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As of today, the Lions have 49 players signed to their active roster — they’re allowed up to 90 players in the offseason — accounting for roughly $183.4 million in total cap expenditures, per OverTheCap.com‘s estimate.
What’s the league’s established salary cap for 2021?
Well, unfortunately, we don’t know at this time.
The league’s salary cap is determined based on profit/loss from the previous season and with the COVID-19 pandemic impacting the league’s profitability, the salary cap is expected to see a significant drop.
This past July, the NFL and NFLPA reached an agreement on an addendum to the collective bargaining agreement. Within that document, it was agreed upon that in order to soften the impact from the 2020 losses in revenue, the NFL would spread the losses out over a four year period (2021-2024).
Additionally, they set a floor for the 2021 salary cap at $175 million — over $23 M lower than last season.
If the cap is at $175 M, are the Lions already over?
No, this is where the rollover money will be used.
If the salary cap is set at $175 M, the Lions can now add an additional $12.8 M in cap space above the established amount, allowing them to spend up to $187.8 M.
That means they would have $4.4 M in available space.
That may seem like a shocking number, but per OverTheCap.com, the Lions are right at the league average, having the 17th most cap space entering the 2021 offseason.
Is $175 M a firm number?
No. If the 2020 losses weren’t as great as anticipated, then the 2021 cap could see an increase. The league is also looking at ways to generate additional revenue — like adding a 17th regular-season game — to also help offset the losses.
Some reports have suggested the established amount will be closer to $180 million and could reach as high as $195 M if negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA are reopened.
If either of those things happens, the Lions would see a boost of an additional $5-20 M in available spending room.
Are there other ways the Lions can increase cap space?
Absolutely, and with a new general manager in place, it’s almost a certainty that roster cuts will be made.
Brad Holmes is going to take a thorough look at the Lions roster may find several contracts he deems unacceptable. Cutting players comes at a cost, as cap hits can hurt a team’s ability to maneuver — but then again, so does carrying bad contracts.
What’s the bottom line?
The Lions currently sit around the mid-point in available funds, but that number is surely going to increase as cuts are made — which could propel them into the top-10 of teams with available cap space.
Among the NFC North teams, the Lions are actually in the most comfortable spot. The Vikings, Bears, and Packers are all over the allotted cap amount (even factoring in their rollover money) and will be likely forced to make cuts of their own.
Here’s a look at every team’s rollover allotment for 2021:
A look at how much cap space each NFL team rolled over to 2021, from the Browns ($30,366,604) to the Ravens ($586,822).
The NFL will audit these amounts after calculating incentives and cap credits from this year. The final amounts will be added to each team's cap for 2021. pic.twitter.com/cKen1bbgJ5
— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 20, 2021