Among the many unknowns of the 2011 offseason, the salary cap might rank atop the list. No one knows for sure if there will be a salary cap moving forward. If there is one, it's not clear what that figure might be, what rules will apply and how many years of service free agents will need to switch teams.
With all of that said, it's worth passing along the numbers recently published by NFC South colleague Pat Yasinskas. Below you'll see how much cap space each NFC North team has committed to for 2011 under the NFL's rules in the last year it operated under a cap system (2009). Keep in mind that the 2009 salary cap was about $130 million.
Green Bay Packers: $129.8 million
Detroit Lions: $113.8 million
Minnesota Vikings: $108.4 million
Chicago Bears: $104.9 million
According to Yasinskas, the average NFL team has committed just under $100 million for 2011.
I want to caution against reading too much into these numbers. They don't necessarily mean that the Packers will have to cut players to sign their draft class, and they don't suggest the Bears will have room to go hog wild if they want. They just give us an approximation of each team's standing if the NFL returns to its previous cap system.