A Look at Every Team's Cap Situation Heading into Start of NFL Free Agency

Gary Davenport@@IDPSharksNFL AnalystMarch 4, 2020

A Look at Every Team's Cap Situation Heading into Start of NFL Free Agency

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    The 2020 NFL Scouting Combine has come and gone. Next up on the league calendar is an event that fans look forward to annually: the free-agent feeding frenzy, where dozens of players switch teams and hundreds of millions of dollars change hands.

    Of course, free agency isn't created equal for all 32 teams. The biggest reason for that is simple—some franchises have a lot more to spend than others.

    That's as true in 2020 as in any other year. With the salary cap projected to come in around $200 million, five NFL teams have over $75 million with which to keep their own free agents and add new faces to the roster.

    Conversely, three teams presently have less than $5 million to work with—less than it costs the average team to sign its own draft class, let alone anyone else. For those clubs, tough decisions loom.

    With the March 12 deadline to apply the franchise tag to players getting closer by the day and the "legal tampering" period opening just a few days after, here's a look at the current salary-cap situation of all 32 teams—from the brokest of the broke to the flushest of the flush.


    Looking for a complete 2020 free agency preview? The Stick to Football crew has you covered in their latest episode. Check it out here

32. Minnesota Vikings: $1.38 Million

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    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

    The good news for the Minnesota Vikings is that when veteran defensive end Everson Griffen opted out of his contract, it got the team into the black relative to the projected 2020 salary cap of $200 million.

    The bad news is…everything else.

    It's not just that with less than $1.5 million in wiggle room, the Vikings are in no position to be a player when free agency opens. They are also going to be hard-pressed to find the cash to bring back their own free agents. In addition to Griffen, cornerback Trae Waynes and safety Anthony Harris are about to hit the open market. Harris is likely going to command a pretty penny after piling up six interceptions in a breakout 2019 campaign.

    The Vikings can create additional cap space by cutting/trading/restructuring a high-priced veteran (cornerback Xavier Rhodes' name has come up more than once) and/or extending quarterback Kirk Cousins.

    But if Minnesota is going to improve the roster in the hopes of another playoff run, it's likely going to come through the 2020 NFL draft.

31. Pittsburgh Steelers: $1.58 Million

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    Christian Petersen/Getty Images

    The Pittsburgh Steelers will be getting at least one major addition that won't cost the team anything against the salary cap—provided that quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's elbow is 100 percent when Week 1 rolls around.

    That's about the extent of the good news in the Steel City.

    With only about $1.6 million in cap space, the Steelers are going to need to clear some salary just to have enough cash to sign the draft class—and that's after sending their first-round pick to Miami in the Minkah Fitzpatrick trade.

    Even then, the Steelers are going to have a difficult time keeping in-house free agents like defensive tackle Javon Hargrave and edge-rusher Bud Dupree in the fold. Both are coming off career years and play positions that can command fat paydays on the open market.

    ESPN's Jenna Laine reported from the combine that Dupree is a candidate for the franchise tag. But that's going to mean clearing cap space. Quite a bit of it, in fact.

    A number of veterans in Pittsburgh could find themselves cap casualties in the next couple of weeks, including guard Ramon Foster, inside linebacker Mark Barron and tight end Vance McDonald.

30. Atlanta Falcons: $4.32 Million

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    Jonathan Bachman/Getty Images

    The Atlanta Falcons are a franchise on the edge. After an atrocious first half of the 2019 season, a 6-2 second half was enough to save head coach Dan Quinn's job. But just a few years removed from a berth in the Super Bowl, the seat under Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff is pretty warm.

    Atlanta doesn't have an easy go of it this year relative to the salary cap with under $5 million in space. The team could clear more room by releasing a veteran like tailback Devonta Freeman. Owner Arthur Blank allowed to ESPN's Vaughn McClure that some tough decisions loom:

    "The salary cap is not unlimited. It seems like it's unlimited, but it's not. And the investments we have made -- which have been very, very substantial with a wide variety of players on both sides of the ball -- have been significant. So personnel, and coach, and [team president] Rich McKay, they'll be looking at everything and making sure we're making investments in the right areas based on what the roster has to look like going forward."

    The Falcons have already said they will not bring back edge-rusher Vic Beasley Jr., but decisions still need to be made regarding the likes of tight end Austin Hooper and linebacker De'Vondre Campbell.

29. New Orleans Saints: $9.32 Million

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    Butch Dill/Associated Press

    The New Orleans Saints have work to do.

    As things stand right now, the Saints have $9 million and change in cap space. That wouldn't be too bad, were it not for a few small problems.

    First, there's the matter of Drew Brees' free agency. From all indications, the greatest player in franchise history will be back in 2020. But the odds that he's going to play the season for $9 million are…not good.

    Then there are the other free agents the Saints have to make a decision on—a list that isn't short. Safety Vonn Bell. Cornerback Eli Apple. Quarterback Teddy Bridgewater. There's just not enough cash to go around—especially with the Saints virtually certain to tender restricted free agent Taysom Hill as well.

    And then there's tailback Alvin Kamara, who is entering the final year of his rookie deal. The possibility that Kamara will hold out if he doesn't get a huge raise is a real one—and the Saints don't have the wiggle room to give him that raise.

    At least not yet.

28, San Francisco 49ers: $13.11 Million

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    John Hefti/Associated Press

    The San Francisco 49ers are paying the price for success in 2020.

    The Niners came up just short of winning Super Bowl LIV, but now the bill has come due. With around $13 million in cap space, the team is running low on available cash. It also has a few prominent in-house free agents to contend with.

    Defensive lineman Arik Armstead will likely command well over $10 million a season after finally living up to his first-round draft status last season. Defensive back Jimmie Ward's versatility should make him a valuable commodity on the open market. Veteran wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders and Pro Bowl fullback Kyle Juszczyk are also set to hit free agency.

    There's a lot more money in total contracts sitting on that list than San Francisco has to spend—and that's without considering outside signings. Even if the team cuts underperforming veterans like running back Jerick McKinnon to free up more room, the resources aren't there for the reigning NFC champions to be a tone-setting team in free agency.

27. Kansas City Chiefs: $13.67 Million

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    Steve Luciano/Associated Press

    Free agency hasn't even started yet, and Kansas City's salary-cap space is already gone.

    The Super Bowl champions reportedly intend to franchise-tag defensive lineman Chris Jones, a move that will cost them more than the $13.7 million they have under the cap. The move doesn't sit especially well with the 25-year-old, who told Fox Sports' Colin Cowherd he has "mixed emotions" (h/t Arrowhead Pride).

    "There's no hard feelings. It's the business," Jones said before adding: "It's a little hard. It's like, 'Damn, what else y'all want me to do? I gotta go out and get 30 sacks, 35 sacks to show y'all I can...you know?'"

    The Chiefs need to make some difficult decisions just to clear enough room to tag Jones and sign their rookie class. Any free agents that join the team in 2020 will likely come from the bargain bin.

    Especially as a historic extension for MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes looms over the franchise.

26. Los Angeles Rams: $14.79 Million

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    Kyusung Gong/Associated Press

    The Los Angeles Rams have spent the past couple of seasons firmly entrenched in "win now" mode. In 2018, that paid off with a berth in Super Bowl LIII. In 2019, however, the Rams missed the postseason altogether.

    The massive contracts the Rams handed out to the likes of quarterback Jared Goff and tailback Todd Gurley II have also put the team in a tight spot relative to the salary cap. Los Angeles has less than $15 million available with several major contributors set to hit free agency.

    Left tackle Andrew Whitworth may not be the player he once was, but the Rams don't have much of a plan of succession behind him. Edge-rusher Dante Fowler Jr. is coming off a career year with 11.5 sacks. Inside linebacker Cory Littleton led the team with 134 total tackles in 2019.

    Oh, and cornerback Jalen Ramsey is entering a contract year. And the trade that brought Ramsey to L.A. cost the Rams their first-round pick in 2020.

    Other than that, though, everything's fine.

25. Chicago Bears: $16.64 Million

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    Andy Clayton-King/Associated Press

    After going 12-4 and winning the NFC North two years ago, the Chicago Bears suffered through a miserable 2019 campaign.

    It now appears the Bears are at a crossroads with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky. According to ESPN's Jeremy Fowler, they are expected to pursue a veteran signal-caller to "push" Trubisky.

    That's going to put them in quite the financial crunch.

    The Bears are already on a fairly tight budget with less than $17 million under the cap. Even a middling backup quarterback would eat up half that cash. One with starter's experience would cost most (if not all) of it.

    That puts the team in a real bind. Chicago has at least three defensive starters set to hit free agency in safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, cornerback Prince Amukamara and inside linebacker Danny Trevathan.

    It's not going to be easy for the Bears to keep from taking a step backward talent-wise on that side of the ball—especially if Chicago really is serious about adding competition for Trubisky.

24. Green Bay Packers: $20.46 Million

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    Mike Roemer/Associated Press

    Not that many years ago, it didn't matter how much wiggle room the Green Bay Packers had under the cap. With a few exceptions, Ted Thompson was notorious for being frugal when it came to bringing in big-name outsiders.

    However, Brian Gutekunst has shown no such reluctance to spend money. He dished out a ton last year to overhaul the team's pass rush.

    A repeat spending spree won't be as easy. Green Bay's $20.5 million in cap space isn't the biggest free-agent bankroll, and the team has players of its own to consider, like leading tackler Blake Martinez and offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga.

    If the Packers re-sign those players, that cap space will be gone—and then some. If they don't, a substantial portion of it will have to be spent acquiring replacements.

    Adding a wide receiver to complement Davante Adams may have to wait for the 2020 draft.

    Free agency is going to be more about treading water in Titletown.

23. Jacksonville Jaguars: $21.43 Million

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    Michael Conroy/Associated Press

    The Jacksonville Jaguars will ship veteran cornerback A.J. Bouye to the Denver Broncos after the 2020 league year opens, according to ESPN's Adam Schefter. The move will net Jacksonville over $11 million in cap relief and a fourth-round pick.

    But that money won't come off the books for a few weeks.

    In 2019, the Jaguars dished out one of free agency's biggest contracts to Nick Foles, whom they hoped would be their quarterback of the future.

    They can only hope 2020 treats them better than that boondoggle has.

    The Jaguars face a similarly expensive call this spring. They are reportedly set to slap the franchise tag on edge-rusher Yannick Ngakoue, who amassed 37.5 sacks in four seasons. That didn't go over well with the 24-year-old.

    "The Jaguars are aware I no longer have interest in signing a long term contract in Jacksonville," Ngakoue wrote on Twitter. "Duval, I love you and gave you guys everything I got. I’m thankful for the journey and look forward to continuing my career elsewhere."

    It appears that a tag-and-trade scenario is likely, and the Jaguars will be motivated to get a deal done soon. Ngakoue's franchise tag will decimate the team's cap space...even after the Bouye trade.

22. Baltimore Ravens: $30.74 Million

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    Nick Wass/Associated Press

    Baltimore head coach John Harbaugh is proud of what the franchise has accomplished in this era of roster turnover, as he told reporters in January:

    "We have had some things that we have had to work against, salary cap-wise and roster-wise and things like that. Guys have left in free agency, those kinds of things. I think we have done a remarkable job of building this team to where it is right now. I am really proud of what we have been able to do, on the personnel side and the coaching-scheme side. What we have been able to build with the guys that we have had and get the most out of our players [is impressive]."

    It's going to take some more savvy roster management to keep the momentum going from last year's 14-2 season. The team isn't without resources—over $30 million in cap space. But there are also potential holes to fill if edge-rusher Matthew Judon (who led the team in sacks) and inside linebacker Patrick Onwuasor depart.

21. Carolina Panthers: $34.54 Million

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    Alika Jenner/Getty Images

    There are a lot of changes with the Carolina Panthers in 2020. There's a new head coach in Matt Rhule. The team has to find a new defensive leader after linebacker Luke Kuechly retired. But Rhule indicated to reporters at the scouting combine that there will not be a sea change coming at quarterback:

    "I absolutely want Cam [Newton] here. There's no doubt about that. At the end of the day, it's all about what's next for us. We have to make sure we continue to get him healthy and he's doing a great job of that. I want to make sure I say that. He's going above and beyond in that regard so, when healthy, I think there's no doubt about who he is and what he can do. We just have to get him there."

    That's for the best, more likely than not. Trading or releasing Newton would add to Carolina's $34.5 million in cap space, but it also would leave a cavernous hole on the roster.

    With Kuechly and tight end Greg Olsen gone and the likes of edge-rushers Mario Addison and Bruce Irvin, defensive tackle Gerald McCoy and cornerback James Bradberry about to hit free agency, there are already enough gaps in need of patching.

20. Arizona Cardinals: $39.71 Million

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    Lindsey Wasson/Associated Press

    The Arizona Cardinals barely rank inside the top 20 in available salary-cap space, with a hair under $40 million to spend on free agents and this year's draft class.

    But it can be argued that the Redbirds are in better shape than quite a few teams with more wiggle room.

    For starters, the Cardinals don't have to worry about the quarterback position, either in free agency or the 2020 draft. The team has its man in 2019 Offensive Rookie of the Year Kyler Murray, whose rookie deal won't expire until 2024.

    Also, the Cardinals don't have any in-house free agents who are no-doubt, whatever-it-takes re-ups. Sure, bringing back tailback Kenyan Drake after his second-half surge last year would be nice. But it's not a must if the money gets wonky.

    What is a must for the Cardinals this year is improving the protection in front of Murray. It won't be at all surprising if Arizona is aggressive in going after some of this season's bigger names on the offensive front.

19. New England Patriots: $41.66 Million

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    Charles Krupa/Associated Press

    If the Arizona Cardinals are in better shape against the cap than the numbers indicate, it's the opposite story for the New England Patriots.

    The team's $41.7 million in wiggle room is a mirage.

    Whether Tom Brady returns to New England or the team is forced to turn the page at quarterback, a significant portion of that cap space is going to that position—well over half if the Golden Boy is back in 2020.

    Brady isn't the only starter the Patriots have to consider re-signing this spring. Longtime safety Devin McCourty, linebackers Kyle Van Noy and Jamie Collins, and guard Joe Thuney are also hitting the open market.

    For many years, the Patriots have been willing to allow veteran free agents to depart. The team's ability to reload year after year is one of the most impressive things about the New England dynasty of the last 20 years.

    That resilience is about to be tested again. Only this time, there might be one player leaving that the Pats cannot afford to lose.

18. Philadelphia Eagles: $41.88 Million

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    Vera Nieuwenhuis/Associated Press

    The Philadelphia Eagles won the NFC East in 2019, but a nine-win season and quick playoff exit (not to mention approximately all the injuries ever) exposed the flaws in Philly's roster.

    The issue is going to be filling those holes without creating too many more—while doing it with an average amount of cap space.

    It's not going to be easy. The Eagles already made one difficult decision, releasing the team's best linebacker in Nigel Bradham. Longtime left tackle Jason Peters is a free agent. So is swing tackle Halapoulivaati Vaitai. And veteran defensive backs Rodney McLeod and Ronald Darby. As Jeff McLane reported for the Philadelphia Inquirer, prevailing wisdom at the combine was that veteran wideout Alshon Jeffery has played his last game for the Eagles.

    Veteran safety Malcolm Jenkins has also made it abundantly clear that he wants a new contract this spring. This could easily be a team that has to rebuild the back end on defense and the receiving corps on the fly.

    That's not going to be an easy feat for general manager Howie Roseman to pull off.

17. Seattle Seahawks: $44.67 Million

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    Dylan Buell/Getty Images

    Seattle is one of quite a few teams whose cap space carries an asterisk. If the team has its way, a large portion of it will be gone before free agency opens.

    Per Dan Graziano and Jeremy Fowler of ESPN, after trading for him a year ago, Seattle would very much like to bring back edge-rusher Jadeveon Clowney. But the team can't tag Clowney and is leery of overpaying for a player who amassed just three sacks in 2019.

    Either $15 million (plus and then some) will get tied up in an extension for Clowney, or the Seahawks will be forced to go shopping for a replacement at a position where teams often overpay because the talent pool is less than ideal. That Seattle's two biggest other areas of need (the offensive line and cornerback) often come with similarly skewed markets doesn't help matters.

    Losing both Clowney and Jarran Reed would be a crushing blow to a Seattle D-line that's already shaky.

    Keeping both is going to crush their cap space.

16. Cincinnati Bengals: $44.87 Million

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    John Grieshop/Getty Images

    We have a good idea whose name will be on the card the Cincinnati Bengals turn in for the first overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft.

    It appears we know what Cincinnati's first move in free agency will be too. As Peter King wrote for NBC Sports, presumptive No. 1 pick Joe Burrow made it clear when meeting with the Bengals that he would prefer to begin his pro career with A.J. Green catching passes from him. They look inclined to give him just that—according to ESPN's Ben Baby, the team will use $18.5 million of its cap space to slap the franchise tag on the veteran wideout.

    It's not an out-of-character move for the annually thrifty Bengals—the team has used the tag to keep veteran players in the fold in the past. That most of those players then departed the following season is a problem for another day.

    What the Bengals do not do with regularity is hand out big multiyear deals. If cornerback Darqueze Dennard finds a robust market for his services, he will likely be playing elsewhere in 2020. It's also not advisable to hold your breath waiting for Cincy to make a "splash" signing.

    You'll turn blue.

15. Detroit Lions: $47.71 Million

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    Carlos Osorio/Associated Press

    The Detroit Lions are coming off an atrocious 2019 season. But with a middling amount of cap space and over 15 free agents of their own to consider, the Lions aren't especially well-positioned to be major players in free agency in 2020.

    According to ESPN's Michael Rothstein, the Lions are not expected to make a big push to retain their bigger names like guard Graham Glasgow and defensive tackle A'Shawn Robinson. There could even be additional holes to fill—veteran cornerback Darius Slay continues to be the subject of trade rumors.

    Dealing Slay would free up some more money to spend, but frankly, even if the Lions spent every nickel they had, they likely wouldn't be able to fill every hole on the roster. The secondary was a mess last year with Slay on the field. So was the pass rush. Glasgow is just one of several interior offensive linemen who could be leaving in free agency.

    At least the Lions have the third overall pick in April's draft. That's something, right?

14. Los Angeles Chargers: $49.06 Million

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    Phelan M. Ebenhack/Associated Press

    Of all the NFL teams that could be involved in the Great QB Carousel of 2020, the Chargers might be the one we have the most clarity on at present.

    We know that Philip Rivers will not be back as the team's starter. What we don't know is where the Chargers are going from here—and GM Tom Telesco isn't tipping his hand, per ESPN's Eric Williams:

    "Our draft process won't change at all from previous years. We probably haven't done a lot in free agency in years past because we had a starter here for a long time that we were very happy with. We used free agency a little bit in a backup role, like we did with Tyrod Taylor and some others. So we'll probably do a little bit more work in free agency there, but I would say draft-wise there really wouldn't be any changes with Philip not being here."

    If the Bolts decide to draft a quarterback at No. 6 overall and roll with that rookie and Taylor under center, there will be a fair amount in the free-agent kitty.

    A more proven veteran option at quarterback, however, would wipe out half of L.A.'s cap space—if not more.

13. New York Jets: $49.40 Million

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    David Dermer/Associated Press

    The New York Jets were very active in free agency last year, handing big contracts to linebacker C.J. Mosley and tailback Le'Veon Bell.

    The fact that neither deal has worked out (yet) doesn't appear to have dissuaded the team from making another large investment in 2020.

    As Mike Florio reported for Pro Football Talk, the final day of the 2020 combine brought with it a rumor that the Jets are set to sign free-agent offensive tackle Jack Conklin. If that report is true, a good-sized chunk of New York's $49 million and change in cap space will be gonesville—Conklin could command $15 million a year or more on a new deal.

    Now, ESPN's Adam Schefter refuted that report, but it's not hard to imagine the Jets will take a hard look at the big names on the offensive line. Sam Darnold badly needs help in that regard.

    In predicting daring moves the team could make in free agency at ESPN, Derrik Klassen speculated that the Jets could be one of the teams in play for Amari Cooper as a replacement for free agent Robby Anderson.

    It looks like Gang Green won't be sitting on their hands this offseason.

12. Las Vegas Raiders: $50.34 Million

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    Ed Zurga/Associated Press

    It's the dawn of a new age in Raiders football. With the team about to play its first season in Las Vegas, there's been no shortage of buzz that the Raiders want to make a big splash in free agency.

    Say, maybe something in a six-time Super Bowl champion.

    Speaking to Eddie Paskal of the team's website in January, Raiders general manager Mike Mayock said he believes the move to Sin City will make the Raiders a more attractive landing spot for potential free agents.

    "I think first and foremost, we go from a 13 percent state tax in California to a 0 percent state tax in Nevada," Mayock said. "The players and their agents are very aware of that. I've heard more comments about what our new stadium looks like. You know, that black exterior, the sleekness of it. People are fired up about the Raiders in Vegas."

    With north of $50 million to spend, holes in the roster on both sides of the ball (wide receiver, linebacker and the secondary especially) and no prominent free agents of their own, it won't be surprising if the Raiders are big buyers once the market opens.

11. Tennessee Titans: $50.41 Million

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    Elise Amendola/Associated Press

    At first glance, the Tennessee Titans look to be in excellent shape relative to the salary cap coming off their surprising run to the AFC Championship Game. The team has talent on both sides of the ball and over $50 million to play with.

    There's a reason the Titans are mentioned as a potential landing spot for Tom Brady.

    But a quick look at the pending free agents they have tells a different story. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill, tailback Derrick Henry (who led the NFL in rushing in 2019), right tackle Jack Conklin and cornerback Logan Ryan are all about to hit the open market. While speaking to Bleacher Report's Stick to Football podcast, head coach Mike Vrabel admitted that not all of those players will be returning.

    "To think all those guys will be back, that's just not going to happen," Vrabel said. "There will be players we can hopefully get back, and there will be ones that go on and transition on to other teams."

    A number of difficult decisions loom in Nashville.

10. Washington Redskins: $61.08 Million

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    Mark Tenally/Associated Press

    With over $61 million to spend, a new personnel man in Kyle Smith and an owner in Daniel Snyder who has never been shy about spending in free agency, the Washington Redskins are a good bet to be one of the more active teams in the league.

    There are already rumblings that Washington is likely to take a run at cornerback James Bradberry, who is reportedly seeking a contract that will pay him over $15 million a season.

    Replacing Josh Norman after his release isn't the only item on the team's to-do list. The offensive line and wide receiver position both need a jolt of talent. And while Washington has the second pick in the 2020 draft, most folks believe that pick is spoken for in the form of Ohio State edge-rusher Chase Young.

    There's also the matter of a new deal or the franchise tag for free-agent guard Brandon Scherff, who could be on the verge of becoming the highest-paid interior lineman in the league.

    That isn't going to be cheap.

9. Houston Texans: $61.29 Million

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    With over $60 million to spend and a head coach/general manager in Bill O'Brien who made it abundantly clear in 2019 that he is all about living in the now, it would be reasonable to expect the Houston Texans to once again be wildly aggressive in adding veteran talent in 2020.

    But there are a couple of reasons why O'Brien may have to be a bit more measured this year: tackle Laremy Tunsil and quarterback Deshaun Watson.

    The Texans mortgaged a ton of draft capital to obtain Tunsil, who is in the final year of his rookie deal. Watson's option year is 2021, but Houston likely doesn't want to drag things out until the last minute with its star signal-caller.

    Now, the meat of those deals won't hit the books until next season, but when they do, it could easily be $50 million or more in average annual salary.

    In other words, O'Brien doesn't have as much cash to play with as it first appears unless he focuses on short-term and/or front-loaded contracts.

8. Cleveland Browns: $61.96 Million

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    David Richard/Associated Press

    In 2019, the Cleveland Browns were one of the most aggressive teams in the NFL in adding veteran talent via trades and/or free agency.

    The end result? Another disappointing season and yet another change at both head coach and general manager in Cleveland.

    Andrew Berry will (ostensibly) make the personnel decisions for the Browns in 2020. While the Browns don't have as much cap room as in years past, the team still ranks inside the top 10.

    Some of that war chest may need to be spent on keeping the team's own players around. Restricted free agent Kareem Hunt will probably be back for one more year. The 2020 status of safety Damarious Randall and linebacker Joe Schobert is less certain—both could command big contracts if they hit the market.

    Something's also going to have to be done about the offensive line in front of quarterback Baker Mayfield—especially at the tackle spots.

    No one said Berry's first year in the big chair would be an easy one.

7. Denver Broncos: $70.04 Million

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    Jack Dempsey/Associated Press

    The Denver Broncos hope to have finally found a long-term quarterback in Drew Lock. And with $70 million in cap space, the Broncos have the capital to build around the second-year pro.

    The problem lies in how many more holes will be created on the roster once the dust from free agency settles.

    A significant chunk of that $70 million is already accounted for. The Broncos are certain to pick up Von Miller's 2020 option—a move that will cost $25.6 million. Once that's done, there are potentially pricey calls to make with longtime contributors like cornerback Chris Harris Jr., defensive linemen Derek Wolfe and Shelby Harris and offensive guard Ronald Leary.

    The call with Harris appears all but made. Denver's trade for veteran cornerback A.J. Bouye all but guarantees Harris will be playing elsewhere. It also takes roughly $13.4 million out of the Broncos' cap room as soon as the new league year opens.

    It's going to be a tricky offseason for John Elway—a balancing act of attempting to take steps forward without also taking just as many in the opposite direction.

6. New York Giants: $73.99 Million

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    Seth Wenig/Associated Press

    The New York Giants are positioned to undergo quite the roster transformation in 2020. The franchise has a new head coach. A top-five pick in April's draft. Well over $70 million in cap space…

    And holes all over the roster.

    There are multiple positions the Giants need to address, whether it's the end of the offensive line or the off-ball linebackers after the release of Alec Ogletree. In addition to writing a few big checks, Giants general manager Dave Gettleman indicated to reporters the team is willing to play Let's Make a Deal with the fourth overall pick:

    "Absolutely we're open for business. Again, whatever we do is going to be in our best interest. Trading back has its danger. What happens if ... we're at four. Let's say we trade back to eight. There are only four players that we like. What if they're all gone? Now what are you going to do? Trade back again? You can trade yourself back out of good players. But, to answer your question, we're open."

    Add in looming roster decisions on the defensive side of the ball with edge-rusher Markus Golden and lineman Leonard Williams, and there's sure to be no shortage of intrigue in East Rutherford over the next couple of months.

5. Dallas Cowboys: $77.30 Million

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    Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

    In many respects, the $77 million and change the Dallas Cowboys have in cap space is a mirage. It's fool's gold.

    Sure, over $75 million is a lot of wiggle room. But a quick look at the Cowboys who could be about to hit free agency causes that pile of money to shrink—quickly.

    Quarterback Dak Prescott is about to become a free agent and is reportedly angling for a deal that could make him the NFL's highest-paid player.

    That deal alone could eat upward of half the team's cap space. But it's not just Prescott. Wide receiver Amari Cooper is set to hit free agency. So is edge-rusher Robert Quinn, who paced the team in sacks in 2019. And the team's best defensive back in corner Byron Jones.

    And that's just the big names.

    There isn't a better general manager in the game at playing the salary-cap shell game than Jerry Jones. But it's going to be next to impossible for Dallas to spend big on outside free agents in 2020.

    Even some of the inside ones will likely be casualties of the capital crunch.

4. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: $79.89 Million

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    Jason Behnken/Associated Press

    The Tampa Bay Buccaneers are one of the teams that will set the tone for free agency—in more ways than one.

    The first is the future of Jameis Winston. Whether the Buccaneers decide to keep him or play quarterback roulette with a free-agent veteran, a big slice of Tampa's cap space is going to be spent under center. This is a potentially historic crop of free-agent quarterbacks—and Tampa's nearly $80 million to spend puts the Bucs in the driver's seat.

    That isn't the only major (and potentially expensive) decision looming in Tampa. After leading the NFL in sacks in 2019, Shaquil Barrett is either going to receive the franchise tag or a humongous payday. Fellow edge-rusher Jason Pierre-Paul is also going to get paid after amassing 21 sacks in two years with the team.

    Defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh, wide receiver Breshad Perriman and veteran running back Peyton Barber will also hit free agency after playing a major role last season.

    The Buccaneers have plenty of resources, but they will need to be allocated wisely for Tampa to escape mediocrity in 2020.

3. Buffalo Bills: $82.28 Million

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    Adrian Kraus/Associated Press

    The Buffalo Bills are an interesting case. Of the 12 teams that advanced to the postseason in 2019, the Bills have the most cap space—over $82 million.

    However, as Tim Graham reported for The Athletic, Bills general manager Brandon Beane said the franchise has so much flexibility in part because he's been careful not to spend money just for the sake of spending it:

    "You need to have the ability to walk away and not chase. Sometimes those hurt because you commit a lot of time and energy into recruiting. For all the guys we sign, there are others that teams outbid us for, or a player simply says, 'I'm from Louisiana and want to play for New Orleans.' You run into all sorts of different things you can't control."

    Beane has a lot of decisions to make on the defensive front. Shaq Lawson and Jordan Phillips are free agents, and Trent Murphy has been mentioned more than once as a potential cap casualty.

    But Beane has a massive chunk of cash to improve the roster with this spring.

2. Indianapolis Colts: $86.16 Million

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    Wesley Hitt/Getty Images

    The Indianapolis Colts were among the league leaders in cap space in 2019. But the team wasn't a major player in free agency, opting to add just a couple of veteran players in wide receiver Devin Funchess and edge-rusher Justin Houston.

    One signing worked out. The other didn't.

    The Colts are once again sitting on a massive war chest in 2020—over $85 million. After missing the postseason in 2019, changes need to be made in Indy. If recent reports are to be believed, the Colts are willing to spend a big chunk of cash to make one.

    Per Stephen Holder of The Athletic, the Colts are kicking the tires on veteran quarterback Philip Rivers. There's also been speculation that Indianapolis could be a major player in the Tom Brady sweepstakes if the six-time Super Bowl winner hits the market.

    Signing a big-name quarterback would eat up a big chunk of that cap space, but there's still plenty in the kitty to fill another need or two and bring back players like tackle Anthony Castonzo and edge-rusher Jabaal Sheard.

    It's good to have options.

1. Miami Dolphins: $88.08 Million

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    Joel Auerbach/Getty Images

    There isn't a team in the NFL better positioned for a major roster overhaul in 2020 than the Miami Dolphins. In addition to the most cap space in the league, Miami has three first-round picks in April's draft—including No. 5 overall.

    The bigger question is how much of that cash GM Chris Grier will spend when free agency opens.

    Frankly, it may not be as much as some fans expect. Last year's veteran purge made it abundantly clear that the Dolphins are in a full-on, ground-up rebuild. If the team, as so many expect, drafts Alabama quarterback Tua Tagovailoa, he'll much more likely than not sit most (or all) of the 2020 season as he recovers from a dislocated hip.

    The Dolphins may still make some additions in free agency. But Miami doesn't have any in-house free agents who will command massive paydays and isn't especially likely to go on a big spending spree.


    Salary-cap space courtesy of Over the Cap.


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