In 2013, the NFL Salary Cap took a slight increase, reaching $121.1 million. This means there are 20 teams under the salary cap, including six with huge room to make big moves in free agency, having more than $20 million under the cap.
Teams $20 Million Under the Cap
Cincinnati Bengals, $50.6 million under the cap. The Bengals made the postseason for a second consecutive year in 2012, the first time that’s happened in 30 years. Ohio might finally have a consistent success in the NFL.
Cleveland Browns $45.6 million. The Browns usually have a lot of wiggle room to work with, just not the players who want to play for them. Finished 5-11 last season.
Miami Dolphins, $44 million. The Dolphins have quite a few important players hitting free agency next season. After another 7-9 season, it’s hard to see them making more progress in the AFC East.
Indianapolis Colts, $43.1 million. A lot of promise from a team that won 11 games last season, and with Andrew Luck are looking towards a very bright future.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers, $30.1 million. Have the basis of Doug Martin and Josh Freeman, but need to start looking after their secondary after a 7-9 season.
Jacksonville Jaguars, $23.8 million. The Jags have a problem in pretty much everything and everywhere, finishing 2-14 last season.
The Mid Level Exception
Tennessee Titans, $18.3 million under the cap. The Titans season wasn’t as bad as it started, but finishing 6-10 isn’t something to be proud of.
Buffalo Bills, $16.7 million under the cap. The Bills had another disappointing season (6-10), same record for the second straight time.
New England Patriots, $15.8 million. Another double digit win season, another AFC Championship game. As long as he has Tom Brady, Bill Belichick continues to make the right kind of adjustments in keeping this winning machine going.
Seattle Seahawks, $15 million. A team on the rise, that was a few seconds away from reaching the NFC championship game. Finished 11-5, and are looking to win the NFC West next season.
Denver Broncos, $14.9 million. Another team that had a big turnaround, although finishing in the same place they did last season. Peyton Manning led the Broncos to 13 wins, losing at home in the AFC divisional playoffs.
Kansas City Chiefs, $13.3 million. Not too much room for Andy Reid to start working , and take the Chiefs out of the NFL’s basement.
Baltimore Ravens, $12.9 million. The Ravens have a lot of key players ending their contract, which leaves a lot of question about their ability to repeat or even come close to it as Super Bowl champions.
Minnesota Vikings, $12.3 million. They have Adrian Peterson and a very good offensive line. Now it’s time to get Christian Ponder some weapons.
Chicago Bears, $10.3 million. Two consecutive seasons of missing the postseason leave the Bears, 10-6 in 2012, with a lot of questions about where to upgrade.
San Diego Chargers, $6.3 million. Missed the playoffs with a 7-9 season, but it seems a lot of people are just happy Norv Turner is gone.
Houston Texans, $6.1 million. Came up short in the same way they did a year ago, without too much room to make a big impact.
Green Bay Packers, $5.8 million. The best team in the NFC North needs to get a running game and start taking the pressure off Aaron Rodgers.
Philadelphia Eagles, $5.7 million. Most of the talk is about getting a new quarterback, but without a decent offensive line, it doesn’t matter who takes the snaps.
Atlanta Falcons, $2.1 million. The Falcons were solid everywhere last season, losing by four points in the NFC Championship game. Finding someone to replace Tony Gonzalez seems like one of the first thing they should deal with.
Not Much Wiggle Room, if any
San Francisco 49ers, on the cap. According to most “experts”, the 49ers should be the favorites to reach the Super Bowl from the NFC for the next few years. Who are we to argue.
St. Louis Rams, $2.3 million over the cap. The Rams are still going with Sam Bradford, although as long as his offensive line doesn’t get better, he’ll never pay off the huge contract he got.
Arizona Cardinals, $3.3 million over the cap. They have a few play makers on defense, and Larry Fitzgerald on offense. The rest? Needs immediate fix, going 1-11 in the final 12 games of last season.
Detroit Lions, $5 million. The most disappointing team of 2012, winning only 4 games after reaching the playoffs in 2011. Have too many needs to address for a quick, surgical fix.
Washington Redskins, $5.9 million. Nothing matters but the health of Robert Griffin III. If he’s alright, the Redskins are the best team in the NFC East.
Oakland Raiders, $8.3 million. Years of always going after the fastest guys in the draft instead of trying to make the right decisions regarding team needs are still costing the Raiders dearly.
New York Giants, $10 million. The general feeling is that the Giants only need a few fixes in their secondary, and they’re good to go and make another run at the NFC East title.
Pittsburgh Steelers, $13.8 million. After almost a decade of dominance and making the postseason, the Ben Roethlisberger era has hit a very tough bump in the road that is going to be hard to get over, unless last season was all about battling injuries instead of ability.
Carolina Panthers, $13.9 million. Cam Newton and the rest, but the Panthers, after a 7-9 season, need to start showing they’re heading in the right direction, giving the talented quarterback what he needs to become great.
New Orleans Saints, $20.6 million. The Saints didn’t do too bad despite a disastrous offseason. They don’t have much room to make drastic changes on defense, but maybe the return of Sean Payton will be enough to reclaim the NFC South.
Dallas Cowboys, $21.1 million. Quite a few needs on a team still waiting for Tony Romo to take them to the promised land, without the ability to make a difference in free agency.
New York Jets, $23 million over the cap. No quarterback they’re pleased with, along with an aging, slow defense and running game. Not looking too good right now.