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Updated salary for the Rams and the rest of the league
Keep in mind that these numbers remain tentative -- and are changing on a daily basis. These "unofficial" figures are approximate as of February 28, 2006. Although these numbers have been updated to reflect the expansion of the cap, our last update on each team's salary information predates the CBA extension. That is to say that we have not accounted for many of the cuts and restructures that have taken place, since our last report on February 28. Why? Well, one reason is that the league has told teams that many of those moves have not been made official, as they were awaiting word on the CBA extension. As we receive more information, we will update the estimates accordingly.
Projected 2006 NFL Salary Cap Space for Each Team
Rank Team $ Under the Cap
Despite everything else that's gone wrong in the twin cities this year -- from ticket scalping to waving goodbye to Randy to taking trips on the love boat to watching an All Pro QB blow out his knee -- the Vikings continue to do a good job in managing their cap. With Tice gone, here's hoping that new head coach, Brad Childress, can convince ownership to spend some of that money on filling some holes -- and retaining some key free agents.
Green Bay Packers
The Packers are sure to endure one of the wildest off-seasons in the club's history. Will Brett Favre stay or will he go? There are a good 7 million reasons (or dollars) why he may want to come back. Even so, the Packers have plenty of cap room to bring him in some reinforcements along the OL and a quality (er, healthy) RB to boot. For a closer look at the Packers' cap situation, check out this site.
Considering the lack of star power in Cleveland it should come as no surprise that they are in excellent cap shape. With the well publicized front office discord that occurred at the conclusion of the season, it will be interesting to see if the team is willing to spend some money this off-season -- and if so, how will they spend it?
When you have as much cap space as the Cardinals do, you can afford to sign an oft-injured QB like Kurt Warner to a new $18 M deal. If the team can fortify the RB position -- and there should be plenty of free agents on the market to choose from -- they could have an explosive offense in 2006.
San Francisco *****
Remember when the Niners were in cap jail just a few years ago? Well, that is a thing of the past now thanks to cheap ownership. While the good news is that they won't be getting back into cap trouble, the bad news is that they are likely to be bogged down with a team loaded with inferior talent for years to come.
San Diego Chargers
Give A.J. Smith credit for doing a better job of managing the cap than his mentor, the late John Butler, did. By not slapping the franchise tag on Drew Brees, as they did last season, the Bolts are allowing Brees to become a free agent. Considering his shoulder injury in the 2005 season finale, that may not be such a bad idea. The question is whether or not Phil Rivers can take over the chores.
Chicago, too, is following the trend we've seen set by good young head coaches who have placed their stamp on their teams by putting together a quality, young roster. In case you haven't noticed, "young" also means "inexpensive".
This number includes the presence of one Terrell Owens, whom we all know will be releasied or traded in the coming weeks. Of course, with the unamortized portion of his original $10 M signing bonus escalating against the cap, that may not be a cap saver. For more on the Eagles' cap situation, check here.
Much like the Bengals, the Jaguars are a quality young team with plenty of cap room to continue to improve the team's base corps. For a more thorough run-down, check here.
The front office as led by Ozzie Newsome has been very prudent in managing the cap. The team had the cap room to franchise Jamal Lewis if they had so desired -- but opted to let him become a free agent instead. Despite rumors to the contrary, the other Lewis (Ray) won't be going anywhere.
St. Louis Rams
The Rams' new head coach, Scott Linehan, at least inherits a favorable salary cap situation heading into free agency. Considering all of the holes that the Rams have to fill on defense, that money may not go as far as you think.
If the Seahawks choose not to sign reigning MVP Shaun Alexander to a long term contract it won't be because they don't have the cap room to do it. Since they made a commitment not to franchise him again in 2006, they decided to slap the transition tag on Steve Hutchinson instead.
This number, includes Carson Palmer's contract extension, which paid out $15 M in guaranteed, up-front money and will pay him a base of $6.75 M in 2006. Of course, that deal was made before he injured his knee in the Wildcard round of the playoffs. Clearly the Bengals, who made the playoffs this year for the first time in 15 years, have done a nice job bringing along their young talent -- and they appear to be financially strong enough to contend for a number of years.
Supposedly new Offensive Coordinator, Mike Martz, is very high on Joey Harrington -- so it sounds like the team will be content to keep him on hand and live with the burden of his being the team's highest paid player.
This number includes the $8 M option that the Texans must exercise to keep David Carr in the fold. Maybe he should spend some of the leftover cap money on an offensive line that may be able to protect this investment. For more details check out this site.
New Orleans Saints
There are so many question marks surrounding the poor New Orleans Saints, that we do not wish to add to that any further here. At least new coach Sean Payton inherited a pretty good roster and a decent cap situation, which may even get better if the team elects to release Aaron Brooks, who is set to makeover $6M in base salary in 2006. The flip side of the coin is that the team has some quality free agents (such as Darren Howard and LeCharles Bentley) that they must try to re-sign.
After taking an immediate $5.9 M hit for franchising CB Nate Clements, the Bills turned around and freed up some cap space by cutting former #4 overall pick Mike Williams. The team doesn't have HAVE to make any other moves right away, but if they want to be players in free agency, they may have to cut Eric Moulds, who is reportedly unresponsive to doing anything to free up some portion of his $10.8 M cap number. Check out this excellent website here for more detail on the Bills' cap situation..
The Giants should have plenty of options when it comes to freeing up some cap space. For example, with so many big time skill position players, guess which player will have the highest base salary in 2006. Eli? Not even close. What about Tiki? Nope. Mike Strahan you ask? Wrong answer! Believe it or not, the NY Giant with the highest base salary heading into 2006 is Luke Petitgout!
New England Patriots
Releasing DB Duane Starks was probably just enough to ensure that the Pats are under the cap in time for March 3. The Patriots have done such a fantastic job picking late in the draft every year that they haven't had to rely on overpaying free agents. Bill Belichick also seems to have a nose for knowing when to release his high priced veterans at just the right time. For more info on the Pats' cap situation, check out this site.
The Cowboys learned the hard way how a once-proud championship team can crumble overnight due to the restrictions of the salary cap. They appear to be heading into 2006 in pretty good shape.
The Steelers cap condition is not as bad as it appears. For example, all indications are that Jerome Bettis will be calling it quits at the end of this season. The Bus is scheduled to make a little over $5.35 M in base salary alone in 2006. For more on the Steelers' cap situation check here.
Well, with questions about the CBA extension still up in the air, the Colts things don't look promising for the Colts' chances of bringing Edgerrin James back in 2006. The large contract they just signed Reggie Wayne to pretty much cemented that deal.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Bucs ended the regular season with the #1 defense in the NFL. Small wonder, then, that 6 of the 7 highest paid players on the team heading into 2006 play on the defensive side of the ball. That 7th player, Brian Griese, could very well become a cap casualty, considering the emergence of Chris Simms. Of course, the team must make a decision on Simms too, as he is set to become a restricted free agent in March.
Yes, the Dolphins are projected to be a bit over the cap heading into 2006. However, it's a far cry from last season, where they were so far over that they had to go on a frenzy cutting veteran players. A few prudent moves should easily get them where they need to be, although we don't expect them to be highly active in free agency. For a more precise breakdown, check here.
If you recall, two years ago, right after the Panthers' Super Bowl season, they found themselves in some cap trouble. They took their medicine then -- and suffered through a tough 2004 season. A year later, they've managed to catapult back into the playoffs and have their cap situation -- well, back in the doldroms again.
The Falcons have one of the best defensive front-sevens in the NFL -- and they pay dearly for it, as five of their top eight players are either linebacker or defensive linemen. In fact, their three highest paid players heading into 2006 are DL Patrick Kerney (almost $5 M base), LB Keith Brooking, and DL Roderick Coleman.
The J-E-Ts had a massive cutting spree where the following players were all shown the door: Donnie Abraham, Jason Fabini, Ty Law, Jay Fiedler, Barry Gardner, Lance Legree, Ray Mickens, Derek Pagel, Jerald Sowell, and Reggie Tongue. Wow! Yet, they are still in cap trouble. Should they find a trading partner for Franchise Player, John Abraham, that will free up over $8 M, and the team is still trying to convince CHad Pennington to take a paycut. For more particulars check here
The Broncos were built to win in 2005 -- and their precarious cap situation heading into next season isn't pretty. The good news is that there are just a handful of players on the roster, such as Champ Bailey and Trevor Pryce, who could help supply instant cap relief. John Lynch has already done his part.
The poor Titans had to do so much house cleaning last year that they were left with a severely undermanned squad in 2005. From the looks of things, there will be more cost cutting to do in 2006.
As usual the Redskins look to be one of the primary offenders heading into the new year. The team's tendency to rework contracts over and over again has made them a poster child for the "mortgage the future for today" mantra. A good case in point is Lavar Arrington. For more on the Redskins' cap troubles check this out.
Kansas City Chiefs
Poor Herm Edwards left an awful cap situation in New York for arguably an even worse one in KC. The team may find themselves in the situation of having to part with some important fixtures on their top-rated offensive line.
Didn't we go through this drill last year, when the Raiders were in such bad cap shape that they almost couldn't afford to cut anybody? Last year Rich Gannon came to the rescue by reworking his contract to get the team under the cap -- and then retiring. While that worked nicely then, it hurts now in the sense that the Raiders have seveal million dollars tied up in aguy who is now working as a sports announcer! Kerry Collins, who counts nearly $13 M against the cap, is a probable target. And expect the team to approach Randy Moss and his $10 M cap hit for some relief. The sad thing is that this number DOES include the release of Derrick Gibson, which looks to save over $9 M against the cap.