sides will work this out from a salary cap perspective which I would think may be a bit tricky.

Per our estimates the Saints currently have about $4 million in salary cap space. Roby will cost, after the suspension is served, $9.266 million. That number is obviously more than the Saints have. Normally this is not an issue as a team simply just converts the salary of another player to a bonus to create cap room, except the Saints don’t have anyone left to do this with.

Of the 62 players on the Saints roster as of this morning, 56 of them have a Paragraph 5 salary of no more than $1.19 million. They have five players with salaries between $1.7 and $2.4 million. If they reworked every one of those deals they would open up in the ballpark of $600,000 per player. Finally there is Marcus Williams at over $10 million but he is a franchise player and I do not believe the league would allow void years on that contract since the deadline for a multiyear contract passed in July. They also have two players they could potentially settle with on an injury and clear around $800,000 in cap space.

Unless I am wrong in my interpretation on how the void contracts work with a franchise player (and it is always possible I could be) the Saints have pretty much run out of ways to create cap room for this season after maxing out so many contract restructures. If they redid every deal and released those two players they could get to maybe $7.8 million, which is not enough to absorb the Roby contract.

An easy solution is to get the Texans to eat most of the contract. How much of the contract would they have to eat?  My assumption would be at least $7 million. That would lower his salary cap charge to around $2.5 million on the season. That would leave the Saints with about $1.5 million in working cap space if no other deals were touched and then touching those contracts if the need arises to open up a few hundred thousand at a time.

That is a big bill for the Texans who just spent $7 million on a player they wound up trading for a bag of peanuts to the Jets. If I were the Saints I would argue that the cost should be the same here but Houston has restructured the Shaq Lawson contract long before the trade in what was simply a bad decision. This time they control their fate at least a little bit.

At the very least the Saints would need enough cap room to execute the trade so that they could restructure Roby after the trade. That would likely mean that the bare minimum would be for the Texans to eat around $4.5 million.

What if the Texans simply refuse to pick up any of the contract?  I think there might be a way around that using a bit of a contract trick to lower the cap number without the Texans having to pay a dime. The way the NFL works is that if you sign a player to a contract that has a signing bonus attached that bonus is the responsibility of the team that trades him (with the exception of franchise type player trades).

A workaround might be to use a roster bonus that is not earned by Roby until after the trade. So for example lets say the trade is executed next Tuesday. Roby would have a roster bonus that is paid on something like the following Monday. Any roster bonus in a contract after the season is treated the same as a signing bonus for salary cap purposes.

So lets say the Saints are willing to take on the whole contract what they can do is have the Texans restructure the contract to include a roster bonus of $8,427,352 and a base salary of $1.075 million, which would be prorated for 17 weeks at $1,015,278 while adding three void years to the contract. The resulting contract would work as follows:

YearBase SalaryProratedCap

Unlike with the signing bonus this contract would be treated different in a trade. Because the roster bonus is the responsibility of the Saints rather than the Texans, Houston would not pay a dime and would only take on an additional $1.6855 million in cap charges this year. They would receive a credit on their salary cap in 2022 for the charge because the bonus was not paid by Houston.

The Saints would take on the contract as is, with a cap charge of just $2.7 million, and have enough space under their current salary cap situation to trade for him without the Texans picking up a dime on the contract. I’m not sure if this will happen but I do think it would be a creative way to work the trade if the Texans are hung up on price and the Saints have no alternative ways to create cap space.

I’m not sure what the rules are with trading suspended players (I would think you can’t trade until they are no longer suspended, but that is also just a guess- edit this guess is indeed wrong as they can trade a suspended player) but there is no real reason for either side to hurry with the trade since he can not play this week anyway. It also probably makes the restructure of the contract cleaner since he would have already lost his week of pay.

We should get an idea of how it will play out in the coming days but this could be a pretty unique situation by the time the trade is executed.

Salary Cap Space Update- September 7

Rather than putting a number of posts about restructures, I thought it would be good to just take a quick look at where teams stand with the salary cap as of Monday morning. Team’s have until Thursday to be under the salary cap for the year though almost everyone is now under the cap.

Last week we had about 7 teams that were over the salary cap and most made moves yesterday to get under. Field Yates of ESPN reported that, as expected, Dak Prescott, Julio Jones, Jimmy Graham and Carl Nassib have all restructured their contracts to create cap room for their respective teams. The first three were logical moves and the Nassib one just simply the Raiders needing to find money wherever they could.

Prescott’s restructure creates $5 million in cap room for the Cowboys which should move them to about $4M under when the season begins. There were other candidates but Prescott is clearly going to be in Dallas for a long time while there are probably more questions on Amari Cooper and Demarcus Lawrence.

Jones’ restructure opens up $11.2 million in cap room for the Titans who are now about $5.5 million under. Jones had almost no dead money in his contract after this season so this was an easy decision and easy contract to work with compared to other deals.

Graham’s contract restructure created $4.7 million in cap room for Chicago to get them to $3.7 million under. His contract expires after this season so basically they just borrowed from 2022 when their cap situation is a bit better to move under the cap.

Nassib’s contract was restructured for the second time this year. The Raiders in the last few days have restructured the contracts of Nassib, Yannick Ngakoue, and Nick Kwiatkoski to get under the cap. Currently we have them $750,000 under, but more likely they are $2.25 million under. They had recently signed KJ Wright to a contract with $1.75 million in likely incentives but I would guess they have a condition attached so they do not count on the cap.

The team that has the most work to do is the Giants who are around $6 million over the cap. They will likely need to look at some combination of restructuring the contracts of Jabrill Peppers, Adoree Jackson, Sterling Shepard, Evan Engram, and James Bradberry to get under.

The Rams are listed as $1 million over but they redid Johnny Hekker’s contract already which should move them under. The Falcons probably still need to make a move as they are right around the salary cap limit. The other teams to keep an eye on are the Bills, Bucs, Dolphins and Colts.

Here is a snapshot of the cap space in the NFL right now. Remember that these are fluid and will quickly change as the season approaches.

TeamCap Space

NFL Salary Cap Update for September 1

Yesterday was the official final cutdown date for teams in the NFL and we have processed most, but not all of the transactions. In addition many people have noticed some wild swings in our salary cap space estimates for most teams and that has sparked some confusion so I wanted to clear up where the cap space stands on OTC and how it differs from the NFL.

During the NFL offseason the league only accounts for 51 players base salaries in the calculation of the salary cap for each team. When the regular season begins that changes to the full NFL roster. What that means is that we go from 51 players to generally somewhere around 75 players which includes your 53 man roster, 16 practice squad players, and however many players you have on injured reserve, NFI, suspension, or PUP.

To try to put each team’s salary cap space in a better perspective we always jump the gun with a switch at OTC by moving the clock forward right after final cuts. This way you can easily see which teams have room for new contracts, which teams probably have to do contract modifications, and so on. However this will put some teams in a position of looking as if they are over the cap which would be against the rules of the NFL. In actuality they have until next Thursday to get get under the cap since the league is still using the top 51 rule until the regular season begins.

So when you see a team like the Giants at $4.5 million over the cap all it means is they have some work to do. The Giants for example have a huge list of players on IR (they have 12 and the next closest is 8). They will likely cut a good chunk of those players with injury settlements dropping their cap charges from say $440,000 to somewhere around $50,000. They may also need to restructure a contract as well. As long as that cap number changes by next week it is all within the rules.

Hopefully we will get all caught up on releases by tonight. We still have some dead money to accrue, reserve list modifications, and in the cases of some teams more terminated contracts. So bear with us during this week which is hectic with all the comings and goings in the league, but hopefully this clears up why the cap space changed so much between last night and this morning.

Here is a snapshot of cap space for the teams that I think we are closer to finished with all of the terminations.

TeamCap Space

Broncos, Bears, and Vikings Set to Benefit the Most from the June 1 Rule

Happy June 1 day! Today marks the final day that any trades or releases result in all future prorated bonus money accelerates into 2021. Starting on June 2 any trade or release will now see only this years prorated money (and any future guarantees) stay on the teams 2021 salary cap and all future money will now go to the 2022 salary cap. This should open the door to more trades in the NFL but for now let us take a look at the teams who will be set to open up cap room now that the rules have changed.

Broncos- $10 million

The divorce between tackle Ja’Wuan James and the Broncos was very public as James got caught in the crosshairs between the NFL and the NFLPA’s fight over workouts. The Broncos have about $20 million in cap room while carrying James’ $13 million cap charge and would have saved $4 million with a standard release. I believe the reason they used the June 1 in this case is because of the potential grievance liability that will come from his injury guarantees. James had $15 million in injury protection remaining in his contract and should file a grievance to try to recover it. Even if it is a longshot it will still count for $6 million in the short term which would have actually cut down on the Broncos cap room, so using the June 1 keeps their cap sky high in to keep open the possibility of a trade. James will now count for $3 million on the cap plus whatever grievance if filed, in 2021 with a $6 million charge in 2022.

Bears- $9 million

The Bears released Charles Leno in early May and used the June 1 designation to help deal with salary cap issues. The Bears were carrying Leno at $11.3 million for the last month and that number will now cut down to $2.3 million, a savings of $9 million. Had the Bears used a traditional release the savings would have been around $6 million. The Bears only have about $200K in cap room so they desperately needed this $9 million to get Justin Fields under contract.  Leno will count for $2.8 million in dead money in 2022.  

Vikings- $7.9 million

In one of the least publicized moves of the offseason, the Vikings used the June 1 on tight end Kyle Rudolph back in March. In all the years of tracking contracts on OTC no June 1 release has gotten me more emails and tweets than this one with everyone wanting to know why Rudolph is still listed on the Vikings. That should stop now that he will see his cap number drop from $9.3875 million to $1.45 million. This added cap room should give the Vikings more than enough breathing room they need for the season as they already had around $6.5 million in space with their first round pick under contract. Could they use the added room to try to move someone this year?  I guess it is possible but I would expect them to just carry it over to 2022. Rudolph will count for $2.9 million in 2022.

Eagles- $4 million

The Eagles made use of the June 1 on two players- Alshon Jeffery and Malik Jackson. This was arguably the most creative use of the June 1 in the history of the NFL with the Eagles renegotiating the contracts of the players at the end of the 2020 season in order to lower their cap numbers by millions of dollars so they could carry them at a low number from March to June. Without that renegotiation they never could have used the June 1 and been cap compliant. The Eagles have just $3.7 million in cap room right now and this will get them to $7.7 million. Jackson will cost $3.611 million on the Eagles 2021 cap while Jeffery will count for $5.59 million.  The numbers in 2022 are huge- Jackson at $9.03 million and Jeffery at $5.4 million. The Eagles 2022 dead cap of $14.4 million from these two is more than 20 teams currently have in 2021.

Panthers- $3.5 million

Tre Boston was informed of his release early in the winter but the Panthers waited until the start of the new league year so they could designate him a June 1 cut. Boston has been sitting on the Panthers cap at $6.216 million and that will reduce to $2.666 million giving Carolina an additional $3.55 million in cap room. The Panthers offseason has been a bit of a salary cap roller coaster and in hindsight the use of the June 1 here was not really needed, but this gave them some added flexibility if things had gone different during free agency. Boston will also count for $2.66 million on the Panthers 2022 salary cap

Saints- $1.1 million

Drew Brees retired early this offseason but nothing was made official due to the salary cap consequences. Instead, as expected, the Saints reworked Brees’ contract down to lowest possible number it could be so they could carry him on the active roster through the offseason. When they process the retirement he will count for $11.15 million on the cap this year and $11.5 million next year. The Saints cap is still a mess and this won’t help them much but every little bit helps. Look for them to restructure more contracts in the summer, either via extension or kicking the can on another player or two.

49ers- $1.1 million

This was essentially the same situation as Brees with Weston Richburg being the retired player in this case. Richburg reworked his deal early in the offseason to provide the 49ers with the most operating room in free agency. He will count for $3.5 million on the cap in 2021 once the retirement is made official.

As a side note technically none of these will impact the cap until June 2 but I decided to process the releases early to save some time. The retirements will not be reflected until they are made official with the NFL.