The National Football League has informed its teams that the 2021 salary cap will be set at $182.5 million, according to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
Now the league braces for what’s expected to be a busy week of surprise cuts before the NFL’s 2021 season officially begins next Wednesday.
“I think there’s going to be a seismic shift in talent across the NFL,” Arizona Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill told SixriusXM NFL radio last Tuesday. “You got teams that are projected to be well over the cap, you got teams projected to be well under.
“I know every … potential free agent out there (is) thinking they’re not going to be released, but there are going to be a bunch of surprises to people here in a few weeks when everybody has to get under the cap.”
Arizona could have an estimated maximum of $14.6 million in cap space if it signs at least 51 players to its roster for 2021, according to OverTheCap.com. That is somewhere in the median NFL-wide.
Spotrac.com has the estimated cap space figure closer to $15 million after adjusted rollovers from 2020.
The 2021 salary cap decreased from $198.2 million last season to $182.5 million due to the loss in revenues caused by the coronavirus. It’s the NFL’s first salary cap decrease.
The exact figure lands right in the middle of the estimation that it would fall between $180 million — the league set that as the minimum weeks ago — and $185 million.
Locking the salary cap in on Wednesday comes after the NFL did not push back the franchise and transition tag deadline from Tuesday.
Ten players were tagged, with linemen on both sides of the ball, wide receivers and safeties making up all of them.
With that, players like Cardinals outside linebacker Haason Reddick were not tagged and will hit an open market. That market could see big-time players earn their money but second- and third-tier talents suffer from the reduced cap — at least during the first year of their contracts.
Notable Cardinals free agents along with Reddick include cornerback Patrick Peterson, running back Kenyan Drake, nose tackle Corey Peters, linebacker De’Vondre Campbell, right tackle Kelvin Beachum, right guard J.R. Sweezy and edge rusher Markus Golden.
Receiver Larry Fitzgerald is also a free agent but is still deciding whether to retire or play in 2021.
Cornerback Robert Alford and linebacker Devon Kennard are two Cardinals who could be cut candidates. Releasing them would open up significant cap space.
Over the next week, it’s expected that teams will be active finding ways to shed salaries in order to have flexibility when the new league year begins. It’ll be an anxious time for all those free agents and even some rostered players for 2021.
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