Who Can an NFL Team Buy With an Extra $2 Million?

It’s February 24th, we’re in the middle of the NFL Combine watching hundreds of players run the 40 and so I’m sure most football fans are thinking more about who they want their favorite team to draft in April rather than who they want their team to sign in free agency this March. However, as we get closer to the start of the new League Year, we’re going to see more and more information come out about team finances, what each particular free agent is looking to make on his next contract and things of that nature. Before that all comes up, the first step should be to know just how much the salary cap is going to be set at for 2013. In 2011, the cap was approximately $120 million while 2012 saw a slight increase to about $120.6 million. Projections so far for the 2013 salary cap have set it at about $121 million. However, a Friday night tweet from Albert Breer of the NFL Network gave us a potentially higher 2013 cap total:

There’s no real indication one way or the other right now as to whether $123 million will be the actual total. Regardless, this got me thinking: if each NFL team had an extra $2 million to spend this year, who could they get with it? Some people might think, an extra $2 million on top of $121 million isn’t such a big deal. After all, it’s only about a 1.65% increase. When you look into it a little deeper though, that extra $2 million could certainly help a team acquire a quality player. To determine this, I looked at the top 10 ranked players at each position from 2012 (according to ProFootballFocus’ rankings) and checked to see how many of them had cap hits under $2 million for 2013. For any players that were ranked that high but are now free agents, I listed their 2012 cap hit. Of course, the majority of these players can’t simply be “bought” at these prices even if they were all on the open market. A lot of these players are/were on their rookie contracts and thus, haven’t had the chance to cash in yet. It’s still fun to take a look at just how many impact players could be acquired if each team had the extra $2 million in cap space:


Russell Wilson – Seattle Seahawks ($681,085)


Doug Martin – Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($1,542,620)

Danny Woodhead – UFA; with New England Patriots in 2012 ($899,788)

Alfred Morris – Washington Redskins ($510,775)




Matt Spaeth – Chicago Bears ($1,958,334)

Jimmy Graham – New Orleans Saints ($1,489,285)

Dwayne Allen – Indianapolis Colts ($702,826)


Jared Veldheer – Oakland Raiders ($1,546,750)


Alex Boone – San Francisco 49ers ($1,940,000)

Jon Asamoah – Kansas City Chiefs ($1,551,030)

Andy Levitre – UFA; with Buffalo Bills in 2012 ($965,000)


Ryan Wendell – New England Patriots ($1,015,000)

Brian De La Puente – RFA; with New Orleans Saints in 2012 ($540,000)


Marcel Reece – Oakland Raiders ($1,423,000)

Jerome Felton – UFA; with Minnesota Vikings in 2012 ($700,000)

James Casey – UFA; with Houston Texans in 2012 ($661,250)

Bruce Miller – San Francisco 49ers ($570,612)

Henry Hynoski – New York Giants ($560,000)

Rhett Ellison – Minnesota Vikings ($555,146)

Darrel Young  – RFA; with Washington Redskins in 2012 ($540,000)

Jed Collins – New Orleans Saints ($500,000)


Desmond Bryant –UFA; with Oakland Raiders in 2012 ($1,927,000)

Gino Atkins – Cincinnati Bengals ($1,541,114)

Jurrell Casey – Tennessee Titans ($734,359)

Henry Melton – UFA; with Chicago Bears in 2012 ($692,807)

Mike Martin – Tennessee Titans ($641,890)


Muhammad Wilkerson – New York Jets ($1,875,000)

Greg Hardy – Carolina Panthers ($1,378,946)

Lamarr Houston – Oakland Raiders  ($1,078,750)

Carlos Dunlap – Cincinnati Bengals ($937,000)


Dont’a Hightower – New England Patriots ($1,755,455)

Leroy Hill – UFA; with Seattle Seahawks in 2012 ($1,600,000)

Koa Misi – Miami Dolphins ($1,186,905)

Paul Kruger – UFA; with Baltimore Ravens in 2012 ($865,000)

Lavonte Davis – Tampa Bay Buccaneers ($789,030)

Justin Houston – Kansas City Chiefs ($747,812)

Victor Butler – UFA; with Dallas Cowboys in 2012 ($739,635)

Philip Wheeler – UFA; with Oakland Raiders in 2012 ($700,000)

Kaluka Maiava – UFA; with Cleveland Browns in 2012 ($694,125)

Albert McClellan – ERFA; with Baltimore Ravens in 2012 ($465,000)


Bobby Wagner – Seattle Seahawks ($979,045)

Sean Lee – Dallas Cowboys ($930,000)

Brandon Spikes – New England Patriots ($870,000)

Brad Jones – UFA; with Green Bay Packers in 2012 ($630,063)


Devin McCourty – New England Patriots ($1,845,000)

Casey Hayward – Green Bay Packers ($752,253)

Richard Sherman – Seattle Seahawks ($600,606)

Chris Harris – Denver Broncos ($555,668)


George Wilson – Tennessee Titans ($2,000,000)

Reshad Jones – Miami Dolphins ($1,363,075)

Rahim Moore – Denver Broncos ($1,213,125)

T.J. Ward – Cleveland Browns ($1,198,750)

Jairus Byrd – UFA; with Buffalo Bills in 2012 ($1,070,000)


Greg Zuerlein – St. Louis Rams ($512,205)

Blair Walsh – Minnesota Vikings ($509,483)

Justin Tucker – Baltimore Ravens ($480,000)


Brandon Fields – Miami Dolphins ($1,720,000)

Dave Zastudil – Arizona Cardinals ($1,475,000)

Brett Kern – Tennessee Titans ($1,353,375)

Pat McAfee – Indianapolis Colts ($1,322,500)

Donnie Jones – Houston Texans ($890,000)

Bryan Anger – Jacksonville Jaguars ($675,538)

There are a few things to note about this list. Although there are 10 OLB’s listed, the actual rankings divide them up into 4-3 OLB’s and 3-4 OLB’s (same with DE’s), I just combined them into one for this post to make it simpler. Additionally, some kickers were ranked in the top 10 based on their kickoff performances and not field goal performances; I omitted those players from this post. Finally, I’m unsure at this point what the exact cap hit is for George Wilson of the Tennessee Titans. Wilson was released by the Buffalo Bills on February 11th and signed with the Titans on February 22nd. Early reports of his new contract say it is for two years and $4 million, with an extra $1 million being available through incentives. Thus, I just averaged it out above and listed his 2013 cap hit at $2 million but will be certain to update this post when more details become available.

As you can see, if all of these players could simply be bought for their current and/or preceding season cap price, the potential $2 million extra in salary cap space for each team could be put to very good use. Whether or not the cap is actually set at $123 million, no one knows at this point. But now we know if it does go up that high, that’s plenty of extra money for NFL teams to use on quality players.