2011 NFL Free Agency: 5 Teams in the Worst Salary Cap Situations

Barrett HansenAnalyst IIAugust 5, 2011

2011 NFL Free Agency: 5 Teams in the Worst Salary Cap Situations

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    The new CBA has left some teams, like the Oakland Raiders, in a terrible salary cap predicament.

    While teams recognize that they need to stay beneath the salary cap, they cannot help but try to improve the team as much as possible, and often end up several million dollars above the maximum payroll.

    Here are the five teams with the worst salary cap situations less than a day away from the cap deadline.

5. New York Jets

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    Like many franchises from the Big Apple, the New York Jets figure to be very top-heavy in 2011.

    Big names Mark Sanchez, Darrelle Revis, Santonio Holmes and David Harris highlight a Jets team that will look to go deep in the postseason once again in 2011.

    The biggest question is whether the organization can accrue enough depth to withstand the wear and tear of an NFL season.

    Right now the answer appears to be no, as the Jets have just about $4 million left of cap space after finalizing the ridiculous $50 million Santonio Holmes deal.

    New York will have to scour the free agent market looking for deals to fill out their roster.

4. Pittsburgh Steelers

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    The Pittsburgh Steelers are reportedly $8.6 million over the salary cap going into the final day of salary maneuvering.

    Pittsburgh has spent this past week scrambling to get under the $120.4 salary cap figure—the team frantically restructured several veteran contracts, including that of star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger

    Steel City's potent defense clogs up running lanes like nobody's business and are now taking up quite a bit of space on the payroll. 

    For the defending AFC Champion Steelers, letting defensive stars walk away is unacceptable. The Rooneys are doing the best the can to keep as many players around as they can.

    Even that has proven a challenge, as offensive tackles Flozell Adams and Max Starks have already parted with the team.

    Expect to see a lot of the same faces in Pittsburgh next season—they can't afford to bring anybody else in.

3. Dallas Cowboys

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    The Dallas Cowboys were in a bit of a predicament from the get-go, starting the free agent signing period already $18 million over the cap.

    Dallas has already cut starters Roy Williams, Marion Barber, Marc Colombo and Leonard Davis to lower their costs, but still have $6.6 million more to go before they're in the clear.

    Jerry Jones is expected to restructure the contracts of stars Tony Romo, DeMarcus Ware and Miles Austin to get under the cap, but the team will presumably have little or no money to spend on free agency.

    For a team that finished 6-10 last year, being cash-strapped makes it pretty tough to have hope for the upcoming season.

2. Houston Texans

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    After a signing spree that included inking cornerback Jonathan Joseph to a five-year, $48.75 million deal, the Houston Texans find themselves $8.5 million above the cap.

    Houston undoubtedly had some holes to fill—no team that has failed to make the playoffs in nine straight seasons doesn't. As a result, general manager Rick Smith deserves some credit for addressing his team's biggest need immediately.

    That said, the front office did not do itself any favors dropping nearly $10 million a year on a single defensive back—it will take more than one marquee signing to fix the 2010's 32nd ranked passing defense.

    Receiver Andre Johnson, inside linebacker DeMeco Ryans and defensive end Antonio Smith have all restructured their deals for the team's sake, but it might not be enough—to make the playoffs, Houston will have to emerge from the always tightly-contested AFC South, a feat they won't be able to accomplish without a complete team.

1. Oakland Raiders

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    With their crazy owner Al Davis, the Oakland Raiders are constantly in some sort of quagmire.

    Davis is renowned for making the most boneheaded personnel moves, most notably taking kicker Sebastian Janikowski in the first round of the 2000 draft, and recently passing up Michael Crabtree for fleet-footed, yet board-handed receiver Darius Heyward-Bey.

    Oakland begins the final day of cap negotiations more than $15 million over the limit, a staggeringly high figure for a team that didn't even make the playoffs last season, and has few noteworthy stars on their roster.

    Richard Seymour is a guy who Davis might target to alleviate some pressure on the team. The veteran will most likely be agreeable, as he cashed in big time by signing a two-year, $30 million deal before his age-32 season. 

    But still, $15 million is heck of a lot of money to make up in less than 12 hours. Leave it to the Raiders to put themselves in that position.