With the news that the NFL salary cap could be significantly reduced next season, every team is going to be squeezed to get under the cap while also attempting to retain their key contracts.
While some estimates have speculated it could drop as much as $70 million, Benjamin Allbright said on KOA Radio the other night that it’s more than likely going to be around $40 million, at the most. However, this still poses problems for most of the NFL as teams intentionally backload their contracts anticipating the salary cap to be larger in subsequent years, not smaller.
Joe Rowles and I dig deep into this topic on this week’s episode of Cover 2 Broncos and walk through all the possible scenarios and ways Denver can approach it.
Currently, the Broncos sit at $159 million total cap liabilities for 2021, according to Over the Cap, and since they haven’t signed this year’s rookie class, those numbers aren’t yet on the books so you can probably bump that number up to around $170 million that Denver will be on the hook for.
In a normal year, that’s sitting pretty good. This year’s total salary cap for teams (excluding rollovers) was $198 million. If you take the estimates of a $40 million reduction from that number, it would put you at roughly a $160 million salary cap for 2021, if it’s all taken in one year.
Add in the fact that Denver will need roughly another $10 million to sign next year’s incoming rookie class, and the Broncos are already projecting as over the potential reduced cap by $20 million, and still would need to sign Justin Simmons, and replace the departing free agents such as Garrett Bolles, Shelby Harris, Todd Davis, and Mike Purcell.
Now this isn’t intended to be totally doom-and-gloom. We’re still not sure exactly what it will look like, and the reduction may end up being mitigated by the league and NFLPA coming to an agreement on some form of pro-ration, where they’re able to reduce the cap by smaller portions over the next few years, instead of ripping off the band-aid in one really difficult year.
And Denver is a team with a quarterback on a rookie salary, things look even worse for team like the Kansas City Chiefs, the Dallas Cowboys, and the Philadelphia Eagles who would probably just need to forfeit next season if the cap reduced by that much.
It’s not a fun topic to discuss or think about, as it seemed as though Denver was geared up to really be able to take advantage of Lock’s rookie deal to continue to surround him with top tier talent - which still may be able to take place.
Even if the cap stays flat or reduces slightly, teams will have to tighten their belts, and Denver is at least in a position where they have a lot of flexibility with the acquisitions of Jurrell Casey and A.J. Bouye being via trade instead of free agent deals with lots of guaranteed money, and their starting quarterback being the 15th highest paid player on the team next year.
Take a listen to our conversation and let us know your thoughts below on what you would do if you were Denver, and your prediction to how this will affect both the Broncos and the rest of the league.