Tennessee Titans: A Salary Cap Primer

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Jan 19, 2013; Fort Collins, CO, USA; Colorado State Rams student fan holds a sign in reference to need money from his mother during the second half against the UNLV Rebels at Moby Arena. The Rams defeated the Rebels 66-61. Mandatory Credit: Ron Chenoy-USA TODAY Sports

Salary Cap

Every year, the NFL sets a very specific figure called the salary cap. The 2013 figure was $123 million but was raised an unprecedented $10 million for 2014. The new $133 million figure allows teams a bit more flexibility in their spending, and you better believe they will take advantage.

On the surface, the salary cap sounds like it would simply be the sum of current player salaries. Unfortunately, there is a lot more that goes into it.

Depending on how their bonuses are structured, a player’s cap number can be significantly different from his actual base salary. For instance, New Orleans Saints franchise quarterback Drew Brees has a 2014 salary of $10.75 million, but his cap number is over $18 million.

While the 2014 salary cap is set at $133 million, each team has the ability to roll over their unused cap space from previous years, and adjustments are made for players who hit escalators in their contracts, earn bonuses, etc. For the 2014 Titans, it looks like this:

2014 Salary Cap                                 $133,000,000

Rollover from 2013                          +$   6,953,561

Adjustments made                         -$   (1,047,750)


Adjusted 2014 Cap                          $138,905,811

After figuring the cap space to work with, you must then figure up how much is committed to the top 51 salaries and the dead money from drops. Again, for the 2014 Titans, it looks like this:

Top 51 Contracts                              $128,431,833

Dead Money                                      $   2,449,725


Total Commitments                        $130,881,608

Subtract your total commitments from your total adjusted cap, and you get the amount of money your team has to work with. For the 2014 Titans, it looks like this:

$138,905,811                 –              $130,881,608                 =                $8,024,203

***All figures come from sportrac.com, overthecap.com, and USA Today