Salary cap details

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Salary cap details

Postby skinsfaninroanoke » Fri Mar 19, 2004 9:34 pm

Thanks to JoeGibbsIsBack

I posted this on and they made it a sticky thread because so many people don't know a thing about the salary cap:
Here's an update of all 32 team's cap status as of March 17 & a quick run down on how the salary cap works:

Team Cap status
Arizona Cardinals $7.89 million under
Atlanta Falcons $3.42 million under
Baltimore Ravens $2.71 million under
Buffalo Bills $5.3 million under
Carolina Panthers $1.2 million under
Chicago Bears $5.99 million under
Cincinnati Bengals $5.5 million under
Cleveland Browns $2.6 million under
Dallas Cowboys $10.8 million under
Denver Broncos $5.1 million under
Detroit Lions $9.36 million under
Green Bay Packers $2.9 million under
Houston Texans $7.5 million under
Indianapolis Colts $5.5 million under
Jacksonville Jaguars $9.7 million under
Kansas City Chiefs $3.1 million under
Miami Dolphins $9.27 million under
Minnesota Vikings $13.2 million under
New England Patriots $1.5 million under
New Orleans Saints $11.36 million under
New York Giants $2.7 million under
New York Jets $1.3 million under
Oakland Raiders $2.2 million under
Philadelphia Eagles $17.6 million under
Pittsburgh Steelers $746,000 under
St. Louis Rams $1.89 million under
San Diego Chargers $8.2 million under
San Francisco 49ers $5.86 million under
Seattle Seahawks $4.33 million under
Tampa Bay Buccaneers $3.2 million under
Tennessee Titans $1.56 million under
Washington Redskins $3.36 million under


NFL Salary Cap and Minimum Salary Scale

Rookie salary pool

Note: the 2004 salary cap is $80,582,000 per team, compared to last year's $75.007 million.

The NFL salary cap is the absolute maximum each club may spend on player salaries in a capped year. For 2003, that amounted to 64.25% of league-wide "efined Gross Revenues" (divided by 32 teams), made up of preseason, regular-season and postseason gate receipts and radio and television rights. For 2004 it rises slightly, to 64.75% of said revenues. The salary cap remains in effect at all times, although certain exceptions may make it appear as though it's not being applied at times. (See below.)

A team may not exceed this cap with the salaries of players that are under contract and on their roster. If a team does exceed the salary cap at any time, the NFL can waive players from the team, starting with those earning the lowest salaries, until the team's payroll has fallen under the cap. In addition, the NFL may fine a team up to $1 million per day for exceeding the cap.

Teams must spend at least $67.3 million under the cap rules.

Only players under contract count toward the salary cap. Free agents do not count toward the cap until they sign a contract with the team.

Often it may appear that the cap is not in effect. How, for example, can teams have up to 80 players on the roster (in training camp) yet not exceed the cap? Here's the explanation.

From the day free agency begins—this year, that's March 3, 2004—to the day before the season begins, a club's top 51 salaried players count towards the cap, plus pro-rated signing bonuses, incentives, etc., but not base salaries of other players on the roster up to 80. Thereafter, all salaries on a club's roster count towards the cap.

To get around the cap, teams typically structure their player contracts in such a way that much of the money is designated as "signing" or "roster" bonuses, or "incentive clauses." A signing bonus or roster bonus does count toward the cap but is prorated over the length of the contract, even though the entire bonus has been paid in cash 'up front' to the player. When you read about a player and team agreeing to restructure a contract, it virtually always means that the player has agreed to convert at least a good part of his coming season's base salary into a signing bonus.

Incentive clauses are often made easy to reach as an indirect means of playing a player more while keeping his "base salary" low. Too easy to reach, however, and they're likely to be considered salary by the NFL, which must approve all contracts. For instance, if Drew Bledsoe, who's big and known for being immobile, had an incentive clause paying him $1 million for each game he started, the NFL would almost certainly rule that such payments are salary rather than genuine incentives, since Bledsoe has been a starter for many years. But a clause paying Bledsoe a bonus if he rushes for 500 yards would be legitimate, since he's known for his lack of mobility.

There are many additional rules, some of them highly technical. An example is the so-called "eion Sanders rule" that was enacted after Dallas owner Jerry Jones gave Sanders a (then-)astronomical $13 million signing bonus, combined with base salaries of the then-minimum salary of $178,000 for the first three years. The new rule states that the first three years of any player's salary must equal the prorated amount of the signing bonus. The intent is to restrict circumvention of the salary cap.

Here's another little-known technicality. Those "likely to be earned" incentives mentioned above? Well, when they're not reached, they become cap credits the following year, which can mean a hidden bonanza for an underachieving franchise. A team that plays poorly, and which writes incentives into many of its player contracts, may actually reap a reward the year after. Case in point: the 2004 Vikings, who are an astounding $33 million under the cap. In actuality, the Vikings' cap is almost $95 million, because Minnesota gets more than $14 million in cap credits this year for "likely to be earned" incentives that weren't earned by their players in 2003.

Player benefits currently are $12,156,000 per club above the salary cap number.

Past salary cap amounts were as follows:

Year Salary Cap (per club)
2003 $75,007,000
2002 $71,100,000
2001 $67,400,000
2000 $62,172,000
1999 $58,353,000
1998 $52,388,000
1997 $41,450,000
1996 $40,777,000
1995 $37,100,000
1994 $34,600,000

The minimum salary structure for 2004 is as follows:

Years Salary
Rookies $230,000
Second-year players $305,000
Third-year $380,000
Fourth- through sixth-year $455,000
Seventh- through ninth-year $660,000
10 or more years $760,000

Finally, there is a rule promulgated by the league, designated "Cap Relief For Veterans," which allows teams to sign players with more than four years of experience to one-year contracts and have those contracts count for only $450,000 under the cap. Suppose that a 10-year veteran signs a one-year deal. He will make $760,000 (the minimum salary), but the team that signs him only has to count $450,000 against its cap. Any player receiving this benefit can receive a maximum signing bonus of $25,000.

I pasted this in here so it wouldn't get lost in the shuffle of the main board :)
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Premiership fans: please read post above

Postby welch » Sun Mar 28, 2004 9:23 pm

A double-thanks. I don't understand the cap rules, but this is a place to start learning.


In the English Premier League, in the game we call "soccer", there are often calls to implement some sort of salary cap modelled on the NFL.

Soccer-football went to something similar to the NFL's free agency rules at about the same time. A player named Bosman complained to the European courts that he should be allowed to sign a contract with whatever team he chose...just as he would be free to take a job with any company. The courts, like the US courts, threw out league rules that bound players to a team, except during the time they were under contract.

It is fascinating to compare Major League Baseball, the NFL, and the EPL, because sports economics are so similar. Fans, seats, luxury boxes, TV contracts, side paraphenalia, battles over the use of the team logo in advertisements: all the same.

Right now, the EPL is even more wide-open than baseball. There is no cap, no draft, and no salary tax. Result is that two or three "big" teams make so much that they load up with players, and win every year. A dozen or so almost-big teams scramble to finish in the middle, with a few of them qualifying for play against other European champions. (The rules for playing "in Europe", by the way, are about as convoluted as the NFL cap.).


As a fan, I'd like to see:

- some continuity on a team

- players be compensated fairly

That's a balance that might not be possible, but there are enough international examples to see a wide range of experiements.


Anyway, sorry for the digression. Very informative post.

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Postby redskinz4ever » Mon Apr 12, 2004 7:45 pm

can anyone in plain english explain the cap# and the ins and outs of it.don't understand any of it so any input would help.REDSKINZ4EVER!!!

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Postby hailskins666 » Mon Apr 12, 2004 8:03 pm

redskinz4ever wrote:can anyone in plain english explain the cap# and the ins and outs of it.don't understand any of it so any input would help.REDSKINZ4EVER!!!
man, there is so much "red tape", i can't tell you where to begin. check out the cap threads in this forum, and take notes.... little by little, you'll be able to pick up on most of it, the more you read about it. it is one complicated beast, i'll assure you of that. but, at the same time, it's simple economics, however you choose to look at it. :)
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Postby redskinz4ever » Thu Apr 29, 2004 2:49 pm

check out n.f.l. salary cap answers.still don't understand everything but by next season i can give some advice,instead of asking for it.REDSKINZ4EVER!!!

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