The salary cap for the 2016 NFL season will be close to $12 million greater compared to last year.
The first day of NFL free agency is set for March 9; teams can begin contacting unrestricted free agents at 4 p.m. ET (via Raiders.com).
When that time comes, the Jacksonville Jaguars will have the most cap space available at just over $74.5 million. Right behind the Jaguars are the Oakland Raiders, who will have just over $74 million to spend.
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The Baltimore Ravens will enter the new year with the least available cap room at approximately $6.4 million. They hope that number will increase if an agreement can be reached with quarterback Joe Flacco on restructuring the final two years of his $120.6 million deal he signed after leading the Ravens to a victory in Super Bowl XLVII, per Jeff Zrebiec of the Baltimore Sun.
This will be the third straight season the NFL salary cap has increased by eight figures. Since the 2011 NFL lockout was lifted, the salary cap has risen nearly $35 million in the last four years.
|NFL Salary Cap: Since 2011 Lockout|
|2013||$123 million||$2.4 million|
|2014||$133 million||$10 million|
|2015||$143.28 million||$10.28 million|
|2016||$155.27 million||$11.99 million|
A nearly $12 million increase could be a major factor in how teams address their free agents. The Carolina Panthers, for example, could have close to $30 million in cap space and could possibly have more money to sign defensive back Josh Norman to a long-term extension—a topic of discussion, per ESPN's David Newton.
Super Bowl 50 MVP Von Miller will also be on the open market, and the Denver Broncos have about $12.3 million in cap space. That figure could increase for the Super Bowl champions depending on Peyton Manning. Manning has a cap hit of $21.5 million next year, and he has until March 9 to decide whether to retire and whether that figure will count against Denver's cap.
Teams can't make any agreements with free agents until early March, but at least they can begin planning for the long offseason ahead now that they know what the cap situation is.