NFL Sets Salary Cap at $255.4M

The NFL has officially set the salary cap for 2024 at $255.4M, a massive $30.6 million increase from 2023. The increase is nearly the size of the original salary cap set in 1994 of $34.6 million. While this was in line with our original estimates our revisions based on opinions from various people around the NFL had our cap calculations based on a $242.5 million cap so every team will have a big change on their salary cap pages due to this difference.

I would not expect the changes from this to occur every year. The reason our original estimate was so high was simply because the cap for the last few years has been artificially held down by Covid paybacks. Had Covid not occurred the 2023 salary cap likely would have been around $233 million, so this represents more of a $23M increase over the true baseline. While that is still gigantic it is not the same as a $30 million increase.

This increase, which should represent the influx of new television money, is, on a percentage basis, very similar to how the NFL cap increased the last time the new television contracts hit the salary cap and then the cap grew at a steady pace until Covid hit. So if we are guessing on the future I would say a $23-$26M increase in cap will become the new norm.

As far as what this does around the NFL? Not much. With the exception of the teams in really bad salary cap shape (i.e. Bills, Saints) who get a reprieve the relative buying power of each team remains the same. Tenders will increase over expectations as will proven performance escalators and rookie contracts.

The interesting thing will be how much does this change the asking prices of players in free agency. In the past the increase in the cap has not had that kind of spike in wages, at least immediately. Most positions at the top do not increase at a significantly greater rate than the salary cap (normally those on the lower end see big jumps and then it catches up to the top), but we have also never seen a jump like this.

This is one of the earliest times I can recall the cap being announced. Usually it comes at the tail end of the combine or sometime later. My guess would be because the number was going to be so large the league wanted to get ahead of this before the combine so contract discussions can focus on using the right numbers rather than working with lower figures and having it blow up in everyone’s face a week later and rendering a lot of the work pointless.

This does make for an interesting free agency period. Usually players sign during the open negotiating window and free agency is done before it officially even begins but if teams are not willing to push the top of the market it may be a year where the agents and teams clash more over value. This also should make the franchise players really dig in on holding firm on signing an extension since there is little benefit to signing now unless the team is going to really make a great offer. So it might make for a crazy couple of weeks,