The worst teams in the NFL could be the biggest spenders in free agency

Oakland raidersJustin Sullivan/GettyJack Del Rio of the Oakland Raiders could be coaching an improved team in 2015.

The NFL’s collective bargaining agreement has a provision called the “minimum spend” that forces each team to pay 89% of the salary cap in cash.

According to Omar Kelly of the Sun-Sentinel, teams that fall below 89% of the cap have to pay the difference to the NFLPA.

This provision gives teams two choices: spend money on players to get to the 89% or pay the difference directly to the NFLPA. Owners would rather choose the former.

According to ESPN’s John Clayton, 10 teams enter the free agency period under the 89% mark, and of the 10, seven of them finished below .500 in 2014.

Two of the worst teams in the NFL in 2014, the Oakland Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars, are both well below the 89% mark. The Raiders will have about $US55 million in cap space this offseason while the Jaguars will have over $US66 million in cap space, according to Clayton.

For both teams, along with sub-.500 teams like the New York Jets and Giants, Washington Redskins, Carolina Panthers, and New Orleans Saints, this makes the demand to spend now even greater, especially with the cap rising to $US143.8 million this year.

There are notable elite players set to hit free agency next week, which could lead to some huge contracts from teams trying to meet the 89% figure. Players like Ndamukong Suh, Julius Thomas, and Demarco Murray could all be scooped away from their current teams by big offers. Players on a lesser tier could also see some overpays for their services from teams who missed on the bigger names.

This sort of situation is exactly what the NFLPA wants to see: competitive balance with teams who have equal spending power, and players getting a shot at big contracts.

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