NFL salary cap, explained: Every team’s space available to sign free agents in 2024 offseason

As soon as Mecole Hardman caught the Super Bowl-winning touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes, the rest of the NFL turned its attention to next season. Hope starts anew in the offseason, as all 32 teams try to either upgrade their roster or position themselves for future success.

That is easier for some teams than others. Certain franchises have the benefit of significant salary cap space entering the offseason, allowing them as much flexibility as possible, while others are constrained by the salary cap and might be forced to stand on the sidelines of free agency.

As the NFL sets its 2024 salary cap, many fan bases have reason to be excited about what the offseason will bring.

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Here’s a look at how the NFL salary cap is calculated and which teams have the most space entering the offseason. 

How is the NFL salary cap calculated?

To calculate the salary cap, the NFL takes 48% of its annual profit and sections it off for the players. Some of that money, however, is reserved for player benefits. The remainder is divided among the 32 teams, giving each team the same salary cap figure — though teams are not required to use all of the salary cap money available to them. 

The salary cap was set at $224.8 million in 2023, and it’s expected to rise again in 2024 as league revenue continues to boom.

NFL salary cap deadline 2024

All NFL teams must be under the salary cap by the start of the new league year at 4 p.m. ET on March 13. 

The free-agent negotiation period begins at 12 p.m. ET Monday, March 11, and each team has until Friday, March 5, to use its franchise tag.

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NFL salary cap space by team

The salary cap has not yet been set, but Pro Football Talk reports that it could be approximately $242 million. 

Based on Over the Cap’s estimation of a $242 million salary cap, here’s a look at how much money teams will have to spend in cap space as of Feb. 20:

Team Cap space (Estimated)
Washington Commanders $73.6 million
Tennessee Titans $67.8 million
Chicago Bears $67.0 million
New England Patriots $66.0 million
Cincinnati Bengals $59.4 million
Indianapolis Colts $58.9 million
Houston Texans $57.7 million
Detroit Lions $44.8 million
Arizona Cardinals $41.7 million
Tampa Bay Buccaneers $36.9 million
Las Vegas Raiders $35.3 million
Carolina Panthers $28.6 million
Los Angeles Rams $27.7 million
Atlanta Falcons $25.8 million
Minnesota Vikings $24.6 million
Philadelphia Eagles $19.9 million
New York Giants $19.5 million
Kansas City Chiefs $15.2 million
Jacksonville Jaguars $11.3 million
Baltimore Ravens $7.3 million
New York Jets $1.7 million
Green Bay Packers -$2.9 million
Seattle Seahawks -$5.3 million
San Francisco 49ers -$12.4 million
Pittsburgh Steelers -$13.9 million
Cleveland Browns -$19.6 million
Dallas Cowboys -$19.7 million
Denver Broncos -$24.1 million
Los Angeles Chargers -$35.5 million
Buffalo Bills -$51.3 million
Miami Dolphins -$51.9 million
New Orleans Saints -$83.7 million

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What does cap number mean for free agency?

The salary cap number dictates how much money that team has to work with in the offseason.

Franchises can open up more cap space by cutting or trading players, but restructuring contracts is often a quieter way of clearing room on the budget. Some teams, most notably the Saints, have dealt with extreme salary cap restraints by working out restructured deals that push players’ salaries further down the line.

The Commanders, Titans, Patriots and Bears have the most flexibility at this point. All project to have more than $66 million in cap space, setting the stage for those teams to add via free agency or trade if the right players are available. All four teams had a losing record in 2023 and three have a new head coach, so they will almost certainly be active in making changes.

The Saints, Dolphins and Bills, on the other hand, are among franchises who will have to shed salary in the offseason. Even if they are able to get in a better salary cap position, adding talent will be challenging despite all three teams planning to contend in 2024.

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