The 2021 NFL offseason will be remembered for a drastic wave of cap casualties and contract restructures due to the plummeting NFL salary cap. After going through a year of financial losses tied to the COVID-19 pandemic, there is confidence that better days are on the horizon for the NFL.
Before the 2020 season kicked off, teams braced for the worst. The league and players’ union held prolonged discussions about the looming economic blow caused by the pandemic. Stadiums would be practically empty, and fans would be spending less money on merchandise. So, preparing for the worst, the NFL made adjustments.
After lengthy discussions, the league agreed to set the minimum 2021 NFL salary cap at $175 million. Toward the end of the 2020 season, with a few more fans attending games, that number was raised to $180 million. Finally, the league settled on a $182.5 million cap ceiling for this year.
While the figure was higher than the team’s worst fears, it still forced clubs like the New Orleans Saints, Green Bay Packers, Kansas City Chiefs and many others to cut key contributors from their rosters. Meanwhile, impact players and household names agreed to pay cuts just to keep their roster spots.
Fortunately, thanks to the new television contracts, things are looking up for the 2022 season and far beyond for everyone involved.
The Athletic’s Lindsay Jones wrote there is a reasonable expectation that the 2022 NFL salary cap climbs to at least $200 million, with the possibility it is set even higher. Additionally, agents believe that the 2023 cap ceiling could skyrocket toward $230 million.
This would all come just a year after the NFL lost $4 billion in revenue compared to the 2019 season. Fortunately, even after a year that saw NFL TV ratings dip, new contracts with networks will generate at least $100 billion in revenue over the next decade.
What NFL teams will benefit the most from increasing salary cap?
We’ve seen many organizations bracing for the spike in 2022, restructuring contracts so players have a higher cap hit next season. Even with that accounted for, gaining $20 million-plus in cap space will be huge for everyone involved in the NFL.
While plenty will change over the next year, due to contract extensions and cap space carrying over, there are a few teams that will benefit most from an increased salary cap. Here are a few teams with the most projected cap space in 2022, per Over the Cap:
- Pittsburgh Steelers: $113 million
- Indianapolis Colts: $108.89 million
- Seattle Seahawks: $97.8 million
- Washington Football Team: $90 million
- Denver Broncos: $88 million
It’s worth noting, this could also lead to more blockbuster trades. Russell Wilson will likely be staying with Seattle in 2021, but a deal is expected within the next calendar year. As for Aaron Rodgers, this might be his last year with the Green Bay Packers given some in the organization want to move on. With so many teams flush with cap space, there will be an even bigger market to land a star quarterback.