The NFL salary cap for this coming offseason is going to be different than previous years due to the economic downturn created by COVID-19. This means some teams heading into 2021 free agency are going to be in less-than-stellar situations.
Other teams such as the Jacksonville Jaguars find themselves in a tremendous spot. As we look forward to free agency, here’s an updated NFL salary cap tracker and a look at where each team stands. This is based on a $185 million cap, not the $175 million figured being floated about.
Note: Cap figures provided by Spotrac.
Jacksonville Jaguars salary cap room: $74.88 million
Jacksonville has been attempting to trade guard Andrew Norwell for some time now. Set to count $15 million against the cap in 2021, the Jaguars can save $9 million by releasing the former Pro Bowler. Expect that to happen. It’s also possible that Jacksonville moves on from fellow offensive linemen Brandon Linder and A.J. Cann. That would save another $14 million or so against the NFL salary cap. Realistically, Jacksonville could be looking at $100 million to spend in Urban Meyer’s first offseason as its head coach.
New York Jets salary cap room: $72.89 million
The rebuilding Jets are on an interesting situation this offseason in that they will attempt to build up a talent-stricken roster under first-year head coach Robert Saleh. A lot of the focus is going to be on the quarterback situation with Sam Darnold. With that said, New York has a clear opportunity to hit free agency running. Without many free agents of their own to re-sign, the expectation here is that general manager Joe Douglas will spend big time on the open market. Outside of Jacksonville, this is one of the teams to watch.
Indianapolis Colts salary cap room: $69.56 million
What might look like a great situation in Indianapolis is clouded by what happens at quarterback. The 39-year-old Philip Rivers just recently opted to retire. Acquiring an upgrade via a trade would likely cost more. Meanwhile, important contributors in that of T.Y. Hilton, Xavier Rhodes and Malik Hooker are set to hit free agency. Without much flexibility to create more cap room, this will be the focus for Chris Ballard and Co. during the offseason.
New England Patriots salary cap room: $64.59 million
We’re fully expecting somewhat of a changing of the guard in New England this offseason after a disastrous first year post-Tom Brady. It will start at quarterback with the Patriots looking to replace Cam Newton. That could very well force the team to exhaust a lot of its cap room. However, it also makes sense for New England to move off veteran defenders Stephon Gilmore and Dont’a Hightower, both likely via trade. Not only would this net the Patriots draft compensation, it would save another $19-plus million against the NFL salary cap.
Cincinnati Bengals salary cap room: $45.60 million
To put it bluntly, veterans Geno Atkins, Bobby Hart and Trey Hopkins are unlikely to be back in 2021. Releasing the three would save a combined $21 million against the cap, helping these Bengals be players in the free-agent market. Meanwhile, longtime all-time great wide receiver A.J. Green will not be back with the Bengals in 2021. Without many in-house free agents, will Cincinnati finally be spenders on the open market?
Denver Broncos salary cap room: $38.15 million
Don’t let this $15.28 million figure fool you. New Broncos general manager George Paton has a ton of avenues to pursue when it comes to creating cap room. Denver will likely release or trade former Super Bowl MVP Von Miller, saving an astounding $18 million against the cap. It’s also likely the Broncos move off defensive back Kareem Jackson, running back Melvin Gordon, defensive lineman Jurrell Casey and cornerback A.J. Bouye. That would save another $36 million. Denver is looking at the real possibility of having $70 million, minus the cost it would take to re-sign elite safety Justin Simmons in free agency.