Exactly how much room a team has under the NFL's salary cap is always a hotly debated topic in the offseason. Which teams can spend money on free agents and which teams have to release players to get under the cap will have implications from now until June. A report today states that teams may have a lot more money to spend this year than expected.
Every offseason, the NFL and the NFL Players Association negotiate the exact amount at which to set the salary cap. It is based on the league's revenue from the previous season, expected gains in the next season, and can include negotiations on things like the salary cap penalties that were placed on the Dallas Cowboys and Washington Redskins over the past two seasons.
This year, the negotiations seem to be working in favor of the players, with the cap expected to make its largest jump since the new collective bargaining agreement was finalized in 2011. According to a league source who spoke to Pro Football Talk's Mike Florio, the salary cap could be "a 'few million' higher than $132 million." Last year's salary cap was $123 million, with Florio estimating that the cap could go as high as $135 million this year. That would mean a 9.78-percent increase year-to-year in the salary cap.
This would be great news for the Miami Dolphins, who are expected to have a salary cap number around $111 million, but also have multiple free agents to consider re-signing, as well as needing to bolster an offensive line decimated by injuries, poor play, defections, and suspensions last year. The team should have around $18 million to roll over from 2013 into the 2014 cap, meaning Miami should have around $40 million to spend this season - similar to the space they had prior to last year's spending spree.
The Dolphins likely will not spend in as flashy a manner this year as they did in 2013, bringing in wide receiver Mike Wallace, linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Philip Wheeler, cornerback Brent Grimes, and tight end Dustin Keller. This year's spending should be a more directed focus to bolster the offensive line and add depth to the team.
The extra space in the cap could also be used to eat the franchise tag if it is needed to keep Grimes, who is set to become a free agent, from hitting the market. Miami has until Monday to decide if they will utilize the one-year tag.
Added money to the salary cap means added options for the Miami Dolphins this season. And, that's exactly what the team needs.