Team-by-Team Salary Cap Report
January 23, 2009
** All 32 teams ranked by current salary cap space against the 2009 limit of $123 million per club. They are ranked from most cap room (Tampa) to least (NY Jets). These figures are not exact, but after weeks of exhaustive research at the NFLPA website, NFLMedia, ESPN, FOX, & local newspaper sites, they are pretty close. Detailed free agency & contract info included.
by John Miller
1. Tampa Bay -- $42m under New GM Mark Dominik steps into the fallout from one of the worst collapses in history. The Bucs were 9-3 and cruising. They finished 9-7 and out of the playoffs, losing in Week 17 to ex-coach Jon Grudens ex-team, the Oakland Raiders. Every team since 1993 that started 9-3 had made the playoffs until now. Time to get younger. DE Kevin Carter, LB Derrick Brooks, and CB Ronde Barber are turning 36, 36, and 34. Can they lock up free-agent WR Antonio Bryant now that his mentor Gruden was canned? Hell test the market. QBs Jeff Garcia, Brian Griese, and Luke McCown will all be gone. Classic rebuilding mode here.
2. Arizona -- $41m under Charley Casserly quoted this astounding figure on CBS last week. Its kind of deceiving because few teams have as many big names to re-sign. They only have 37 players under contract this year. QB Kurt Warner, DE Bert Berry, DE Antonio Smith and LB Karlos Dansby are free agents. Would Warner stay on a discount so he can stay with Larry Fitzgerald? Obviously WR Anquan Boldin wants more money. WR Steve Breaston warrants an extension. They can cut RB Edgerrin James and DE Chike Okeafor and free up $7m. Overall theres no reason why Arizona cant sign studs like DE Terrell Suggs (who went to ASU), C/G Jason Brown (another stud Raven), and maybe RB Darren Sproles (change-up for Hightower?).
3. Denver -- $34m under New coach Josh McDaniels has needs everywhere, primarily on defense. This unit could see a massive slash-fest that frees up another $15m or so, giving them near $50m to spend! S Marlon McCree, S Marquand Manuel, LB Nate Webster, LB Boss Bailey, DE Ebenezer Ekuban, & DT Dewayne Robertson are just 6 of maybe 10-12 defense cap-cuts. McDaniels wont leave offense off his wish list since hes holding a platinum credit card. Free-agent RB Derrick Ward is a perfect fit. They have 2 great WRs in Brandon Marshall & Eddie Royal, but what about adding WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh? McDaniels witnessed T.J. burning New England for 26 catches, 340 yards and 1 TD in the last 3 meetings.
4. Kansas City -- $33m under The youngest club in the league last year, and the stingiest too. Astonishingly, the Kansas City Chiefs elected to not carry forward almost $22m of available cap room to 2009, preferring to leave their money on the table in 2008, never to be used again, writes Michael Lombardi of the National Football Post. New GM Scott Pioli has complete control of operations & personnel and only answers to owner Clark Hunt. You can bet Pioli has the green light to spend and this cap money plus the 3rd overall pick attracted him to the job. The real question is: What does he do with Larry Johnson?
5. Tennessee -- $31m under DT Albert Haynesworth is this years big prize. They cant franchise him again because of incentive clauses. Insiders say Haynesworth likes Nashville and might stay on a hometown discount but thats unlikely. 2-3 other teams will offer tongue-dropping cash and he will leave. QB Vince Youngs cap figure is a manageable $4.6m but it jumps to $14.2m in 2010. If they cut Young its a $7.7m cap hit. Owner Bud Adams wont give up on the flaky kid. Overall the Titans are not big shoppers so dont look for major splashes. Note: C Kevin Mawae is 38. You know the Titans would love to pry free-agent C Jeff Saturday away from Indy.
6. Miami -- $28m under Free-agent DE Julius Peppers is linked to the Dolphins in trade rumors. Miami has the cash and also an extra 2nd-rounder (from sending DE Jason Taylor to the Skins) so its possible. However, theyd have to part with their 1st rounder - 26th overall - this year too. Miami has some free agents to re-sign like S Yeremiah Bell, LB Channing Crowder, & CB Andre Goodman. OT Vernon Carey is also a free agent but hell be offered more money by someone else, if only for his versatility. S Renaldo Hill will probably walk too.
7. Buffalo -- $27m under They can free up at least $10m more by slicing off some defensive fat, guys like S Ko Simpson, DE Chris Kelsay, DT John McCargo, etc. The Bills have a lot of UFAs to consider re-signing, however: C/G Duke Preston, CB Jabari Greer, LB Angelo Crowell, G Jason Whittle, and T Kirk Chambers. RB Fred Jackson is an exclusive rights free agent, which means they can keep him affordably though he deserves a nice extension right now. They still gotta hammer out a mega-deal with OT Jason Peters.
8. Detroit -- $26m under New coach Jim Schwartz is no dummy. The Lions have nowhere to go but up from 0-16. They have two 1st rounders, two 3rd rounders, and 5 of the top-82 picks overall. Owner William Clay Ford will spend money. And they could have way more than $26m in cap room after trimming off CB Leigh Bodden, QB Daunte Culpepper, S Dwight Smith, TE Dan Campbell & G Edwin Mulitalo. This roster is in for a major overhaul and could be loaded with stud rookies and free agents.
9. San Francisco -- $26m under In 2007 and 2008 the ***** were top-3 in cap room, so theyre still hanging in there nicely. They can cut QB Alex Smith and OT Jonas Jennings and free up $7.3 million more. Smith is coming off the busted shoulder and simply isnt a great player. Jennings has missed all or parts of 47 games the last 4 years. DE Justin Smiths big contract last year has a bloated cap figure for 2009 - $10.5 million but theyll let it ride. Ninersnation.com is clamoring for the team to land free-agent DE Terrell Suggs at all costs.
10. Houston -- $25m under Cutting S Will Demps, RB Ahman Green, LB Morlon Greenwood and DE Anthony Weaver could add more space to this figure. Defense and offensive line are always the big need, despite using six 1st-round picks on these two areas since 2004. The fans want free-agent DE Julius Peppers but he wants to be in a 3-4 scheme so that rules Houston out. Plus they dont want to give up the 15th pick. DE Chris Canty (Cowboys) and LB Bart Scott (Ravens) are great fits. S Brian Dawkins could be a sneaky grab who lends valuable leadership to a young defense.
11. Philadelphia -- $25m under The big question is what do they do with Donovan McNabb? He counts $10.3 million on the cap. If they trade him it would free up $9.2 million in cap space (with only $1.1m left on the books). S Brian Dawkins, OT Tra Thomas, OT Jon Runyan, RB Correll Buckhalter and S Sean Considine are free agents. They can cut TE L.J. Smith and CB Lito Sheppard to free up $5m. Bust WR Reggie Brown is staying because they take a $3m hit if they release him.
12. Cincinnati -- $22m under Owner Mike Brown must be overcome with grief. QB Carson Palmer, WR Chad Johnson, and OT Levi Jones were all in the top-6 highest paid at their positions and the Bengals were last in scoring, yards, and yards per play. They franchised RT Stacey Andrews last season after failing to sign him to a long-term deal for the 2nd straight year. This year they might franchise WR T.J. Houshmandzadeh at $7.85m guaranteed for 1 year. Overall none of this cap stuff matters to Cincy if Carson Palmers elbow is trashed. Stay tuned.
13. New England -- $21m under This figure doesnt count the (gulp) $14.8m one-year tender for Matt Cassel. If they tag Cassel theyll have $28 million cap dollars tied up in 2 quarterbacks. However, they can make it work. DE Richard Seymour, OT Matt Light, WR Randy Moss, LB Adalius Thomas, and DE Jarvis Green have a combined $65m in cap charges if 3 or 4 of those guys restructure it frees up $15m easily.
14. Minnesota -- $20m under Last year the Vikings gave up a 1st & two 3rd-rounders for DE Jared Allen, then tossed him a whopping $31m in guaranteed money. Allen had 14.5 sacks, 3 forced fumbles, and a league-high 52 QB hurries. Cha-ching! This kind of aggressive management approach should set an example for flaccid clubs like Cincinnati and St. Louis. Go get your guy. Sign a true game-changer. This year the Vikings are rumored to be after QBs Matt Cassel or Donovan McNabb.
15. Atlanta -- $20m under Some old reliables must go, including former superstar LB Keith Brooking. Hes scheduled to count $7m but his contract is voidable. Brookings fate was sealed when he got beat by Cardinals TE Stephen Spach in the wild-card game. GM Thomas Dimitroff isnt afraid to make tough decisions he cut franchise legends Alge Crumpler & Warrick Dunn last year. Fan favorite LB Michael Boley might be cut too. When they release Michael Vick hell still eat up $7.1m in cap space.
16. Pittsburgh -- $19m under Supposedly a frugal club, the Steelers spent $128m in payroll last year, 6th highest in football. The product bears out that spending. And when they did Roethlisbergers extension last March they pro-rated his $25m signing bonus over the 8 years of the deal, and his 2009 salary is only $4.75m, so his 2009 cap hit is a manageable $7.9m. The big question is will they re-sign G Chris Kemoeatu, T Max Starks, and T Marvel Smith, all free agents?
17. Baltimore -- $19m under CBs Samari Rolle & Chris McAlister count a combined $17m. Pay cuts or both hit the road. The Ravens are a relatively low payroll club whos squeezed the most they could out of what they have. 3 of the top-6 defensive free agents on the 2009 market are Ravens: DE Terrell Suggs, LB Bart Scott, and LB Ray Lewis. They cant keep all three. Maybe only one. TE Todd Heap already took a pay cut once so they might just cut him. It would free up $3.6m. The big rumor is a straight-up trade: Terrell Suggs for Anquan Boldin. Wow!
18. Chicago -- $19m under Key defensive studs like CB Nathan Vasher, CB Charles Tillman, and LB Brian Urlacher count a combined $20m. Re-do their deals. Yikes, theres $5.4m in dead money for Cedric Benson, Muhsin Muhammad, and Brian Griese. They can free up $8m by cutting OT John Tait, FB Jason McKie, DE Adewale Ogunleye, DT Dusty Dvoracek, and WR Marty Booker. The Bears are rumored to be after safety O.J. Atogwe in free agency (if he isnt franchised by St. Louis) and DE Terrell Suggs.
19. Green Bay -- $18m under Getting rid of Brett Favre and his $12 million salary for a 3rd-round pick turned out to be the right move. Then they signed Aaron Rodgers to a cap-friendly 6-year, $65 million deal on Oct. 31 shoveling $12 million onto the 2008 cap before the league deadline. If they waited another 24 hours the entire pay increase would have to be treated as a signing bonus -- and pro-rated over the length of the contract for cap purposes. Now they have cap room to extend WR Greg Jennings, S Nick Collins, and S Atari Bigby.
20. Cleveland -- $17m under The Browns will probably cut Jamal Lewis. Theyd be saving a cash payout of $6.4m in salary & roster bonus. RT Kevin Shaffer is a bust, but he only counts $4.4m on the cap so he might stay. WR Donte Stallworth has a roster bonus of $5m due hell fly out to fleece his 5th team in March. The Browns can free up $12m in cap room by cutting QB Derek Anderson, DE Shaun Smith, LB Willie McGinest, LB Andra Davis, DT Robaire Smith, and G Ryan Tucker.
21. Jacksonville -- $16m under Owner Wayne Weaver got burned last year, giving out $23m in guaranteed dollars to WR Jerry Porter and CB Drayton Florence. He spent $122m in total payroll, 8th most in the league. Theyll let OT Khalif Barnes walk in free agency. S Gerald Sensabaugh, LB Mike Peterson, and C Brad Mester might walk too. Only Meester seems to be on their list of priorities. WR Reggie Williams contract is voidable. Hes gone.
22. San Diego -- $14m under Time for semi-rebuilding on both sides of the ball. Not a complete housecleaning, but GM A.J. Smith knows he has to shake it up. But first he has to extend Philip Rivers, Shawne Merriman and Vincent Jackson, all going into the last year of their deals. As crazy as it seems, ending it with LaDainian Tomlinson makes sense. Hes 30 and his body is breaking down. Dumping him off frees up $6.725m in cap space. They also want to re-sign Darren Sproles, who was their MVP in December & January.
23. New York Giants -- $11m under The first order of business is to lock up Brandon Jacobs, but can (will) they? Hell want to test the open market and plenty of teams could offer more money. Rumor has it the Giants want free-agent DT Albert Haynesworth (imagine that defensive line with Osi Umenyiora returning from injury) but theyre actually set with DTs Fred Robbins & Barry Cofield. If Plaxico Burress is cut before June 1st he only counts $4.4m in dead money.
24. Dallas -- $10m under Owner Jerry Jones will always empty his pockets and spend cash-over-cap so it doesnt really matter how much room Dallas has. The first order of business is Terrell Owens. The reports that his release/trade would cause a massive cap charge are true but the net hit is only $680,000. In other words, he already counts $8.99 million if stays. He counts $9.67m if he leaves. They have until June 1st when his $3.1m roster bonus is due. All-World LB DeMarcus Ware is entering a contract year and deserves to be one of the 5 highest-paid defenders in the NFL. Overall, every offensive starter is signed for at least 2 more years. Cutting QB Brad Johnson, G Montrae Holland, and S Roy Williams frees up $6m.
25. Carolina -- $9m under Jake Delhomme counts $11m on the cap. Cut him and get $6m in net cap savings. Or accept his apology for the 6 turnovers vs. Arizona, re-do his deal and free up a few million. Ask CB Ken Lucas ($6m cap charge) to restructure too. Cut WR D.J. Hackett, RB Nick Goings, LB Landon Johnson, OG Keydrick Vincent, and CB Ricardo Colclough to free up $8m. Carolina could franchise-tag DE Julius Peppers and trade him for a 1st round pick (they currently dont have a 1st rounder in this draft). We hear Cleveland and Miami are the most interested.
26. Seattle -- $9m under The Seahawks can free up $14m in cap space by cutting QB Matt Hasselbeck, OG Mike Wahle, WR Bobby Engram, RB Maurice Morris, and WR Koren Robinson. Robinson might actually stay if his knee gets right. He's been the key blocker on three of our four longest plays from scrimmage this year, and the receiver in our longest (90 yarder), says Seahawks beat blogger Chris Sullivan. LB LeRoy Hill will likely be franchise-tagged at $8 million for one year. LT Walter Jones and WR Deion Branch count $17m combined by themselves. Pay cuts, fellas.
27. St. Louis -- $8m under They could be releasing the last 3 players from their Super Bowl winning team in 1999 WR Torry Holt, DE Leonard Little, and OT Orlando Pace. It would free up $14m and give them a chance to sign a couple free agents. WR Drew Bennett (coming off a broken foot) might not be back, though cutting him causes a $2.5m cap hit. Rams HC Steve Spagnuolo is rumored to be interested in free-agent DT Albert Haynesworth and DE Terrell Suggs. Who isnt?
28. Oakland -- $4m under Ouch, CB DeAngelo Hall counts $5m in dead money after being cut. To make it worse he suddenly played like a Pro Bowler again in Washington. WR Javon Walker has a $5m roster bonus due next month. Hell actually collect it because of an injury guarantee and his cap hit is $14m if they cut him. Stupid contracts, Al. OT Robert Gallery will have to rework his deal to shave off his $9.2m cap charge.
29. Indianapolis -- $2m over Peyton Manning counts a massive $21m by himself, the 2nd biggest cap charge in NFL history behind Steve McNairs $23m in 2006. The Titans ended up locking McNair out of team headquarters that summer. Indy wont do anything quite that drastic, but they do need to discuss money with Peyton. They can free up $6m by cutting Marvin Harrison. Pro Bowl center Jeff Saturday, CB Kelvin Hayden and RB Dominic Rhodes are free agents. They could franchise-tag Saturday at $8.6m on the 2009 cap. Not too bad. Lots of work to do here, though.
30. Washington -- $3m over Nothing new for owner Daniel Snyder, hes from the Jerry Jones Cash-Over-Cap School. Boy, theyve given out some stupid contracts over the years. Heck, WR Brandon Lloyd still counts $5.5m in dead money from 2007, plus they gave away 3rd & 4th rounders for him that year. We hear the Skins have their eye on 1 stud free agent Panthers OT Jordan Gross, who could replace the declining Jon Jansen on the right.
31. New Orleans -- $5m over They just got the credit card bill from their 2005-2008 shopping spree. Deuce McAllister, Reggie Bush, Drew Brees, DE Will Smith, DE Charles Grant, CB Mike McKenzie, huge bonuses thrown around the room. It worked on offense, not so well on defense. Brees counts $14m on the cap but thats 33% less than Peyton Mannings rate. Smith counts $9.4m in 2009 so he needs to step it up under new DC Gregg Williams. They can cut RB Aaron Stecker, WR Devery Henderson, WR David Patten, DT Hollis Thomas, and CB Jason David to free up $11m in cap space.
32. New York Jets -- $7m over Whew, last year they doled out over $100 million in guaranteed dollars. Those bonuses are pro-rated out over the next 4-5 years so theyre going to be in and out of cap jail for a while. Laveranues Coles counts $7m and they need him to accept a pay cut, which he wont. Leon Washington deserves a big extension. Ks Jay Feely and Mike Nugent are both free agents Nugent was hurt and Feely might have stolen the gig.