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.
|Team||Effective Cap Space||F-S Draft Value||Free Agent Snaps||Avg. Rank|
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.