NFL Salary Cap Increases By $4 Million, But Were Teams Aware Of This Before All The Cuts? | Sharapova's Thigh

Free agent defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth's suitors could grow with the salary cap increase.

We are just at the beginning of what is shaping up to be one of the wildest offseasons in NFL history, and there's already some huge news which is sure to make a significant difference on how the offseason goes. According to Adam Schefter of the NFL Network and NFL.com, the salary cap is increasing by over $4 million:

Because teams didn’t spend as much as they were supposed to under the collective bargaining agreement the past three years, teams were notified Wednesday that the salary cap will increase over $4 million to $127 million for this coming year, according to sources with two NFL teams. The collective bargaining agreement calls for cap adjustment down if teams spend over the cap in cash and adjustment up if they don’t spend up to the cap.
Link(NFL.com)

With free agency beginning at midnight ET, this is an early Christmas present for some teams that didn't have much cap space to work with such as the Colts and Panthers as Schefter also pointed out in the article. Maybe more teams will be a possibility to sign free agents such as defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth and wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh now. It also might be a disappointment to a team like the Buccaneers that are projected to be $50 million over the cap, as they might now have some competition for some players they felt they'd be able to sign.

What I'm really curious about is if teams were aware of this salary cap increase prior to last night when this news was reported. Would all of the cuts have been made in the last two days if these teams knew they had potentially $4 million more available to spend?

Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times provided some nice information on this:

There is a cap-adjustment mechanism and as one source said the number gets moved every year. Last year, it moved by about $700,000. This year, it just happened to be a bigger jump.
Link(Chicago Sun-Times)

So teams had to be expecting an increase in the salary cap as it happens each season apparently, but by over $4 million? I wouldn't be surprised if many around the league were unaware of this prior to these cuts in the last few days, and many of the players let go are very popular, if not still very talented.

In five years if you saw the list of players cut in NFL in the last two days, you'd be wondering what the hell was going on. Look at some examples:
  • Bucs released LB Derrick Brooks, RB Warrick Dunn, LB Cato June, WR Joey Galloway, and WR Ike Hilliard.
  • Colts released WR Marvin Harrison.
  • Jets released WR Laveranues Coles.
  • Chiefs released LB Donnie Edwards, CB Patrick Surtain, and QB Damon Huard.
  • Rams released QB Trent Green and WR Drew Bennett.
  • Raiders released S Gibril Wilson and WR Ronald Curry.
  • Panthers released WR D.J. Hackett.
  • Texans released OT Ephraim Salaam and S Will Demps.
Every year there's some big names released because simply they're past their best playing days, and the same is the case for most of these players. Teams are really focusing on getting younger, as well as not being so financially tied up into one player. While Daniel Snyder, Al Davis, and Jerry Jones are willing to put $15 million per season into some players, most organizations choose to spread that money around. I understand that Marvin Harrison for example has clearly lost a step to say the least and the Colts freed up $6 million with the release, so that move totally makes sense. The Buccaneers were also set on their rebuilding plan, so it seems they were just looking to get younger and essentially start over.

However, there's a few players on that list that were likely let go because of financial restraints of teams. It's possible this wouldn't be a problem with this $4 million salary cap increase, which teams may have been uniformed of as I suggested.

Regardless, this offseason's already full of headline-worthy news and should just get crazier with the salary cap increase and many popular players changing teams.

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