The salary cap is a mysterious beast for many. It has developed the reputation of being something of a myth—easily manipulated even when the odds are seemingly insurmountable (just ask Mickey Loomis). It is not, however, a myth. It’s a fascinating foray into fine print, economics, and spending strategies. And, like in just about every other facet of running a team, you’ll see a slew of approaches to attacking contracts, the salary cap, cash commitments, and more. So, with training camp upon us, I took a deep dive into the cap situations and strategies of all 32 teams across the league and found one factoid of each that may only be interesting to me.
Fun Fact: WR DeAndre Hopkins can achieve a rare player opt-out clause after the 2023 season if he averages 1,200 receiving yards per season OR 95 receptions per season over the next three years.
Fun Fact: After restructuring QB Matt Ryan’s contract this offseason, the veteran quarterback is currently scheduled to own a $48.66M cap hit for 2022, more than $11M higher than 2021’s largest cap hit (Aaron Rodgers). That number would be 3% more of the total cap if the 2022 salary cap reaches the NFL/NFLPA agreed ceiling of $209M than Rodgers’ 2021 commitments.
Fun Fact: The Bills play a ton of 10-personnel and it shows. No team is spending less cash this season on tight ends and running backs combined than Buffalo’s $10.7M in 2021.
Fun Fact: Once No. 2 overall pick Zach Wilson signs his contract, the Ravens will pay less money to quarterbacks in 2021 ($3.4M) than any other team in football—and less than all but two groups of specialists (K/P/LS) in all of football (San Francisco 49ers and New York Jets).
Fun Fact: The Panthers boast the NFL’s least expensive defense in 2021 with only a little more than $65M in cap commitments on that side of the football.
Fun Fact: The Bengals have nearly half the cap commitment to linebackers in 2021 (under $6.5M) than they do at any other position on the roster excluding specialists.
Fun Fact: The Browns boast the NFL’s most expensive offense in 2021 with a little more than $141.7M in cap commitments on that side of the ball—and that comes with a quarterback (Baker Mayfield) on a rookie contract!
Fun Fact: The Bears have $51M in cash spending currently committed to their linebackers (including EDGEs like Khalil Mack) in 2022. That’s more than they’re currently scheduled to pay out in 2022 to QBs, RBs/FBs, WRs, TEs, OL, and DBs combined.
Fun Fact: The Cowboys boast three of the top 15 overall 2021 salary cap hits for this upcoming season: DE DeMarcus Lawrence ($25M), QB Dak Prescott ($22.2M), and WR Amari Cooper ($22M). Only one other team (Atlanta) has more than one.
Fun Fact: Only two position groups in the entire league are scheduled to be paid more than $70M in 2021. Dak Prescott and the Dallas Cowboys’ QB room and the Denver Broncos’ secondary ($71.3M in cash).
Fun Fact: The Lions have nearly $50M in cash spending currently committed to their offensive line in 2022. That’s more cash currently scheduled to be paid out than any other offensive unit in all of football.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
Fun Fact: No team rewards players for offseason workouts more than Green Bay. Three of the top four highest workout bonuses in all of football this season belong to Packers: OLB Za’Darius Smith ($750k), OT David Bakhtiari ($700k), and IDL Kenny Clark ($600k).
Fun Fact: Houston added 39 players (and counting!) in free agency this offseason, 12 more than the next highest team and 13 times more than the league’s least active team in free agency, the Los Angeles Rams.
Fun Fact: The Colts are the NFL’s only team to carry less than $1M in dead cap, with just $400k of 2021 cap committed to talent no longer on the roster.
KANSAS CITY CHIEFS
Fun Fact: Remember when Patrick Mahomes signed a 10-year, $450M contract extension? His cap hit this year is 181st highest in the NFL ($7.433M).
LAS VEGAS RAIDERS
Fun Fact: The Raiders are invested in the trenches. They’re in the bottom five of the NFL in cash commitments in 2021 to both wide receivers (third least) and defensive backs (fourth least).
LOS ANGELES CHARGERS
Fun Fact: The Chargers are currently responsible for a little more than $2M in dead cap for 2021 (Casey Hayward). That’s equal to approximately 1/3rd of the team’s cap commitments to their entire safety room in 2021, including Derwin James.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
Fun Fact: Approximately 50% of Los Angeles’ 2021 cap space this season ($91.5M) is invested into four (five?) players and several former players/contracts:
- Matthew Stafford ($20M)
- Aaron Donald ($14.392M)
- Jalen Ramsey ($9.7M)
- Rob Havenstein ($8.33M)
- Jared Goff’s dead cap ($24.7M)
- Todd Gurley’s dead cap ($8.4M)
- Leonard Floyd’s dead cap from his previous 2020 contract ($3.33M)
- Michael Brockers’ dead cap ($2.67M)
Fun Fact: The Jaguars lead the NFL in positional spending at the linebacker position with more than $30M in cap commitments there in 2021.
Fun Fact: Nearly half of the Dolphins’ current cap commitments on the offensive side of the football ($46.29M of $98.7M total; 47%) are due to wide receivers. No team is due more against the cap to receivers in 2021 as of right now.
Fun Fact: Minnesota’s cap spending is impacted heavily by the presence of Kirk Cousins. The Vikings’ cap commitments on offense are seventh lowest in the NFL and they’re in the bottom five in cap commitments to the OL, WRs, and TEs. They’re third highest in quarterback cap commitments at more than $33M in 2021 (40% of their offensive commitments).
NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS
Fun Fact: New England granted $168.782M in full guarantees this year in free agency, more cash than the Pittsburgh Steelers are currently scheduled to spend on their entire team in 2021.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
Fun Fact: The Saints cleared $111M in 2021 salary cap space between Drew Brees’ retirement, cuts, trades, and contract restructures.
NEW YORK GIANTS
Fun Fact: The Giants have just one player (CB James Bradberry) who is responsible for more than 6% of their 2021 cap as things currently stand.
NEW YORK JETS
Fun Fact: The only active Jet to be within the top-20 highest-paid players (in cash) over the history of the franchise is LB C.J. Mosley (12th in cash paid with $29.15M). He’s played two games for the Jets.
Fun Fact: Philadelphia’s $33.82M dead cap charge for QB Carson Wentz is the highest percentage of cap lost for a single player in NFL history (18.79%). The $33.82M dead cap charge by itself would be good for the sixth-highest total in the league compared to the other 31 franchises collectively.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Fun Fact: The 49ers have reset three positional markets in the last 12 months: tight end (George Kittle, $15M AAV), offensive tackle (Trent Williams, $23.01M AAV), and linebacker (Fred Warner, $19M AAV).
Fun Fact: No one respects the third phase of the game more than Seattle. They’ll pay $11.8M in cash to specialists in 2021, the most in the league by $2.5M this year.
Fun Fact: No team in football is currently scheduled to spend less cash than Pittsburgh’s $168.5M in 2021.
TAMPA BAY BUCCANEERS
Fun Fact: No team in football is currently scheduled to spend more cash than Tampa Bay’s $276.724M in 2021.
Fun Fact: Tennessee’s salary cap commitments in the front seven ($35.56M) are less than what the Ravens are committed to for just interior defensive linemen.
WASHINGTON FOOTBALL TEAM
Fun Fact: Washington’s fearsome defensive front is one of the best in football, but it will be owed the sixth-lowest amount of cash this season of any defensive line in the NFL.
- Dec 08, 2022
- Dec 08, 2022