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Tuesday, January 8, 2013
Updated look at NFC West cap situations

By Mike Sando

Salary-cap issues have assumed a lower profile in the NFL as teams have learned to better manage player salaries.

They still influence how teams operate, of course.

And in looking at the latest figures from ESPN's John Clayton, Seattle appears best positioned, at least initially, to operate freely from a cap standpoint in 2013. I use the word "initially" because cap situations can be fluid. Teams can often clear room quickly when necessary.

Clayton's latest mailbag notes that teams are managing a flatter cap by pushing unused space into the future. Seattle did this on a large scale in 2012, one reason the team has $18.6 million in space for 2013.

The chart shows St. Louis with $1.8 million in space. The Rams re-worked Steven Jackson's contract to move nearly $1.9 million in cap charges from 2013 into 2012. The change means Jackson's contract will not count against the cap in 2013 if the team releases him or if Jackson exercises an option to become a free agent.

Jackson is scheduled to earn $7 million in salary in 2013, the final year of his contract. His deal carried a $1.9 million annual cap charge stemming from the signing bonus he received years ago. The Rams chose to roll the 2013 portion of that charge into 2012. Any money Jackson earns in base salary for 2013 will still count against the cap, but only if he remained on the team and his contract remained the same.

The Arizona Cardinals, meanwhile, will have to clear some room to comply with the cap for the 2013 season.