ChatWrap: Challenging salary cap figures

For the sake of transparency, I wanted to pass along and enhance an important exchange from Tuesday's SportsNation chat about the salary cap numbers we've been discussing for the past few weeks.

VWCAU (Minneapolis)

Kevin, There seems to be a lot of misinformation floating around with regards to cap figures. A few Lions fans say that you and all the other media are referencing the same source that is wrong. Care to comment on this and your source of info for cap related stuff?

Kevin Seifert (2:47 PM)

It's not "misinformation." I've been pretty clear from the start that salary cap figures fluctuate, sometimes on a daily basis, this time of year. The numbers we used last week will absolutely change by the time free agency begins. But in the case of the Lions, I am 100 percent certain that Calvin Johnson has a huge cap number, and that it will be around $22 million for 2012. I'm also 100 percent certain that the Lions will be very tight against the cumulative cap number, which is projected to be around $120 million, give or take a few. People are looking for precise and set-in-stone numbers when in fact they don't exist at this moment.

VWCAU is right. Depending on the website and the day, you'll see different salary cap numbers associated with various teams. That could be the result of dated or newly-updated calculations, which change regularly based on teams restructuring contracts or reconciling past bonuses. It's important not to fixate on the exact number, but what it tells us about the team's potential approach to the offseason.

Whether the Lions land at $120 million, $121 million or even $123 million, the point is they are tight against the cap. And whether the Chicago Bears have $20 million or $25 million in cap space, we can assume in any case that they'll have the flexibility to get done what they want to get done this offseason.

I understand the skepticism when this information comes from the media rather than official sources. But the NFL doesn't release salary cap information to the media or the public at large. So we need to use other means to bring the information to light. I believe in the accuracy and, just as important, the meaning of these numbers, and I'm asking you to as well.