NFL Nation: 2013 salary cap

NFC South cap update

February, 13, 2013
We now are less than a month away from the start of free agency, which is when all teams have to be under the salary cap.

Two NFC South teams already are under, but two are well over a salary cap that’s expected to be a little more than $120 million. No division team has made any major releases or done much in the way of restructuring contracts this offseason, but that’s going to change in the coming weeks.

So, let’s take a look at what the NFC South teams currently have committed toward the 2013 salary cap. If these numbers look slightly different than some others you’ve seen floating around, it’s only because I’m using only the top 51 salary-cap figures for each team. Only the top 51 count during the offseason.

Atlanta Falcons. They’re at $118.8 million. That’s under the cap, but not by much. The team has to clear some room if it’s going to re-sign potential free agents Brent Grimes, Sam Baker and William Moore. Michael Turner and Dunta Robinson could be candidates for release or restructuring. Oh, by the way, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Falcons give quarterback Matt Ryan a contract extension, which also could free up some cap room.

Carolina Panthers. They’re sitting at $135 million. New general manager Dave Gettleman is in a tough spot. Veterans like Jon Beason, DeAngelo Williams and Chris Gamble appear to be prime candidates for release, trade, or restructuring.

New Orleans Saints. They have $141.6 million committed toward the cap. Veterans Jonathan Vilma, Roman Harper and Will Smith all have high cap figures and could be released or restructured.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They have the division’s best cap situation, thanks in large part to the restructures for Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks before last season ended. The Bucs will be players in free agency. But their first priority should be to re-sign potential free agents Michael Bennett and Roy Miller. They also might want to keep about $4 million available in case safety Ronde Barber decides he wants to return for another season.

Updated 2013 salary-cap space

January, 15, 2013
Now that carry-over space has been determined, let’s take a look at where each NFC South team is sitting in relation to the 2013 salary cap.

The cap won’t be set until just before the league year starts in March, but it is expected to be slightly more than $120 million. Two NFC South teams are well under the cap and two are way over it and will have plenty of work to do in the next two months.

Atlanta Falcons. After spending closer to the 2012 cap than any other team in the NFL, the Falcons were able to carry over only $307,540 in cap space. But they also were given a $1 million adjustment for reasons that aren’t clear. They’re sitting at $113 million with 48 players under contract for 2013. But that cap room could disappear quickly if they re-sign potential free agents Brent Grimes and Sam Baker.

Carolina Panthers. The team carried over $3.654 million in cap space, but the situation remains a mess. With 56 players under contract, the Panthers are sitting at $131.7 million. There’s no doubt new general manager Dave Gettleman will attempt to restructure some contracts, but he’s going to have to release some veteran players just to get under the cap.

New Orleans Saints. They were able to carry over $2.7 million. With 55 players under contract, they’re sitting at $140.2 million, the second-highest current figure. General manager Mickey Loomis will have to restructure contracts and there is little doubt the Saints will part ways with some veterans.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers. They’re in the best cap shape in the division. They carried over $8.5 million and also were given a $1.643 million adjustment. They likely will try to re-sign defensive end Michael Bennett, defensive tackle Roy Miller and a few other potential free agents. But the Bucs, who easily can free up an additional $7.75 million by releasing cornerback Eric Wright, still should have plenty of room to make some moves in free agency.

Looking at 2013 cap space

January, 1, 2013
With the 2012 regular season over, let’s take a look at where the NFC South teams stand in relation to the 2013 salary cap.

Atlanta Falcons: They have $113 million committed toward a cap that is expected to be slightly more than $120 million. Don’t expect a free-agent frenzy from the Falcons, because they could use most of their cap room to re-sign cornerback Brent Grimes and left tackle Sam Baker. The Falcons won’t be getting much help from carry-over money, because they finished the 2012 season a league-low $425,000 under the cap.

Carolina Panthers: The new general manager will have his work cut out for him, because the Panthers have about $136 million committed to the cap. That number could be knocked down a bit, because the Panthers had $3.5 million in remaining cap space for 2012. But Carolina still is going to have to make some tough decisions on veterans like Chris Gamble, Jon Beason and DeAngelo Williams.

New Orleans Saints: The Saints have the NFL’s second-highest amount committed toward the 2013 cap at $138.5 million. Only the Jets ($142 million) are higher. The Saints can carry over about $2.4 million in space. It’s going to be a very challenging offseason, because left tackle Jermon Bushrod can become a free agent and the Saints might have to part ways with or restructure the contracts of veterans like Jonathan Vilma, Will Smith, Roman Harper and others.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Thanks to some shrewd moves just before the end of the 2012 season, the Bucs are in the best cap shape of any team in the NFC South. After restructuring the contracts of Vincent Jackson and Carl Nicks, the Bucs are sitting at about $96.3 million. They also should add some space when carry-over amounts are factored in before free agency starts in March, because they finished the 2012 season $8.5 million under the cap. However, some of that cap space could be taken up before March, because several players are believed to have triggered escalator clauses in their contracts that have yet to be factored in, and the Bucs are likely to try to re-sign defensive end Michael Bennett and defensive tackle Roy Miller before they can depart as free agents. The Bucs also could free up $7.75 million if they release cornerback Eric Wright, whose guarantee of that amount in base salary was voided when he was suspended for violating the league's policy on performance-enhancing substances.


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