With free agency less than a month away, teams are not only completing their own free agent list, they're assessing what outside free agents they can afford to bring aboard. With the 2014 cap number expected to be about $127 million, here is a preliminary list approximating the available cap room.
Thanks to contracts written that include incentives and escalators and expiring contracts that open up more cap space, some teams are scrambling to get under the cap by March 11 – the date free agency opens.
The Vikings are sixth in the league with almost $29 million available under the anticipated salary cap. Oakland leads the way with a whopping $63 million, followed by fellow also-rans Cleveland and Oakland. The highest cap space available by a playoff team is Indianapolis with $33.5 million available.
Here is the full list of teams in order of their projected salary cap space:
1. Oakland $63 million
2. Cleveland $56.9 million
3. Jacksonville $47.7 million
4. Indianapolis $33.5 million
5. Miami $32.6 million
6. Minnesota $28.9 million
7. Green Bay $28.1 million
8. Washington $24.9 million
9. Cincinnati $22.7 million
10. New York Jets $22.1 million
11. Philadelphia $20.7 million
12. Atlanta $19.2 million
13. Buffalo $19 million
14. Carolina $15.2 million
15. Tampa Bay $13.7 million
16. New York Giants $12.6 million
17. Baltimore $11.8 million
18. Arizona $11.6 million
19. Denver $11 million
20. San Francisco $6.7 million
21. Chicago $6.7 million
22. Tennessee $6.5 million
23. New England $6.1 million
24. New Orleans $3.7 million
25. Houston $3.2 million
26. Kansas City $2.4 million
27. St. Louis $1 million
28. Seattle $94,000
29. San Diego $881,000 over
30. Detroit $5.2 million over
31. Pittsburgh $10.6 million over
32. Dallas $24 million over
While free agency is open to everyone, it will be difficult for teams like the Cowboys, Steelers and Lions to have much, if any, maneuverability to sign outside free agents. Those teams will be scrambling to get players to restructure their contracts to create more cap space. It already started for the Lions with the release of WR Nate Burleson and S Louis Delmas. For the Vikings, the availability of cap space will allow them to compete for just about any free agent they want, but they are likely to remain true to the value they place on a player.
While the numbers will change as we get closer to free agency and teams make decisions to open up more cap space or re-sign their own free agents, one thing appears clear – when free agency opens, the Vikings will have as much or more money available to spend than all but a handful of teams.
John Holler has been writing about the Vikings for more than a decade for Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.
Vikings sitting pretty with salary-cap space
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