Teams that aren’t heading to the NFL playoffs, like the Oakland Raiders, have three things to enjoy until the end of the season – seeing some of their younger players develop, start thinking about what they’re going to do in the draft and if they have a lot of cap space, what free agents they’re going to pick up in 2014.
There is some debate about the quarterback the Raiders back heading into next season – Terrelle Pryor or Matt McGloin, but they’re also quite happy and rubbing their hands about the fortunes free agency might offer them. The Raiders are carrying only 32 players into next season, which means they have a lot of spots to fill during the offseason, but it also means that they’ll be carrying only $58 million in salary going into 2014.
With the cap space estimated to be around $125 million, this means the Raiders will have about $70 million to spend on free agents and rookies, if you calculate their remaining cap space from 2013 ($2.7 million, which can be carried over).
The Raiders, 4-8, are last in the tough AFC West, which has the Broncos and the Chiefs battling for supremacy in the conference. They can still finish 8-8, which might be enough for a postseason spot in the rather weak AFC, but it probably won’t happen anyway considering they’ve lost four of their last five games and have to play their three division rivals to finish the season.
Other teams with plenty of cap space next year: Jaguars ($58 million with 44 contracts), the Browns ($49 million with 52 contracts), the Bears ($47 million with only 26 contracts), the Colts ($39 million with 41 contracts), and the Vikings ($27 million with 41 contracts).