Tennessee Titans: A Salary Cap Primer

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Jan 14, 2014; Nashville, TN, USA; Tennessee Titans president and ceo Tommy Smith answers questions from the media regarding the selection process leading to the hiring of new head coach Ken Whisenhunt (not pictured) during the press conference at St. Thomas Sports Park. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports

After what felt like forever, the new league year has finally come. While some teams have been cutting players and clearing room for the future, other teams have primarily focused on re-signing their own free agents. As of Tuesday, March 11 at 4 P.M. EST, teams will be heavily involved in the free agent market.

You can expect the signings to come in waves. The top-tier free agents will be getting big money and big contracts out of the gate. After a small lull, the second-tier free agents will begin signing for slightly less money. Signings will likely continue all the way up to the draft.

As these NFL transactions are taking place, fans can become very confused about what the salary numbers actually mean. Even more confusing is the concept of ‘dead money’ – salary cap charges for players that are cut.

What follows is a primer for how the NFL salary cap works. In the coming weeks, I will be writing articles specific to new contracts and recent cuts involving the Tennessee Titans. Each move will be given a grade from 1 – 10, with a 10 being a great move from a salary perspective.

***Sportrac.com and overthecap.com were indispensable resources for this article.


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