Cardinals in bottom third of NFL in dead money

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With a hard salary cap in the NFL, teams must manage contracts and, sometimes, that leads to dead money.

The Arizona Cardinals have been a league leader in dead money in many seasons over the years. They are not this year.

According to Touchdown Wire’s rankings of all 32 teams and their dead money in 2022, the Cardinals rank only 23rd.

They have more than $10.3 million in dead money counting against the cap.

What is dead money?

It is a charge to the salary cap for money already paid to a player in the form of a bonus that had a prorated cap hit, or it is money that must be paid in guaranteed money.

For example, if a player signs a five-year contract and is given a $10 million signing bonus, the cap hit of that bonus is spread out over the five years — or $2 million per year. If a player is traded or cut before the end of his contract, the balance of the uncharged cap hit is counted toward the current year’s cap.

If a player is cut and has fully guaranteed salary due, the team must still pay the salary counts toward the cap. If traded to another team, the old team is not charged for the guaranteed salary because the new team is responsible for it.

In the case of a player being cut and the signing bonus charge is added to the cap, it is not a scenario where a team is paying a player not to be on the roster, the dead money is the salary cap charge for the money the team already paid and did not have count yet.

The Cardinals’ biggest dead money charge comes from defensive tackle Jordan Phillips. He was released in March and counts more than $3.3 million against the cap this year because of his signing bonus and a restructure bonus he received.

He was designated as a post-June cut.

The Cardinals will carry a total of more than $9.2 million in cap charges from his bonuses he received. But as a post-June 1 designation, only this year’s proration will count in 2022 and the remaining amount will be charged in 2023.

The NFL leader in dead money is the Atlanta Falcons with more than $63 million in dead money. More than $40 million comes from trading quarterback Matt Ryan.

The New York Jets have the smallest dead money total at almost $2.1 million.

The Cardinals will add more dead money when final cuts come and might have more relatively soon. Center Rodney Hudson has not reported to the team this year. If he were to retire or be traded, they would add $1.76 million in dead money.

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