Keeping an eye on the salary cap

February, 13, 2012
2/13/12
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The start of free agency is just about a month away and that’s when teams will have to be under the $120 million salary cap.

With that in mind, let’s take one of our periodic looks at where each NFC South team stands in terms of what it has committed to the 2012 salary cap since there's been a little change in some of the numbers recently. We’ll use figures for the top 51 cap numbers for each team because that’s what will be used from the start of the league year until just before the regular season starts and all cap numbers start to count.

The Carolina Panthers remain above the cap and obviously have some work to do. After signing long-snapper J.J. Jansen to a four-year contract last week, the Panthers are sitting at $128.1 million.

The New Orleans Saints, who are trying to get a deal done with quarterback Drew Brees and hope to follow that up with new contracts for guard Carl Nicks and receiver Marques Colston, are at $102.2 million and likely will have to release some veterans or restructure some contracts to make everything fit under the cap.

The Atlanta Falcons are at $100.4 million. They have a few free agents they want to keep, starting with linebacker Curtis Lofton and cornerback Brent Grimes. But the Falcons have enough room that they should be able to make some moves in free agency.

This may come as a shock to fans, who like to rip on Tampa Bay for being frugal. But the Bucs only have a slight bit more cap room than the Saints and Falcons. The Bucs are at $98.6 million and should be over $100 million by the start of the league year because they’re likely to re-sign a few of their own free agents. Still, the Bucs have room to make a little noise in free agency.

Pat Yasinskas | email

ESPN Tampa Bay Buccaneers reporter

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