Tampa Bay and Several Other Teams Will Have To Spend Money, While the Cowboys, Jets, Giants and Steelers Need to Trim Their Salary Cap

Yesterday, John Clayton had a list of ten possible cap casualties once the league year resumes, highlighted by Reggie Bush. I was more interested in the team figures on the sidebar of that article of who is currently under and over the proposed cap of 120 million, which is 8 million less than in 2009 (and the league had no cap last season).

While there was much gnashing of teeth at the possibility of an uncapped year before 2010, the actual effect was that many teams took advantage of the dissolution of the salary cap floor and reduced payroll. Now, there are many teams that will have to creatively find ways to increase their payroll to meet the salary floor, which if it is at 90% of the cap, would mean every team would have to get to at least 108 million.

Tampa Bay is 59.2 million under the current proposed cap, and if we take off the 12 million to get them to the salary floor, they would still need to add 47 million in cap value this offseason. (Interesting that a young rebuilding team would be so far under with all those onerous rookie deals). That’s a lot of money. Could they creatively extend some of their young stars, like Josh Freeman, while actually taking a greater cap hit in 2011 to get to the number? In most cases, teams pay the bonuses then prorate that over the life of the contract for cap value, while starting with lower base salaries. We don’t know all the details on what is allowed yet in this CBA, but I think they could try to max his salary this year on an extension, and designate a smaller amount to bonus.

Eight other teams are between 20 and 30 million under the proposed salary cap floor: Arizona, Buffalo, Chicago, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Kansas City, Seattle, and St. Louis. Cincinnati’s numbers include Carson Palmer and Chad Ochocinco, so making moves there could actually push them even further below a salary floor. The rest of those teams will either have to be active in extending the contracts of current young players or in pursuing free agents. I would think it is a good year to hit the market as a wide receiver, as the presence of Cleveland, Chicago, and St. Louis as teams needing to spend money to get to the cap floor and needing receivers will drive the market.

At the other end, seven teams are currently over the proposed 120 million cap, led by Dallas, who are a whopping 18.9 million over. The Giants are next, followed by Pittsburgh, Oakland, Minnesota, Indianapolis and the New York Jets. Those teams will be cutting players to get under the cap number, and will need to be creative to sign any more top free agents. The Giants issues may lead to Ahmad Bradshaw, likely now an unrestricted free agent after four years of service time, going on the open market. The Jets will push hard for Santonio Holmes but will lose others. Green Bay and Denver are barely under the cap number, and will have to make a few moves to free space for rookie contracts and free agent moves. As Clayton notes, the most likely candidates in Green Bay are Nick Barnett followed by Mark Tauscher.

[photo via Getty]

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