Sunday will see two of the final three games of the 2020 NFL season played when the Green Bay Packers host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFC Championship Game and the Buffalo Bills travel to Arrowhead Stadium to take on the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship Game. For the rest of the league attention has already begun to turn to free agency and the draft, and with the league likely set to see a significant decrease in the cap next season, cap space will be at a premium.
There has been no shortage of articles on the fact that several teams, such as the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles, will have significant work cut out for them as they look to come into compliance with the 2021 cap. Thus, with the new league year rapidly approaching in less than six weeks, one of the first orders of business in looking at the cap situation for any team starts with the amount the team rolled over from the prior season.
For those unfamiliar with rollover, as has been the case since the adoption of the 2011 CBA, cap space which a team opts not to utilize in a given season rolls over to the next league year. What that means for the Seattle Seahawks is that the $956,477 of unused 2020 cap space will carry forward into 2021. That might seem as though it could help the Hawks cap space this season, but relative to other teams across the league, it’s the second lowest amount of space being rolled over by any NFL team according to a tweet from Field Yates of ESPN.
A look at how much cap space each NFL team rolled over to 2021, from the Browns ($30,366,604) to the Ravens ($586,822).— Field Yates (@FieldYates) January 20, 2021
The NFL will audit these amounts after calculating incentives and cap credits from this year. The final amounts will be added to each team's cap for 2021. pic.twitter.com/cKen1bbgJ5
For those wondering about the accuracy of these numbers, Yates spent two seasons working for the Chiefs and interned with the Patriots multiple times, and through that experience he gained access to a source that appears to routinely provide him with official league cap space numbers.
Putting it all together, while fans are worried about the impending decrease in the salary cap, it appears as though teams across the league began preparing for a reduction in the salary cap during the 2020 season. It was less than a year ago that Kansas City had just $177 in available cap space for this past season, but they are now set to roll over $5,097,253 of cap space because of their willingness and ability to be aggressive and use creative structure in their contracts.
That aggressiveness and willingness to use creative structures could be key in determining which teams might be most competitive in the coming seasons, as the cap chaos could open the door for teams looking for short term success.