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Current NFL salary cap figures are anything but concrete

I'm always a little hesitant to publish team salary cap figures, especially this time of year. The league year has not begun and there are various contracts and restructuring in flux that can greatly sway the actual cap space a team has versus what is depicted in the snapshot provided by the NFL Management Council stats at any given time.

So please understand that with a few simple strokes of a pen these numbers can change, in some cases drastically. But, included below is how the 32 NFL teams stood in terms of available cap space at the start of the week, based on a $123M cap, and based on the top 51 highest contracts each team had on file at the start of the week.

Come next week, when the league year begins, every club must be cap compliant (at the start of this week the Panthers and Saints were still over the cap), and cap figures will be based on the full roster under contract.

Also, keep in mind that teams will need cap space to allow for their franchise tag designations and restricted free agent tenders, and, after the draft, to account for their draft selections. That eats away at millions in space alone.

And, when you look at these numbers, keep in mind it does not account for the $11-odd million newly tagged Cowboy pass rusher Anthony Spencer will count against Dallas' cap (which actually would put Dallas over the cap, and thus stay on the lookout for a possible move with Doug Free or Miles Austin).

All the players designated as franchise players on Monday -– Randy Starks (Miami), Branden Albert (Kansas City), etc -– are not reflected in these current cap figures. Similarly, Joe Flacco's six-year, $120.6 million deal with the Ravens is not reflected in their figure (the Ravens are really around $11 million in cap room, not $18 million), and ditto for the Chiefs and the deal they struck with Dwayne Bowe on Monday (although, they will save when they release Matt Cassel).

Similarly, no trades can be officially consummated until the league year begins, so while the 49ers appear to be tight against the cap, once the trade of Alex Smith becomes official it frees up another $9.75 million in available space. At the other end of the spectrum, if the Bucs let go of corner Eric Wright, as expected, that's another $8 million in savings for Tampa Bay, leaving the Bucs $40-plus million under the cap.

The Steelers have not yet released linebacker James Harrison, although that is still a very viable option and something they are considering. The Raiders (Carson Palmer, $13 million salary) and the Cardinals (Kevin Kolb, $11 million) have not yet addressed any restructurings or potential releases with their starting quarterbacks. The Lions still have quarterback Matt Stafford counting $20-plus million against their cap, pending an extension, and the Vikings have Jared Allen counting $17 million against the cap in the final year of his deal, though he, too, is likely headed for an extension or resolution of some sort.

The Saints will create abundant savings with the likely return of Will Smith on a team-friendly deal, sources said (he was set to count more than $10 million against the cap), and linebacker Jonathan Vilma will have to take a big cut to stay as well, or he will be cut. Carolina is trying to avoid releasing defensive back Chris Gamble to get under the cap, and running back De'Angelo Williams is another option there as a cap casualty.

And, finally, the Redskins have continued to tell agents they are seeking ways to fight the $18 million cap penalty they are facing this season, though the reality is at best perhaps they can seek a cap credit in future years, with timing running out for any relief by the start of free agency. They have options to free up more space by restructuring or releasing corner DeAngelo Hall or receiver Santana Moss, however, and are still awaiting final word on whether linebacker London Fletcher is returning for the 2013 season or retire.

Cap Space Entering This Week, according to NFL Management Council figures:

Cleveland : $47,049, 064
Miami : $45,655, 322
Cincinnati :$43,946,091
Indianapolis : $41,753,072
Philadelphia : $33,412,392
Tampa Bay : $32,716,002
Jacksonville : $26,706,365
New England : $25,314,200
Atlanta : $21,603,650
Green Bay : $20,096,654
Tennessee : $18,861,271
Kansas City : $18,520,186
Baltimore : $18,263,198
Buffalo : $18,109,354
Seattle : $16,952,339
Denver : $15,930,140
Minnesota : $14,330,943
Chicago : $11,957,505
Detroit : $9,545,219
NY Jets: $8,186,235
Houston : $8,140,888
San Diego : $7,439,841
St. Louis : $7,241,028
Arizona : $5,783,648
Dallas : $4,147,344
NY Giants: $3,802,058
Washington : $2,930,335
Pittsburgh : $2,686,592
Oakland : $1,456,077
San Francisco : $1,035,903
Carolina : $3,625,068 (over cap)
New Orleans : $5,434,758 (over cap)

 
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