The NFL has finally announced the base salary cap figure for the 2021 season. After years of seeing the cap increase annually by about $10 million, this will be the first season in a while where the cap's gone down due to revenue losses in 2020 during the COVID-19 pandemic.
After an all-time high of $198.2 million last year, the 2021 salary cap will be down to $182.5 million.
Teams were bracing for anything between $180M and $185M. The 2021 salary cap lands right in the middle. It will set off a tough few weeks for veterans. https://t.co/wjCvnLXw5I
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 10, 2021
A loss of roughly $16 million in cap space is no small thing; about an 8% reduction in spending power. As Rapoport alluded to, this could mean some rough days ahead for veterans an an inordinately high number of “cap casualties” as teams work to get under the limit and create space for other needs.
Some teams will get help in the form of rollover cap space that went unused in 2020. The Dallas Cowboys are among the league's biggest beneficiaries of this provision with $27.5 million being added to their cap room this year.
That sounds awesome on the surface but most of that cap room was already eaten up by Dak Prescott's new contract. Even with the modest $22.2 million cap hit for 2021, Dak's deal has left Dallas with little spending power currently for the offseason.
Based on their current contracts now with Dak signed, Dallas is only projected to have about $2 million in available cap when free agency opens next week.
Dire as that sounds, we can expect some moves in the coming days that will give the Cowboys more spending power for the offseason. We will likely see contract restructures on Amari Cooper, DeMarcus Lawrence, and perhaps some other veterans. There may be a few cap casualties as well, such as Punter Chris Jones.
But today was a key day; the official release of the 2021 salary cap that teams have been waiting on before conducting other business. We'll see what the Cowboys do to create cap space and prepare for free agency in the very near future.