David Richard/Associated Press
With the final NFL cap number coming in at $133 million, we can now see exactly what teams have to spend in free agency. Jason La Canfora of CBSSports.com wrote Wednesday that the Browns have around $30 million in cap space to use.
That number does not reflect players who will be cut, restructured deals or contract extensions. It also does not reflect the release of wide receiver Davone Bess. According to Mary Kay Cabot of The Cleveland Plain Dealer, the Browns are off the hook for Bess’ $3.06 million salary in 2014:
Any way you slice it, the Browns have a ton of space to work with and could be heavy hitters in free agency. It will be interesting to see just how much money they end up spending. Teams who have an eye to the future never spend all their money because that can hurt them in coming years.
The Browns will be active in free agency but not to the level that some may anticipate. Owner Jimmy Haslam has repeatedly said that he wants to build this franchise through the draft. The Browns have 10 picks, including three in the first 35, and will likely use those to fill holes rather than spend lavishly in free agency.
I expect the Browns to get long-term deals done with center Alex Mack and cornerback Joe Haden and then use free agency to build depth on the roster. Head coach Mike Pettine told Daryl Ruiter of 92.3 The Fan in Cleveland that the team will spend but will spend wisely.
“You never want to be that team that kind of goes out there and is into those super big contracts day 1,” he said.