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SALARY CAP : '06 figures ~ ~ ~


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2006 NFL Salary Cap Figures

January 5, 2006

For the sake of this installment, we have designated teams that are less than $5M under the cap in RED. These are teams that have little money to sign free agents and may need to make cuts or restructure salaries in order to sign all of their draft picks. Teams in BLACK, which are between $5M and $10M under the cap, are teams that look to be in pretty good shape in terms of adding more veterans and signing all of their rookies without having to take drastic measures. Teams in GREEN are teams that are well under the cap and should have plenty of room to sign free agents and rookies.

With the precise figure for the 2006 Salary Cap yet to be determined, we have received word that the cap is expected to be anywhere from $92 M to $95 M, which is a substantial increase over last year's $85.5 M figure. We have elected to go with a conservative $92 M estimate for now.

Keep in mind that these numbers are tentative at this early juncture. As we receive more information, we will update the estimates accordingly. These "unofficial" figures are approximate as of January 1, 2006.

Projected 2006 NFL Salary Cap Space for Each Team

Rank Team $ Under the Cap

1 Cleveland Browns $31 M

Considering the lack of star power in Cleveland it should come as no surprise that they are in excellent cap shape. With the well publicized front office discord that occurred at the conclusion of the season, it will be interesting to see if the team is willing to spend some money this off-season -- and if so, how will they spend it?

2 Arizona Cardinals $30 M

With all of the cap room the Cardinals have, the first thing they need to do is figure out what to do with their QB situation as both Josh McCown and Kurt Warner are set to become free agents. Of course, the Cardinals could decide to go in a different direction entirely.

3 Minnesota Vikings $24 M

Despite everything else that's gone wrong in the twin cities this year -- from ticket scalping to waving goodbye to Randy to taking trips on the love boat to watching an All Pro QB blow out his knee -- the Vikings continue to do a good job in managing their cap. With Tice gone, here's hoping that new head coach, Brad Childress, can convince ownership to spend some of that money on filling some holes -- and retaining some key free agents.

4 Green Bay Packers $22 M

The Packers are sure to endure one of the wildest off-seasons in the club's history. Will Brett Favre stay or will he go? There are a good 7 million reasons (or dollars) why he may want to come back. Even so, the Packers have plenty of cap room to bring him in some reinforcements along the OL and a quality (er, healthy) RB to boot.

5 San Diego Chargers $21 M

Give A.J. Smith credit for doing a better job of managing the cap than his mentor, the late John Butler, did. The Chargers have ample room to once again hang onto Drew Brees and Phil Rivers if they so choose.

6 Seattle Seahawks $21 M

If the Seahawks choose not to sign reigning MVP Shaun Alexander to a long term contract it won't be because they don't have the cap room to do it.

7 San Francisco 49ers $18 M

Remember when the Niners were in cap jail just a few years ago? Well, that is a thing of the past now thanks to cheap ownership. While the good news is that they won't be getting back into cap trouble, the bad news is that they are likely to be bogged down with a team loaded with inferior talent for years to come.

8 Jacksonville Jaguars $17 M

Much like the Bengals, the Jaguars are a quality young team with plenty of cap room to continue to improve the team's base corps.

9 Chicago Bears $17 M

Chicago, too, is following the trend we've seen set by good young head coaches who have placed their stamp on their teams by putting together a quality, a young roster. In case you haven't noticed, "young" also means "inexpensive".

10 Cincinnati Bengals $16 M

This number, includes Carson Palmer's contract extension, which paid out $15 M in guaranteed, up-front money and will pay him a base of $6.75 M in 2006. Clearly the Bengals, who made the playoffs this year for the first time in 15 years, have done a nice job bringing along their young talent -- and they appear to be financially strong enough to contend for a number of years.

11 St. Louis Rams $16 M

Whoever takes over for Mike Martz will at least inherit a healthy cap situation. Considering all of the holes that the Rams have to fill on defense, that money may not go as far as you think.

12 Baltimore Ravens $15 M

Despite all of the on-field problems that the Ravens had this year, they remain in good cap shape. The front office as led by Ozzie Newsome has been very prudent in not throwing too much cash at players. Case in point: only 13 players are scheduled to have a base salary exceeding $1 M. The Ravens have some questions to answer at RB, as both Jamal Lewis and Chester Taylor are set to become free agents.

13 Houston Texans $14 M

All indications are that GM Charlie Casserly will exercise the $8 M option to bring David Carr back in 2006. Maybe he should spend some of the leftover cap money on an offensive line that may be able to protect this investment.

14 Buffalo Bills $10 M

Underachieving RT (or is it LG?) Mike Williams is set to count about $10.8 M against the cap, as is veteran WR Eric Moulds. Look for the team to approach both players to take a paycut. Kudos to Robert Balistreri, who has done a master job of tracking the Bills' cap situation. Check out his excellent website here.

15 New Orleans Saints $10 M

There are so many question marks surround the poor New Orleans Saints, that we do not wish to add to that any further here. Whoever the new head coach is going to be will be inheriting a pretty good roster and a decent cap situation, which may even get better if the team elects to release Aaron Brooks, who is set to makeover $6M in base salary in 2006. The flip side of the coin is that the team has some quality free agents (such as Darren Howard) that they must try to re-sign.

16 Detroit Lions $9 M

Assuming the Fords do not cave to fan pressure and continue to mark time with Matt Millen, the Lions head into the off-season in pretty decent cap shape. Interestingly, the player set to receive the biggest series of paychecks in 2006 is none other than Joey Harrington, whose future with the team remains in doubt.

17 Philadelphia Eagles $7 M

Once each team's cap is properly adjusted to account for likely to be earned bonus money that was accounted for against the 2005 cap -- but never actually awarded to the player(s) -- you can fully expect the Eagles to have a great deal more cap room. After all, they've been playing this little trick for years. Also, it's no secret by now that they will be releasing TO in the coming weeks. Of course, with the unamortized portion of his original $10 M signing bonus escalating against the cap, that may not be a cap saver.

18 NY Giants $3 M

The Giants should have plenty of options when it comes to freeing up some cap space. For example, with so many big time skill position players, guess which player will have the highest base salary in 2006. Eli? Not even close. What about Tiki? Nope. Mike Strahan you ask? Wrong answer! Believe it or not, the NY Giant with the highest base salary heading into 2006 is Luke Petitgout!

19 Dallas Cowboys $2 M

The Cowboys learned the hard way how a once-proud championship team can crumble overnight due to the restrictions of the salary cap. They appear to be heading into 2006 in pretty good shape.

20 New England Patriots $0

The Patriots have done such a fantastic job picking late in the draft every year that they haven't had to rely on overpaying free agents. Bill Belichick also seems to have a nose for knowing when to release his high priced veterans at just the right time.

21 Indianapolis Colts $0

The Colts will once again have to make a decision about what to do with Edgerrin James. Since he's guaranteed to make 20% more than he did last year, it is highly unlikely that GM Bill Polian and the Colts will be able to absorb that price tag, as they are right at the projected cap marker. The question is whether or not they'll consider giving him a long-term contract.

22 Carolina Panthers $-1000000

If you recall, two years ago, right after the Panthers' Super Bowl season, they found themselves in some cap trouble. They took their medicine then -- and suffered through a tough 2004 season. A year later, they've managed to catapult back into the playoffs and have their cap situation in a manageable situation.

23 Pittsburgh Steelers $-4 M

The Steelers cap condition is not as bad as it appears. For example, all indications are that Jerome Bettis will be calling it quits at the end of this season. The Bus is scheduled to make a little over $5.35 M in base salary alone in 2006.

24 Miami Dolphins $-5 M

Yes, the Dolphins are projected to be a bit over the cap heading into 2006. However, it's a far cry from last season, where they were so far over that they had to go on a frenzy cutting veteran players. A few prudent moves should easily get them where they need to be, although we don't expect them to be highly active in free agency.

25 Tampa Bay Buccaneers $-8 M

The Bucs ended the regular season with the #1 defense in the NFL. Small wonder, then, that 6 of the 7 highest paid players on the team heading into 2006 play on the defensive side of the ball. That 7th player, Brian Griese, could very well become a cap casualty, considering the emergence of Chris Simms. Of course, the team must make a decision on Simms too, as he is set to become a restricted free agent in March.

26 Atlanta Falcons $-9.908 M

The Falcons have one of the best defensive front-sevens in the NFL -- and they pay dearly for it, as five of their top eight players are either linebacker or defensive linemen. In fact, their three highest paid players heading into 2006 are DL Patrick Kerney (almost $5 M base), LB Keith Brooking, and DL Roderick Coleman.

27 Tennessee Titans $-10 M

The poor Titans had to do so much house cleaning last year that they were left with a severely undermanned squad in 2005. From the looks of things, there will be more cost cutting to do in 2006.

28 Washington Redskins $-20 M

As usual the Redskins look to be one of the primary offenders heading into the new year. The team's tendency to rework contracts over and over again has made them a poster child for the "mortgage the future for today" mantra. A good case in point is Lavar Arrington, whose base salary in 2006 jumps from $545 K to $2 M. And that doesn't even count a huge roster bonus he is set to earn.

29 Kansas City Chiefs $-22 M

With the Chiefs in clear cap trouble, we find it interesting that the new head coach appears to be Herm Edwards, who just happens to be leaving the team with arguably the worst cap situation in the NFL.

30 Denver Broncos $-26 M

The Broncos were built to win in 2005 -- as their precarious cap situation heading into next season isn't pretty.

~ ~ ~ :? 31 NY Jets $-29 M

Obviously the Jets are really in bad shape here. If the team elects to keep Chad Pennington, they will have to fork over a $3M roster bonus. With a $6 M base salary -- and nearly $4M in this year's bonus proration -- they clearly cannot afford to keep him under the existing contract. However, it will cost them (cap-wise) about $10 M just to cut him. And they can forget about franchising John Abraham again. Expect the cost-cutting to begin soon. No wonder Herm Edwards wants to head to Kansas City!

32 Oakland Raiders $-30 M

Didn't we go through this drill last year, when the Raiders were in such bad cap shape that they almost couldn't afford to cut anybody? Last year Rich Gannon came to the rescue by reworking his contract to get the team under the cap -- and then retiring. Who will help out this year?

> http://www.askthecommish.com/salarycap/numbers.asp

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31 NY Jets $-29 M

Obviously the Jets are really in bad shape here. If the team elects to keep Chad Pennington, they will have to fork over a $3M roster bonus. With a $6 M base salary -- and nearly $4M in this year's bonus proration -- they clearly cannot afford to keep him under the existing contract. However, it will cost them (cap-wise) about $10 M just to cut him. And they can forget about franchising John Abraham again. Expect the cost-cutting to begin soon. No wonder Herm Edwards wants to head to Kansas City!

You guys better hope that Mangini makes this horrific cap situation his immediate priority.

If not, this will handcuff the Jets for years to come.

$64 million friggn' dollars for a QB who never has played a full season in the NFL? :shock:

That right there could be the biggest contract blunder in the NFL the past 5 years.

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This figure is not correct and is filled with all sorts of roster bonuses and other bonuses that can be spread out over years if the team elects to keep the player around. The bigger concern is the CBA which would hurt a lot of teams and not just the Jets.

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This figure is not correct and is filled with all sorts of roster bonuses and other bonuses that can be spread out over years if the team elects to keep the player around. The bigger concern is the CBA which would hurt a lot of teams and not just the Jets.

Mr Sherry is correct. The Jets cap situatiom is misrepped.

We have constraints but not the problems being portrayed.

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Mr Sherry is correct. The Jets cap situatiom is misrepped.

We have constraints but not the problems being portrayed.

Other then one bogus article floating around (and I'm sure you've read it) all other legitimate reports (ESPN, Sporting News Radio, NFL.com, etc.) have the Jets staring at a $28-$30 mil cap deficit.

But you can believe what you want. #-o

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This figure is not correct and is filled with all sorts of roster bonuses and other bonuses that can be spread out over years if the team elects to keep the player around. The bigger concern is the CBA which would hurt a lot of teams and not just the Jets.

sherry -

That is not exactly true. Team's can only spread bonuses out over so many years due to the CBA expiring. An article in a Boston paper said four.

Tex -

Smart thing for Mangini to do is do what Belichick did in 2000 with the Patriots cut the dead weight and get the Cap under control. It might suck next year, but they can bounce back quicker.

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sherry -

That is not exactly true. Team's can only spread bonuses out over so many years due to the CBA expiring. An article in a Boston paper said four.

Tex -

Smart thing for Mangini to do is do what Belichick did in 2000 with the Patriots cut the dead weight and get the Cap under control. It might suck next year, but they can bounce back quicker.

You are right on both accounts. I was not specific. But the Jets have 18 million in bonuses like the one that was given to Law that they can spred over up to 4 years unless a new CBA is in place. The other 10-15 million will be saved by making cuts which there will be plenty to make that will save the team cap dollars. Add that to a couple of restructures and the Jets will actually be in very good shape.

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Tex -

Smart thing for Mangini to do is do what Belichick did in 2000 with the Patriots cut the dead weight and get the Cap under control. It might suck next year, but they can bounce back quicker.

PFSIKH,

Hope all is well buddy.

Not sure if you had a chance to read some of my posts in other threads, but I have been advocating for Mangini to cut all the deadwood and bloated contracts (CuMar, PennyBoy, Fabini, Ellis, Kendall, Mawae, etc.) and get the cap situation under control immediately.

You can not build a solid foundation without the necessary cap room.

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