Reassessing Every NFL Team's Salary-Cap Situation After OTAs
Free agency and the draft are in the books, and for the most part, each team's roster is set. There will be surprise releases and potential trades, but the cap situations should stay consistent from now through the end of the season.
One noteworthy trend is that franchises with more cap space generally don't have a gargantuan sum of money tied up in the starting quarterback, allowing for greater financial flexibility (yes, we see you nodding, Seattle Seahawks fans). However, many of those teams will soon have to pay their franchise passers, meaning the number will soon shrivel up.
It's almost July. Training camps are nearly at hand. The business season will soon draw to a conclusion, and the football season will triumphantly take its place. Soon, the only numbers that matter will be wins and losses, not signing bonuses and cap hits.
But it's important to remember that the salary cap dictates the types of transactions your favorite team can and cannot make. A rudimentary knowledge of each club's cap condition will allow for a greater understanding of its future plans and thought process moving forward.
With that in mind, let's reassess every NFL team's salary-cap situation after OTAs.
Cap Space: $11.3 million
The Arizona Cardinals made a number of signings in free agency, including left tackle Jared Veldheer, cornerback Antonio Cromartie and receiver Ted Ginn. Of the three, Veldheer received the richest deal (and will count for $2.5 million against the 2014 cap).
Wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is the team's highest-paid player, garnering a salary of $16.1 million and a cap number of $8.6 million. Quarterback Carson Palmer's deal expires after this season, and it has the club's largest cap hit in 2014 at $12 million. Other large cap numbers include defensive linemen Calais Campbell ($11.2 million) and Darnell Dockett ($8.7 million).
Fitzgerald's contract is one to monitor, as the 30 year old is set to count for $23.6 million against the 2015 cap. Ascending receiver Michael Floyd's contract is up at the end of the 2015 season.
Look for general manager Steve Keim to try and sign cornerback Patrick Peterson to a big-money deal before the start of the season.
Cap Space: $9.2 million
The Atlanta Falcons had a very busy and successful free-agent period. After a bitterly disappointing 4-12 campaign, general manager Thomas Dimitroff set his sights on improving the toughness on both the offensive and defensive line, and he did just that.
Some of the team's new faces include defensive linemen Tyson Jackson and Paul Soliai and offensive guard Jon Asomoah.
Quarterback Matt Ryan has by far the largest 2014 cap hit at $17.5 million, while guard Justin Blalock surprisingly comes in second place at $7.6 million.
Star receiver Julio Jones' (2014 cap number of $5.1 million) situation looms as one to monitor. Jones' rookie deal expires at the conclusion of the 2015 season, so look for the Falcons to try and lock him up in advance of next season.
Notable players set to become free agents in 2015 include receiver Roddy White ($6.3 million) and linebacker Sean Weatherspoon ($4.1 million). Weatherspoon will miss the entire 2014 season after rupturing his Achilles tendon during an offseason workout earlier this month.
Cap Space: $4.3 million
Baltimore Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome has put together yet another shrewd offseason that has the team poised to get back to the postseason after last year's 8-8 campaign.
Left tackle Eugene Monroe (2014 cap hit of $3.2 million) was re-signed, as was tight end Dennis Pitta. Former Carolina Panthers receiver Steve Smith is quarterback Joe Flacco's newest weapon.
As for Flacco, he possesses the team's second-largest cap hit at $14.8 million; defensive tackle Haloti Ngata is first at $16 million.
Receiver Torrey Smith is about to enter the final year of his rookie contract and is set to earn only $837,000 (with a cap hit of $1 million). The Ravens had hoped to extend his deal before the draft, but Newsome will surely try and keep him in the fold in 2015 and beyond.
Cap Space: $7.5 million
Buffalo Bills general manager Doug Whaley watched as star safety Jairus Byrd departed Western New York and joined the New Orleans Saints in free agency, but he brought in linebacker Brandon Spikes and defensive back Corey Graham.
The club's largest 2014 cap hit belongs to defensive end Mario Williams at $18.8 million. The second- and third-largest cap hits also belong to defensive linemen: Marcell Dareus ($6.4 million) and Kyle Williams ($6.2 million).
Cap Space: $5.7 million
The Carolina Panthers had a perilous salary-cap situation entering the business season, and as a result, they lost a number of talented players in the free-agent period. Gone are receivers Steve Smith, Brandon LaFell and Ted Ginn, as well as cornerback Captain Munnerlyn and safety Mike Mitchell.
But general manager Dave Gettleman has navigated the club out of the salary-cap mess, as the team currently has $5.7 million in cap space.
Defensive ends Charles Johnson ($16.4 million) and Greg Hardy ($13.1 million on the franchise tag) have the team's most substantial 2014 cap hits. Hardy is playing under the franchise tag this year, so his deal will once again need to be addressed next offseason.
Quarterback Cam Newton (2014 cap hit of $7 million) is a prime candidate for an extension, but his contract is set to run through 2016.
Cap Space: $5.2 million
Chicago Bears general manager Phil Emery signed quarterback Jay Cutler to a big-money extension at the start of the offseason, and Cutler has a 2014 cap hit of $18.5 million as a result, by far the largest on the team.
Emery also splurged in free agency in an effort to improve what was the NFL's 30th-ranked defense. Defensive ends Jared Allen ($3 million cap hit), Lamarr Houston ($5 million) and Willie Young ($2.6 million) were all brought in, and the club received $20 million in cap relief with the release of defensive end Julius Peppers.
Two of the team's most important veteran defensive players, linebacker Lance Briggs and cornerback Charles Tillman, will both hit the free-agent market after this season. Running back Matt Forte and receiver Alshon Jeffery's contracts are through 2016.
Cap Space: $23.2 million
Despite possessing one of the NFL's best 53-man rosters, the Cincinnati Bengals still have over $23 million in cap space. But a few long-term, big-money deals will soon be doled out and will greatly affect that number.
Quarterback Andy Dalton (2014 cap hit of $1.6 million) is entering the final year of his rookie deal, and he can earn himself a lot of money with a successful 2015 season. Receiver A.J. Green's (2014 cap hit of $6.2 million) contact expires after 2015, and there is no doubt the club will attempt to lock him up to a long-term deal.
The club's other big numbers against the 2014 cap include defensive tackle Geno Atkins ($9 million), cornerback Leon Hall ($8.7 million) and defensive end Carlos Dunlap ($8.6 million).
In addition to Dalton, contracts set to expire after this season include tight end Jermaine Gresham, running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis and linebacker Rey Maualuga.
Cap Space: $24.6 million
Cleveland Browns general manager Ray Farmer has had a busy offseason.
In addition to drafting Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel, Farmer also re-signed center Alex Mack (2014 cap hit of $10 million) and cornerback Joe Haden ($12.1 million). Linebacker Karlos Dansby ($5.5 million), safety Donte Whitner ($4.2 million) and running back Ben Tate ($2.4 million) were signed during the free-agent period.
Left tackle Joe Thomas has the club's biggest 2014 cap number at $12.3 million.
The fact that the Browns aren't paying franchise money to a quarterback has enabled them to hold onto $24.6 million of available cap space.
Pass-rusher Jabaal Sheard ($1.6 million) and tight end Jordan Cameron ($1.5 million) are both slated to become free agents after this season.
Cap Space: $8.8 million
Much like Christmas or the NFL draft, Dallas Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones somehow finagling the team out of salary-cap hell has become an annual event. After looking shaky entering the business season, the club has $8.8 million of cap space to work with.
Of course, Jones needed to release pass-rushing demon DeMarcus Ware (saving $7.4 million against the cap in the process) to make it happen, but it still got done.
Defensive tackle Henry Melton (2014 cap hit of $1.7 million) was the team's biggest free-agent signing.
Cornerback Brandon Carr ($12.2 million), quarterback Tony Romo ($11.7 million) and tight end Jason Witten ($8.4 million) have the team's largest 2014 cap hits. Earlier this offseason, Romo restructured his deal to provide cap relief.
Cap Space: $4.3 million
After watching his team get physically manhandled in Super Bowl XLVIII against the Seahawks, Denver Broncos general manager John Elway made a point of improving the team's defense in the free-agent period.
In that vein, Elway brought in pass-rusher DeMarcus Ware (2014 cap hit of $9.6 million), safety T.J. Ward ($3.2 million) and cornerback Aqib Talib ($7.9 million). The club also lost receiver Eric Decker, running back Knowshon Moreno and cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie.
Quarterback Peyton Manning has the team's largest 2014 cap hit at $17.5 million.
Things aren't all rosy, however, as receivers Demaryius Thomas and Wes Welker and tight end Julius Thomas are all entering the final year of their respective contracts. As Bleacher Report's Chris Hansen writes here, extending Thomas could prove to be a challenge for Elway.
Cap Space: $2 million
The Detroit Lions weren't extremely active in free agency, re-signing tight end Brandon Pettigrew and bringing in safety James Ihedigbo.
Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh carries a massive 2014 cap hit of $22.4 million (the largest on the team), and his deal expires after this season. His situation looms as one to watch.
Quarterback Matthew Stafford ($15.8 million) and receiver Calvin Johnson ($13 million) also possess gargantuan 2014 cap hits.
In addition to Suh, defensive tackle Nick Fairley ($3.1 million) is also due to hit free agency at the conclusion of this season. It's unlikely the team will be able to keep both Suh and Fairley.
Green Bay Packers
Cap Space: $13.5 million
Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson went against his standard grain when he made a splash in free agency, signing former Bears pass-rusher Julius Peppers to help fortify the defense. Peppers has a 2014 cap number of $3.5 million.
Quarterback Aaron Rodgers counts for $17.5 million against the 2014 cap, while linebacker Clay Matthews ($10.9 million) and cornerback Tramon Williams ($9.5 million) round out the top three. Cornerback Sam Shields was extended, and he now carries a cap hit of $5.1 million.
Williams will be a free agent after this season, as will receivers Jordy Nelson ($4.3 million) and Randall Cobb ($1 million). For more on Nelson and Cobb's futures in Green Bay, watch this video with Bleacher Report's Adam Lefkoe and Packers play-by-play man Wayne Larrivee.
Cap Space: $7.6 million
The biggest free-agent signing made by Houston Texans general manager Rick Smith and coach Bill O'Brien was quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will count for $3.3 million against the 2014 cap.
Wide receiver Andre Johnson ($15.6 million) owns the club's largest 2014 cap number. Cornerback Jonathan Joseph ($11.2 million), running back Arian Foster ($8.5 million) and left tackle Duane Brown ($8.5 million) are also up there.
Johnson is unhappy with the direction of the team and hasn't participated in offseason workouts, forfeiting a $1 million roster bonus in the process. While his cap numbers are huge through the duration of his contract (2017), it's not outside the realm of possibility that a team could look to deal for him, but it would have to clear sufficient space to do so.
Linebacker Brooks Reed and cornerback Kareem Jackson will both become free agents after the season.
Cap Space: $13.5 million
Indianapolis Colts general manager Ryan Grigson has had an active offseason, as he re-signed cornerback Vontae Davis (2014 cap hit of $6.2 million) and brought in defensive lineman Arthur Jones ($5.6 million), linebacker D'Qwell Jackson ($4.7 million) and receiver Hakeem Nicks ($3.9 million) in the free-agent period.
Linebacker Robert Mathis has the club's largest 2014 cap hit at $8.7 million, and he's followed by Davis and receiver Reggie Wayne.
Quarterback Andrew Luck will count for $6 million against the cap, and his rookie deal expires after the 2016 season. Expect the club to lock him up to a big-money extension, which will significantly decrease its yearly cap space.
Wayne (2014 cap hit of $6.1 million) will become a free agent after this season.
Cap Space: $27.2 million
Much like the other teams on the list with a large amount of cap space, the Jacksonville Jaguars aren't (yet) paying big-time money to a quarterback, which obviously helps the financial situation. Rookie Blake Bortles will count for $4.6 million against the 2014 cap.
Guard Zane Beadles (2014 cap hit of $7.5 million), defensive end Chris Clemons ($5.1 million) and defensive tackle Red Bryant ($5.4 million) were all signed by general manager David Caldwell in the free-agent period.
Linebacker Paul Posluszny ($9.5 million), tight end Marcedes Lewis ($8.2 million) and Beadles own the club's largest 2014 cap hits.
Receiver Cecil Shorts' $1.5 million contract expires after this season.
Kansas City Chiefs
Cap Space: $9.7 million
The Kansas City Chiefs lost a number of talented players from last year's 11-5 squad, including left tackle Branden Albert, guards Geoff Schwartz and Jon Asamoah, defensive lineman Tyson Jackson and running back Dexter McCluster.
Coach Andy Reid and general manager John Dorsey needed to save funds to potentially extend the contract of quarterback Alex Smith, who carries an $8 million cap hit in 2014. Smith is in the final year of his deal.
Receiver Dwayne Bowe (2014 cap hit of $12 million), linebacker Tamba Hali ($11.4 million) and safety Eric Berry ($11.6 million) carry the team's largest 2014 cap hits.
Linebacker Justin Houston ($1.5 million) will also become a free agent after this season.
Berry's deal expires after the 2015 campaign, so expect the team to try and re-sign him before next season kicks off.
Cap Space: $15.7 million
New Miami Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey made a necessary signing in the free-agent period with left tackle Branden Albert, who will count for $4.2 million against the 2014 cap. Running back Knowshon Moreno ($3 million) was also brought in.
The club's biggest 2014 cap numbers belong to receiver Mike Wallace ($17.2 million), linebacker Dannell Ellerbe ($7.4 million) and defensive end Cameron Wake ($7.2 million).
Defensive lineman Jared Odrick ($2.7 million) will hit free agency after the season.
Quarterback Ryan Tannehill's ($3.4 million) deal runs through 2016, and a successful 2015 campaign will drive his price tag way up.
Cap Space: $7.3 million
Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman made defensive tackle Linval Joseph (2014 cap hit of $4.6 million) the jewel of his free-agent class and also signed cornerback Captain Munnerlyn ($3.8 million).
The biggest numbers against the 2014 cap come from running back Adrian Peterson ($14.4 million), linebacker Chad Greenway ($7.2 million) and defensive end Everson Griffen ($8.2 million).
Quarterback Christian Ponder ($3.2 million) and tight end Kyle Rudolph ($1.4 million) will both become free agents after this season.
Rookie quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will count for $1.2 million against the 2014 cap.
New England Patriots
Cap Space: $7.2 million
New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick made one of the biggest splashes of the free-agent period when he signed cornerback Darrelle Revis (2014 cap hit of $7 million). Revis is on a one-year deal, and that number will clear the books next offseason.
The team also brought in cornerback Brandon Browner ($2.9 million) and re-signed receiver Julian Edelman ($4.2 million).
The club's largest 2014 cap numbers belong to quarterback Tom Brady ($14.8 million), guard Logan Mankins ($10.5 million) and linebacker Jerod Mayo ($7.2 million).
Safety Devin McCourty ($5.1 million) becomes a free agent at season's end.
New Orleans Saints
Cap Space: $1.6 million
New Orleans Saints general manager Mickey Loomis made one of the largest signings of the free-agent period when he inked safety Jairus Byrd to a big-money deal that will count for $3.5 million against the 2014 cap.
The club's biggest 2014 cap numbers belong to quarterback Drew Brees ($18.4 million) and guards Jahri Evans ($11 million) and Ben Grubbs ($9 million)—and yes, it's incredibly rare to have two offensive guards in the top three overall cap hits on a single team.
Meanwhile, Jimmy Graham is currently embroiled in a dispute over whether he should be paid like a tight end or a wide receiver. If he were to sign his current franchise tender, he'd count for $7.3 million against the 2014 cap.
The Saints will look to keep Graham in the Bayou for the foreseeable future—and at a hefty price.
New York Giants
Cap Space: $7 million
The New York Giants needed to make a splash after last season's disappointing 7-9 campaign, and general manager Jerry Reese did just that in the free-agent period.
Reese signed cornerbacks Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie (2014 cap hit of $2.7 million) and Walter Thurmond ($3 million) and running back Rashad Jennings ($1.3 million).
Quarterback Eli Manning will count for $20.4 million against the 2014 cap. Safety Antrel Rolle ($9.2 million) and receiver Victor Cruz ($7.4 million) carry the second- and third-largest cap numbers this season.
Defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul ($4.6 million) is entering the final year of his rookie deal.
New York Jets
Cap Space: $22.3 million
In free agency, New York Jets general manager John Idzik signed receiver Eric Decker (2014 cap hit of $4 million), quarterback Michael Vick ($4 million) and running back Chris Johnson ($2.7 million).
Left tackle D'Brickashaw Ferguson carries the largest 2014 cap number at $11.6 million, while center Nick Mangold ($7.2 million) and linebacker David Harris ($7 million) round out the top three.
Presumptive starting quarterback Geno Smith carries a 2014 cap hit of $1.1 million.
Harris, cornerback Kyle Wilson ($2.3 million) and Vick will become free agents after the 2014 campaign.
Cap Space: $10.2 million
Following back-to-back 4-12 seasons and two years of navigating the team out of salary-cap hell, general manager Reggie McKenzie opened up the checkbook and doled out millions of dollars in free agency.
Incoming players include receiver James Jones (2014 cap hit of $3.8 million), linebacker LaMarr Woodley ($4.8 million), tackle Donald Penn ($5 million), running back Maurice Jones-Drew ($2.5 million), defensive end Justin Tuck ($5 million), offensive lineman Austin Howard ($4.4 million) and quarterback Matt Schaub (a team-high $8 million).
Safety Tyvon Branch is set to count for $7.1 million against the cap. Out of the players with the top seven numbers against the 2014 cap, Branch is the only one that played for Oakland in 2013.
Rookie quarterback Derek Carr will only count for $976k in 2014.
Cap Space: $18.8 million
When Philadelphia Eagles coach Chip Kelly and general manager Howie Roseman released receiver DeSean Jackson, they saved $12.5 million against the 2014 cap.
The team's biggest numbers against the 2014 cap belong to running back LeSean McCoy ($9.7 million), left tackle Jason Peters ($8.2 million) and linebacker DeMeco Ryans ($6.9 million).
Starting quarterback Nick Foles will only count for $770,000 against the 2014 cap, and his rookie deal expires after the 2016 season. If he has another stellar season, his cap number will go way up once he receives an extension.
Cap Space: $6.5 million
The Pittsburgh Steelers entered the business season with a messy cap situation, but a number of transactions consummated by general manager Kevin Colbert alleviated the situation, none more so than the release of linebacker LaMarr Woodley.
Safety Troy Polamalu was brought back at a cap number of $6.3 million, and safety Mike Mitchell was signed in free agency. Mitchell's 2014 cap number is $2.2 million.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger ($18.8 million) and linebackers Lawrence Timmons ($11.8 million) and Jason Worilds ($9.7 million) have the largest numbers against the 2014 cap.
Center Maurkice Pouncey recently received a contract extension, and his cap number for 2014 rests at $5 million.
Cornerback Ike Taylor and Worilds will hit free agency after this season.
San Diego Chargers
Cap Space: $2.1 million
San Diego Chargers general manager Tom Telesco didn't make a huge splash in the free-agent period, but he did bring in running back Donald Brown (2014 cap hit of $1.8 million).
The Bolts' biggest numbers against the 2014 cap belong to quarterback Philip Rivers ($16.6 million), safety Eric Weddle ($10.1 million) and tight end Antonio Gates ($7.3 million).
Running back Ryan Mathews ($3.6 million) and linebacker Melvin Ingram's ($2.2 million) contracts will expire after the 2014 season.
San Francisco 49ers
Cap Space: $5.8 million
The San Francisco 49ers made headlines with their lucrative contract extension of quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who will now count for $3.7 million against the 2014 cap. That number will jump to $17 million in 2015.
The biggest numbers against the 2014 cap belong to tackle Anthony Davis ($7.5 million), tight end Vernon Davis ($7.3 million) and defensive lineman Justin Smith ($6.9 million). Davis (the tight end) is seeking to redo his deal, but he's 30 years old and is already the third-highest-paid player at his position, so don't expect that to happen.
Receiver Michael Crabtree ($4.7 million) is entering the final year of his rookie deal, as is guard Mike Iupati ($4.6 million). It's increasingly unlikely that general manager Trent Baalke will be able to sign both men to long-term deals; expect at least one to jump ship next offseason.
Cap Space: $7.1 million
The Seattle Seahawks haven't had to pay quarterback Russell Wilson yet, which is why they still have $7.1 million in space.
The defending Super Bowl champions extended the contracts of safety Earl Thomas (2014 cap hit of $7.3 million) and cornerback Richard Sherman ($3.6 million); Sherman's number will climb to $12.2 million in 2015.
Receiver Percy Harvin ($13.4 million), left tackle Russell Okung ($11.2 million) and defensive end Cliff Avril ($9.2 million) possess the club's largest numbers against the 2014 cap.
Wilson is set to only count for $817,000 against the cap. He is obviously in line for a huge raise.
Avril will be a free agent after the 2014 season.
St. Louis Rams
Cap Space: $1.7 million
St. Louis Rams general manager Les Snead was able to bring back offensive lineman Rodger Saffold ($4 million against the 2014 cap) and sign receiver Kenny Britt ($1.3 million) in the free-agent period.
Quarterback Sam Bradford carries the club's largest 2014 cap number at $17.6 million, and his deal expires after the 2016 season. That number will be $16.5 million in 2015, so if Bradford doesn't perform this year, it could be his final season in St. Louis.
Defensive end Chris Long ($14.9 million against the 2014 cap) and linebacker James Laurinaitis ($10.4 million) also carry large numbers, while 2013's NFL Defensive Player of the Year, defensive end Robert Quinn, only carries a $3 million charge. Quinn's rookie deal expires after the 2015 season, so look for a deal to get done after this campaign.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Cap Space: $10.6 million
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, keyed by new head coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht, were among the most active teams in free agency.
Smith and Licht opted to release cornerback Darrelle Revis, who was set to earn $16 million in 2014, which cleared up cap space. The duo used that money to bring in players like cornerback Alterraun Verner ($8.2 million against the 2014 cap), defensive end Michael Johnson ($9 million), quarterback Josh McCown ($4.7 million) and tackle Anthony Collins ($6 million).
The team's largest numbers against the 2014 cap belong to defensive tackle Gerald McCoy ($15.6 million), receiver Vincent Jackson ($12.4 million) and guard Carl Nicks ($9.3 million).
McCoy will be a free agent after this season, and the sides have reportedly reportedly started talks on a potential extension, per Pat Yasinskas of ESPN.com.
Cap Space: $18.9 million
The Tennessee Titans weren't extremely active in free agency, but general manager Ruston Webster did bring in linebackers Shaun Phillips (2014 cap hit of $1.9 million) and Wesley Woodyard ($2.5 million) and tackle Michael Oher ($3 million).
Guard Andy Levitre ($8.6 million), cornerback Jason McCourty ($8.3 million) and safety Michael Griffin ($8 million) own the largest cap numbers for 2014.
Quarterback Jake Locker is entering the final year of his rookie deal, and he counts for $4 million against the 2014 cap. If he plays well and earns an extension, the club's future cap space will lessen.
Tackle Michael Roos ($6.6 million) will become a free agent after the season, and with Webster having selected tackle Taylor Lewan in the first round of last month's draft, the Titans could receive some financial relief by letting Roos walk next offseason.
Cap Space: $2 million
Washington Redskins general manager Bruce Allen and coach Jay Gruden have had an active offseason as they seek to turn the team back into a playoff unit after a miserable 3-13 campaign.
Brought in were receivers DeSean Jackson (2014 cap hit of $4.2 million, although it rises to $9.2 million in 2015) and Andre Roberts ($2.2 million), as well as defensive tackle Jason Hatcher ($3.7 million).
Pass-rushing demon Brian Orakpo was retained via the franchise tag; he'll count for $11.4 million against the 2014 cap and will need to be signed to a long-term deal next offseason. Tackle Trent Williams ($10.9 million) and receiver Pierre Garcon ($9.7 million) also carry large cap numbers in 2014.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III will count for $5.7 million against the 2014 cap, and his deal is set to expire after the 2015 season. Expect talks for an extension to start next offseason.