Eleven teams are at least $30 million under the NFL’s proposed salary cap of $120 million.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers lead the way at a whopping $59.2 million and will need to spend $47.2 million just to reach the new salary floor ($108M).
But will these teams spend all the money in free agency? Not necessarily.
If a team has a solid core of young players and has a ton of space under the cap, this may be the year to sign those guys to long-term deals.
Take Josh Freeman of the Bucs. Freeman has three years left on his five-year, $36 million contract, and is coming off one of the best seasons ever for a young quarterback. Now let’s say the Bucs want to lock him up through his peak years and give him a five-year, $50 million deal.
But, what if the Bucs give Freeman $25 million of that contract up front, and instead of making it a signing bonus, the Bucs make that his 2011 salary.
Freeman would love this because he gets a ton of guaranteed money up front in 2011 dollars. And the Bucs would love it because they have their franchise QB locked up long-term. And because he is taking $25 million this season, their franchise quarterback will only count $5 million against the cap each of the next five seasons giving the Bucs cap flexibility for years to come.
Or maybe the Bucs will just go out and give Nnamdi Asomugha $20 million.
There is a great deal of money out there to be spent. And with the free agent frenzy set to begin next week, some of it will be thrown in that direction. But don’t be surprised if several of these 11 team hold some money back to keep their teams strong for years to come.
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