This is a clarification post. It stops short of a retraction on the Smaug’s Cave post from the weekend. But I do wish to soften that critique with today’s piece. I’ve gained a new and key understanding on NFL salary cap and it needs to be shared because it affects how we view the Browns’ activity in this FA season.
Let me explain.
I’ve been hammering the Browns for whiffing on a CB acquisition in free agency. Ditto tight end, safety, guard. I’ve made note –in an unkind way– of the Browns’ position in cap spend being last or tied with the Bengals for last.
And I was all set to tee off on Jimmy Haslam’s statement yesterday that the Browns are saving half their cap space to use next year (go to 4:50 of link). I did not think teams could spend over the cap so I thought it was an incorrect statement.
But it turns out, this:
Can a team carry excess/unused cap space into the next year?
Yes. Unused cap space from a team’s previous year cap can be added to the following year. The team must notify the league of their intent to rollover cap money at least 14 days prior to the start of the next season’s league year.
Does it continue to rollover like cellphone minutes?
No. Rollover money from 2012 into 2013 is treated as “adjusted cap”. Any unused “adjusted” money in 2013 cannot be rolled over again into 2014.
So we’re looking at a rollover for 2014. How much?
If you want to project the Browns 2013 cap, you take the current 93mm and plug in dollars for Alex Mack extension; TJ Ward extension; rookie signings. I’ve been using 6m for Mack (based on Max Unger); 3.5 for Ward (based on Patrick Chung).
(For a different view on the those values, see @liloumikey‘s post here: he uses Ryan Kalil and Michael Griffin as the standards. So, I may be light; he may be heavy; it could get bloody with Banner vs. Mack.)
I’ve been using 10-12m for rookie signings.. that could be high due to no second round pick. (Mikey assigns 6m here.)
We probably should lop off Usama Young (2.2m savings), Owen Marecic (0.4). Frankly you’d have to say Chris Gocong (4.2m) and Colt McCoy (2.3m) are on the bubble. But I’ll leave all these guys on the roster.
Net net and using my numbers, I’ve got us like this:
94mm (2/20/2013 number) + 9.5 (Mack/Ward extensions) + 10 (rookies) =
113.5mm projected 2013 Browns cap number.
WHAT DOES THIS MEAN?
More cap space is a good thing. Fine. Given. Stipulated.
Add that 9.5m rollover to an expected 2014 cap of 125m and that means 134m payroll in 2014. Fine.
What do you DO with that though? You can’t sign a long term contract with it, because the roll-over dollars are a one-shot deal. Or can you?
In other words: Clay Matthews, Jay Cutler, Jimmy Graham are scheduled to be UFAs in 2014. That 9.5m rollover, plus the Browns’ standing with the most cap space, ,, that’s not going to get the Browns into the bidding for any of these players right?
However… and this is just me doing math… one could see a scenario where the Browns have that one-year of 10mm cash burning a hole in their pocket… could they offer Cutler (just as an example) something with a first year cap hit of 30mm? Would that get Cutler’s attention?
I’m trying to come up with ways that rollover cap space, which must be consumed in the next year, can be beneficial. All I got are one year contracts (meh) and front-loaded contracts.
Looking specifically at 2014, the Browns have the following guys becoming UFA in 2015 and thus 2014 is a good time to do the extensions:
- Joe Haden
- Ahtyba Rubin
- Chris Gocong
- Phil Taylor
- Jabaal Sheard
- Quentin Groves
- Greg Little
- Jason Pinkston
Day-umm. I’m looking at that list… and I’m thinking those front-loaded contract are going to go to Haden, Taylor, and (I hope he earns this) Little. In other words:
My concern that the unused cap space of 2013 would evaporate appears misplaced.
More than happy to correct myself. Don’t let me down Banner/Haslam: be in the business of using every penny you can to building this into a sustainable winner.
We’re still last in 2013 cap spend.
This is true. This is instinctively peculiar and unsettling.
I stand by my dismay at the lack of action upgrading CB; I think an upgrade there would have provided a major improvement in an area of need and should not have caused cap problems moving forward.
But, based on the new info, the bottom ranking on cap spend is not evidence of malfeasance on its face. And that is the point I wish to clarify/make/adjust from the earlier posts.
Final note and a bit off-topic.
Haslam stressed that he, Banner, Chud all share the same philosophy that you build your lines first. While I think he may over-rate the strength of the current o-line, we would be just damn irresponsible if we didn’t take note of this statement and say, ‘Well done; 100% agree.’