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Salary Cap Notes: Team Updates

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Salary Cap Notes: Team Updates
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Andrew Cohen of OverTheCap.com breaks down Free Agency's first week for every NFL team from a salary …

The Los Angeles Rams selected defensive tackle Sean Gilbert with the third overall pick in the 1992 draft. After establishing himself as one of the game’s premier defenders over his first four seasons, Gilbert wanted a raise.  Unwilling to accommodate Gilbert’s demands, St. Louis (the Rams relocated from LA after the 1994 season) traded Gilbert to Washington for the sixth overall selection in the 1996 draft.

After one successful season in the nation’s capital, Gilbert was still unsatisfied with his contract. When the Redskins also failed to meet his contract demands, he sat out the entire 1997 season.

Undeniably talented, Gilbert was ultimately traded again—this time for two first-round picks. The Panthers, the recipient of the disgruntled defensive tackle, handed Gilbert a contract worth substantially more money than he asked Washington for.

Why does any of this matter? Because Diana Gilbert is Sean’s sister.  She also happens to be the mother of Darrelle Revis.

Sean has acted as an advisor to Darrelle since the Jets drafted him with the 14th pick in the 2007 draft. Gilbert guided him through both of his holdouts with the Jets, and helped him negotiate the six-year, $96 million contract—which was really just a series of one-year, $16 million deals— that Revis signed with Tampa Bay last offseason. By gambling on himself in the NFL’s most uniquely structured contract, Revis made $16 million in one season—or exactly twice the amount of the fully guaranteed money that Alterraun Verner received as his replacement in the Buccaneers’ secondary.

The design of Revis’ 2014 contract with New England is equally unique. Containing $11.5 million in fully guaranteed 2014 dollars (which can increase to as much as $12 million based on the number on the active roster), he is set to make $20 million in 2015. And since New England prorated the two-year deal’s signing bonus over both years, Revis’ 2015 cap hit is a whopping $25 million.

Revis’ $20 million salary in year two of the deal might as well be $50 million, as there is no chance he plays under this contract in 2015. But his $25 million 2015 cap hit will exhaust the Patriots’ leverage in negotiations when trying to keep Revis off the open market.

So if Revis remains one of the game’s premier defenders in 2014 (and, barring injury, there’s no reason to believe that the 28-year-old’s ability has declined), the star cornerback will likely be playing for his fourth team in four years come 2015.

That is unless he is willing to take a pay cut to stay in New England—an action bordering on criminal from a member of the Gilbert bloodline.

But Revis wasn’t the only notable player who switched teams this past week. Below is a breakdown of the salary cap situation of all 32 teams after one week of free agency.


Editor's Note
: The cap numbers of teams are constantly changing. Overthecap.com is the leading source for all NFL salary cap and contract information analysis. Follow me or OTC founder Jason on Twitter.

1. Oakland Raiders

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $47.8 million (figure doesn’t include the signings of Justin Tuck, Lamar Woodley and Antonio Smith)

After failing to secure any of the market’s top guys, Reggie McKenzie opted to spend Oakland’s unlimited funds on veterans in their decline phase (Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley) and second-tier free agents (Tarell Brown, Antonio Smith). If you forced me to come up with a compliment for McKenzie’s offseason thus far (not an easy task), he did correctly structure the deal of Austin Howard. The lack of a signing bonus in the Howard deal means no dead money is attached to this contract after 2014. Chances are he used this same front-loading method in the Tuck, Woodley and Smith deals, but I have not yet received those contract specifics.

2. Cleveland Browns

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $39.9 million (figure doesn’t include the signing of Ben Tate)

Since 2007, 12 different quarterbacks have had the honor of starting a game for the Cleveland Browns. In an attempt to stabilize the position, Ray Farmer cut ties with both Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell this past week—two moves that actually resulted in a net loss of 2014 salary cap space.

Two of Farmer’s other noteworthy transactions involved replacing recently departed defenders with high-profile free agents. Karlos Dansby takes the place of the recently released D’Qwell Jackson, while Donte Whitner will step in for T.J. Ward. What’s a bit surprising about the deals of Dansby and Whitner is that they each contained prorated signing bonuses. With an abundance of 2014 cap space, these deals could have been structured with more up-front money to avoid future cap obligations.

In an upgrade from the corpses that filled in for the Browns at running back after the Trent Richardson trade, Farmer also signed former Houston Texan Ben Tate (these contract specifics are not yet in.)  The Browns still have plenty of cap space, so look for them to try and lock Joe Haden and Alex Mack into long-term extensions in the coming weeks.

3. Cincinnati Bengals

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $28.1 million

Notorious non-spenders, somebody should let the Bengals know that free agency started. The only team to enter the free agency period with more than $20 million in available cap space and somehow have more a week later, Cincinnati has done nothing to help its 2014 cause. They predictably let Michael Johnson walk, and reportedly won’t match Cleveland’s offer sheet for wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (which would add another $1.4 million to their current available cap figure). After having spent only $95,057,771 in cash last year, their 2014 current cash spending totals $88,727,771. They’re well behind pace in terms of meeting the NFL’s minimum spending requirements.

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $25.3 million

Credit the Jaguars for not only using their fortunate cap situation to infuse the roster with talent, but also for structuring the contracts of this talent in an economically efficient manner. The deals of newly signed Zane Beadles, Chris Clemons, Toby Gerhart and Dakota Watson all contain $0 in prorated bonus money.  GM David Caldwell also used this “pay-as-you-go” method of structuring deals with Red Bryant and Chad Henne, who were locked up just prior to the start of free agency. The benefit of for Jacksonville is that they forego the ever-risky “kicking the can forward.”

5. New York Jets

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $27.8 million

The age-old adage “if you’ve got it flaunt it” (or maybe those are Beyoncé lyrics) doesn’t apply to the current CBA. Due to the new carryover rules, there’s no reason to unnecessarily spend all of your available cap space. Fully aware of these circumstances, John Idzik—the former right-hand man to John Schneider—refuses to make any impulse buys.

The Jets not only received good bang for their buck with the signing of top free agent wide receiver Eric Decker, but Idzik structured the contract in an efficient manner. The dead money associated with the deal decreases from $11 million in 2015 to $4.5 million in 2016, meaning Gang Green will be able to part ways with Decker after two seasons if the signing doesn’t work out. Idzik also got good value on Austin Howard-replacement Breno Giamomini’s contract. With plenty of 2014 cap room left, look for Idzik to continue to look for market-bargains.

6. Miami Dolphins

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $25.2 million (figure doesn’t include the signing of Cortland Finnegan)

Miami used the first week of free agency to bolster its interior. They signed left tackle Brandon Albert to a contract (five years, $47 million) that contains no guaranteed money after 2015; the deals of defensive tackle’s Earl Mitchell (four years, $16 million) and Randy Starks (two years, $10 million) can both be cheaply ripped up after 2014. Miami also took a flyer on cornerback Cortland Finnegan (these contract specifics are not yet in), and even got some (potential) compensation for lost cause Jon Martin. With plenty of cap room still available, new GM Dennis Hickey will continue to survey the market. He’s done well thus far.

7. Green Bay Packers

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $24.2 million (figure doesn’t include the signing of Julius Peppers)

Like the Broncos, Patriots and Saints, the Packers are blessed to have a quarterback who, when healthy, ensures the franchise won’t ever be in a “rebuilding mode.” But unlike the situations in Denver, New England and New Orleans, Aaron Rodgers is just 30 years old and under contract until 2019. This has enabled the always-deliberate Ted Thompson to meticulously navigate the 2014 open market despite having entered free agency with almost $30 million in cap space.

After re-signing B.J. Raji to a one-year pact and reportedly guaranteeing just $7.5 million of the 3 year, $30 million deal given to the aging Julius Peppers, Thompson will continue to look for free agent bargains. He is also in prime position to lock up Jordy Nelson and/or Randall Cobb (both free agents after 2014) to team-friendly extensions.

8. Philadelphia Eagles

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $18.8 million (figure doesn’t include the extension of Darren Sproles)

The NFL’s most active team just prior to free agency, the Eagles added two significant pieces over the past week. The three-year, $15 million deal given to Malcolm Jenkins was structured in a team-friendly manner. Jenkins, who only received $6 million in full guarantees, could conceivably be released after this season if he suffers a serious injury towards the end of 2014. Philadelphia then made sure to extend Darren Sproles after trading for him, though I have not yet seen the specifics on the extension. The Eagles still possess one of the NFL’s more favorable salary cap pictures.

9. Buffalo Bills

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $18.3 million (figure doesn’t include the re-signing of Scott Chandler)

Buffalo’s biggest splash came via the signing of free agent cornerback Corey Graham. Aside from a few other small moves, the Bills have remained quiet over this past week. Still way under the 2014 cap, look for the Bills to be more involved in free agency’s second week.

10. Minnesota Vikings

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $16.3 million

After locking up Everson Griffen just prior to the start of free agency, the Vikings continued to add pieces to their defense. The five-year deal given to defensive tackle Linval Joseph, worth a total of $31.25 million, makes him the NFL’s 11th highest paid defensive tackle in terms of average annual salary.  It reads as a true two-year, $13 million deal (or $12.8 million if Joseph chooses to skip OTA’s this year), as his dead money figure decreases from $6 million in 2015 to $1.8 million in 2016. Captain Munnerlyn’s three-year, $11.25 million deal is certainly affordable. Even with Griffen and Joseph accounting for almost $15 million in 2014 cap space, Minnesota still has plenty of spending money.

11. Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $15.3 million

With a healthy $23.6 million in available 2014 cap space prior to free agency, the Bucs freed up $16 million more with the release of Revis. The new regime immediately spent these cap dollars in a cap-efficient manner—with the use of roster bonuses as opposed to prorated signing bonuses in the contracts of Alterraun Verner and Michael Johnson.

Not only did the Bucs sign Verner for less than expected, but they can part ways with him after 2014 at no cost (his 2015 salary is only guaranteed for injury). They can part ways with Johnson with no dead money attached after 2015. This method of not including prorated bonuses was also used in the Bucs’ new deals for Josh McCown, Anthony Thomas, Clinton McDonald and Brandon Myers. They still have greater than $15 million of 2014 cap space, meaning they’ll likely have some extra to carry over to 2015.

12. Indianapolis Colts

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $14.3 million

The Colts made some noise in free agency’s first week by dishing out new contracts to Vontae Davis, Arthur Jones and Hakeem Nicks. Davis’ $36 million contract was front-loaded, meaning the Colts will be able to cheaply part ways with him after 2015 if his performance declines. The structure of Jones’ contract reads as more or less a two-year deal worth $16 million, and the one-year deal given to Nicks was low-risk/high-reward.

Other notable moves made by GM Ryan Grigson include the replacement of recently cut center Samson Satele with free agent Phil Costa, as well as letting free agent Donald Brown walk in free agency—a signal that the Colts are ready to make the risky decision to hand Trent Richardson the full running back load.

Indianapolis still has plenty of 2014 cap space available, so Grigson might not be done dealing.

13. Seattle Seahawks

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $13.4 million

Winning a Super Bowl inevitably leads to tough decisions. After releasing Sidney Rice and Red Bryant earlier in the offseason, GM John Schneider released Chris Clemons this past week ($7.5 million in 2014 cap savings). Schneider was also unable to retain in-house free agents Golden Tate, Walter Thurmond, Breno Giacomini and Brandon Browner—major contributors in recent seasons.

However, by bringing back Michael Bennett at a discounted price, Seattle is still in a fortunate cap position—a fact that can’t be understated due to the expiring contracts of Russell Wilson, Russell Okung, Richard Sherman and Earl Thomas.

14. St. Louis Rams

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $13 million (figure doesn’t include the re-signing of Roger Saffold)

One of the quietest teams of the past week, we may not have heard from St. Louis at all if not for Mark Davis. It was only after the Raiders owner pulled the plug on the agreed-to Saffold deal (citing a failed physical) that the Rams swooped in and resigned the versatile lineman to a 5-year, $31.7 million deal. Saffold’s contract specifics with the Rams are not yet available—the Rams have approximately $13 million in available cap space before accounting for his 2014 cap hit. As expected, Sam Bradford’s $17.6 million cap figure for the 2014 league year has greatly affected St. Louis’ ability to bring in free agents.

15. New York Giants

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $12.6 million (figure doesn’t include the signings of Walter Thurmond and Jon Beason)

Never looking to make a big splash, Jerry Reese shored-up Big Blue’s holes with a multitude of low-risk “small signings.”  None of the newly-acquired Rashad Jennings, Geoff Schwartz, Walter Thurmond or J.D. Walton have any money guaranteed beyond 2015; the same is true for the re-signings of Stevie Brown, Jon Beason, Trumaine McBride and Henry Hynoski. With some spending money still at his disposal, look for Reese to continue probing the market.

16. Houston Texans

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $12.1 million

Rivaling the Bengals as the NFL’s least active free agent squad, the Texans’ $12 million in available cap space would increase to over $15 million with the release of Matt Schaub. Although they have the available cap space to make a play for a free agent, Houston seems content standing still. The Texans do have a fair amount of talent in place as well as the #1 overall selection in May’s draft. Their biggest offseason concern (aside from finding a franchise quarterback) is likely locking up J.J. Watt (a free agent after 2014) to a long-term deal.

17. Denver Broncos

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $11.7 million (figure doesn’t include the signing of Emmanuel Sanders)

John Elway hasn’t slept a wink in the past week. After locking up T.J. Ward for below market value, he signed Aqib Talib to a six-year deal worth $57 million. Last but not least, DeMarcus Ware was brought aboard. The importance of guaranteed money and contract structure in the NFL has never been clearer after Elway’s free agent splurge.

A perfect example of the media overstating a contract’s true guaranteed dollar amount, Talib received only $11.5 million in fully guaranteed salary (yeah, only). Given Denver’s current “win-now” roster structure, there’s a legitimate chance that the Broncos part ways with Talib after just one year. And with the $7 million in cap savings that gets credited to Denver if they release Talib after 2015, I’d be surprised if he remains a Bronco for more than two seasons.

I’d bet on Demarcus Ware, whose three-year deal with Denver is worth a total of $30 million, ultimately earning more than Talib. With half of his 2015 base salary guaranteed, the soon-to-be 32-year-old will be a Bronco is 2015 unless he suffers a serious injury late next season. T.J. Ward is the only one of the three that I can realistically see fulfilling the contract he signed.

18. New England Patriots

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $10.8 million (figure doesn’t include the signings of Julian Edelman, Brandon Browner and Brandon LaFell)

The result of pushing forward some of Revis’ money into 2015, restructuring Tommy Kelly’s contract, and releasing aging run-stopper Isaac Sopoaga (these three moves account for a net of -$3.7 million in 2014 cap room) was extra spending money for New England. This enabled them to resign slot-master Julian Edelman as well as bring in Brandon Browner and Brandon LaFell (three guys whose contract specifics I have not yet received).

Vince Wilfork, who is entering the final year of his deal, asked for his release. While granting Wilfork his wish would save the Pats $8 million in 2014 cap room, it’d leave a gaping hole on their defensive line.

19. Atlanta Falcons

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $10.6 million

Tony Gonzalez is not yet ready to admit his career is over. By failing to officially hand in his retirement papers, the Falcons were forced to release Gonzalez before they incurred the cap hit associated with his March 12th roster bonus. While this did not have any salary cap implications (Atlanta would have absorbed the resulting $1.75 million dead money hit even if Gonzalez officially retired), it means that Gonzalez is now free to sign with a contender during a stretch run if he so pleases.

Atlanta’s hand was forced even though they entered free agency with around $18 million in available cap space. This is the result of a busy Thomas Dimitroff in the opening days of free agency. Dimitroff signed outsiders Tyson Jackson, Paul Soliai and Jon Asamoah - the three combined for a $10.3 million 2014 cap hit. After accounting for some other cap adjustments, Atlanta now has approximately $10 million in remaining cap room.

20. Baltimore Ravens

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $10 million (before the re-signing of Daryl Smith)

Ozzie Newsome’s top offseason priority, Eugene Monroe will be protecting Joe Flacco’s blindside for the foreseeable future.  Monroe’s five-year contract worth $37.5 million contains $19 million in fully guaranteed money. The contract’s structure suggests Monroe will almost certainly earn at least $24 million (Baltimore saves only $600,000 against the cap by letting him go after 2015), and there is a legitimate possibility of him earning the contract’s full value. Newsome also locked Steve Smith into a team-friendly three-year deal after acquiring him from Carolina. With $10 million in cap space left, the Ravens still have money to spend.

21. Washington Redskins

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $9.5 million

Despite Dan Snyder’s penchant for overspending on the open market combined with the Redskin’s desirable cap situation, Washington didn’t make as big of a splash as one might have expected.

The Redskins got a bargain with their signing of Andre Roberts (four years, $15 million). Since Washington can save $3 million against the cap by cutting Roberts after 2015, you can count on this being at least a two-year, $8 million deal. The structure of newly signed Shawn Lauvao’s deal (four years, $17 million) also says he’ll be a Redskin for a minimum of two years. Washington’s biggest move was the four-year, $27.5 million contract given to former Cowboy Jason Hatcher. His $9 million signing bonus is prorated over the contract’s four years, meaning its unlikely Hatcher is let go any time before 2017.

22. Arizona Cardinals

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $8.9 million

The Cardinals strengthened one of the league’s worst offensive lines with the signing of left tackle Jared Veldheer to a five-year contract worth $35 million. Because Veldheer’s 2015 dead money hit is greater than his 2015 cap hit, the $10.5 million in fully guaranteed salary that Veldheer received actually reads more like $13.5 million. Other notable moves include the signings of a couple of Ted’s (Larson and Ginn), as well as re-signing edge-rusher Matt Shaughnessy. The Cardinals are still around $9 million under the 2014 cap.

23. Tennessee Titans

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $8.8 million (figure doesn’t include the signing of Michael Oher)

Either the Titans weren’t very high on Alterraun Verner or Verner wasn’t high on Tennessee, as the cornerback skipped town fairly cheaply. I have not yet seen exact specifics on either Dexter McCluster or Michael Oher’s signing with the Titans, but it seems both players were overpaid. The media-stated $7.5 million that McCluster received in guarantees is a lot for a guy who’s neither a running back nor a wide receiver. And while Oher’s reported four-year, $20 million deal is fair valued for a right tackle, the fact that Ozzie Newsome made no attempt to resign Oher is a definite red flag.

The acquisition of free agent Wesley Woodyard was a low-risk move; the deal contains just $4.75 million in fully guaranteed money. As for the ongoing CJ?K drama, well it’s still ongoing. Johnson’s release would save the Titans $6 million against the 2014 salary cap.

24. Carolina Panthers

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $8.4 million (figure doesn’t include the signing of Roman Harper)

Dave Gettleman’s use of the $13.1 million defensive end franchise tag on Greg Hardy prior to free agency consumed the majority of Carolina’s free agent spending money. This series of events has put the Panthers in quite the tough spot.

Aside from the fact that the Panthers’ entire secondary has fled, their wide receiver depth chart reads as follows: Marvin McNutt, Dexter Washington, Tavares King, R.J. Webb, Kealoha Pilares, Toney Clemons, Brenton Bersin.

(One of the seven names on that list is a name I made up, and I’m not sure even Dave Gettleman could tell me which of the above is fake.)

After things went sour with Steve Smith, it was imperative for Gettleman to find a way to replace him with free agent Hakeem Nicks. Aside from the fact there was an obvious connection present (not only did Gettleman draft Nicks when with the Giants, but Nicks is from the Charlotte area and played his college ball at UNC), Nicks stated he was willing to take a one-year “prove it” deal (which he did, from Indianapolis). I understand why Nicks chose the Colts over the Panthers—Andrew Luck and the dome at Lucas Oil is more appealing from a value-rehabbing perspective than the run-heavy Panthers offense. But money talks, and Gettleman could have found a way to lure Nicks in.

With around $8 million in spending money before the recent signing of Roman Harper, Gettleman better act quickly if he plans on entering the draft with at least one NFL-caliber receiver on his roster.

25. Dallas Cowboys

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $7.7 million

If we’re all going to bash Jerry Jones for his perpetual cap mismanagement, then we’ve got to credit him when he does something right. While parting ways with DeMarcus Ware may have been a no-brainer due to the $7.4 million he saved Dallas against the 2014 cap, releasing a franchise cornerstone is never easy. Jones also designated Miles Austin as a June 1st cut.  While this will give the Cowboys needed flexibility to sign their incoming rookies when June 1st comes around, the downside is that Austin will still count for $5.236 million against the salary cap in 2015.

Dallas’ current cap situation isn’t enough for them to bring in any difference-making free agents (though you never know with Jones). However, they may have put themselves in a position to extend either Dez Bryant or Tyron Smith before their values inevitably increase.

26. Kansas City Chiefs

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $6.6 million

If you’re searching for a reason behind the Chiefs’ inability to keep their 2013 talent (Branden Albert, Tyson Jackson, Jon Asamoah, Geoff Schwartz and Dexter McCluster have all signed elsewhere in the first week of free agency), look at Kansas City’s past mismanagement of Dwayne Bowe.

Placing the franchise tag on Bowe in 2012 led to the receiver being vastly overpaid last offseason—his $56 million deal containing $20 million in guaranteed money made him one of the league’s top-5 highest paid receivers. Bowe isn’t worth that amount of coin to any team, but his salary-to-production value is diminished even further in Andy Reid’s West Coast offense led by check-down connoisseur Alex Smith.

Yet it’s the poor structure of Bowe’s contract that has made matters even worse. Due to leverage lost in negotiations dating back to the 2012 use of the franchise tag, Kansas City was forced to give the receiver a $15 million prorated signing bonus in his new deal. They also made his 2013 cap number just $3 million, meaning his cap hit in each of the final four years of the contract will be no less than $12 million. With a $16,250,000 dead money hit in 2014 that decreases to a still lofty $9 million in 2015, Kansas City can’t simply part ways with Bowe. Instead, they had to part ways with others.

27. San Francisco 49ers

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $4.4 million

After flirting with both Julian Edelman and Hakeem Nicks, the 49ers opted for some less sexy transactions.  San Francisco’s major moves were replacing free agent Donte Whitner with Antoine Bethea and trading for Richie Incognito-BFF Jonathan Martin. Never expected to be a major player in free agency, the tremendously talented 49ers have very little spending money. The offseason will be considered a success if they can sign Colin Kaepernick to a long-term extension before his value climbs higher than it already is.

28. Chicago Bears

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $4.2 million

Martellus Bennett apparently wasn’t persuasive enough in his quest to sway big brother Michael to the Windy City. So the Bears settled for Option B—Lamarr Houston. The Bears gave Houston $8.9 million in fully guaranteed money, but also guaranteed his 2015 base salary for injury, meaning this contract actually reads as at least a two-year deal worth $14.9 million. The small signing bonus and therefore small dead money hits associated with the deal suggest the Bears could cut Houston any time after 2015.

After accounting for the release of Julius Peppers (and his accompanying $8.3 million in dead money), the Charles Tillman re-signing, and the acquisitions of outsiders Domenik Hixon, M.D. Jennings and Willie Young, Chicago is just about out of spending money. Phil Emery must now use a loaded draft to plug in any roster holes.

29. San Diego Chargers

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $3.8 million

Up against the cap at the start of free agency, San Diego’s biggest acquisition was Donald Brown (three-year deal worth $10.5 million). Brown got $4 million in fully guaranteed money. San Diego’s past cap mismanagement—their $12.5 million in 2014 dead money is the sixth most in the league—is a contributing factor to their current cap struggles. Don’t expect them to compete for any of the top remaining free agents.

30. Pittsburgh Steelers

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $2.9 million

One of the more active executives in the days leading up to free agency, signing Jason Worilds to the $9,754,000 transition tag figure left GM Kevin Colbert in a tough spot.  However, he still found a way to acquire a difference-making free agent in former Panther safety Mike Mitchell. Mitchell’s five-year, $25 million contains just $5.25 in guaranteed money. He is due a $2 million roster bonus next March, which means there is at least a chance that this will only be a one-year deal given Pittsburgh’s tight cap scenario. The Steelers are now likely out of spending money for the rest of free agency.

31. Detroit Lions

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $2.6 million

GM’s on the hot seat don’t always exhibit rational thinking. So while Detroit's long-term cap scenario is unsettling for Lions fans, it is not Martin Mayhew's chief concern—he won’t be around to deal with the consequences if the Lions fail to make the playoffs in 2014. The signing of Golden Tate, whose $3.1 million 2014 cap hit gradually increases over the life of this deal, will only contribute to the Lions future cap issues. But Tate is a playmaker—the type of player who might save Martin Mayhew’s job.

After re-signing Brandon Pettigrew and bringing in former Redskin Darryl Tapp, Detroit has exhausted its 2014 spending money. Mayhew could create some more space by extending Ndamukong Suh, whose current 2014 cap number is a whopping $22,412,500.

32. New Orleans Saints

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $1.9 million

Have you ever really wanted something that you simply couldn’t afford, then impulsively said “screw it, I’ll figure it out later” before buying it anyways? Well that’s what Saints GM Mickey Loomis did with the signing of Jairus Byrd.

The Saints—who still have not locked up Jimmy Graham to a long-term contract—embody one of the NFL’s worst current cap situations. If Graham wins the grievance that he will reportedly file and ends up being paid the franchise number WR, the Saints will actually be over the 2014 cap. But they found a way to snag the play-making Byrd anyways, as Byrd’s 2014 cap hit is just $3.5 million.

This number jumps to $10.3 million in 2015, and remains in the $10 million per year cap hit range over the remainder of the deal. This means you can count on Byrd being a member of the Saints for a minimum of two years—it would be counterproductive for New Orleans to cut him after 2014 as they’d lose $4.5 million in cap room. If Byrd has a tremendous 2014, it’s possible that New Orleans will look to restructure this deal next offseason.

The Saints also created some extra 2014 cap room by extending Pierre Thomas and trading Darren Sproles. Although trading Sproles instead of simply releasing him outright didn’t net New Orleans any extra 2014 cap space, they did get an extra draft pick.

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