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.
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.