Saturday, March 14, 2015

Browns Salary Cap Demystified

     Browns fans have totally gotten their hopes up by the oft quoted number that they have $41 M of salary cap room, figuring they can add $41 M of free agent salaries in 2015. THAT IS NOT TRUE. It's more like $7 M now, NOT $41 M.

Mr. Tashaun Gipson would like some of the $41 Million in Salary Cap Room that the sportswriters are talking about.  

     Let's review what goes into the "cap space."    First of all there is "carryover" money of $18 M because they underspent the past two years. They have permission to overspend $18 M (temporarily raising the total salaries to $162 Million instead of the NFL limit of $143 M), but they would then have to cut payroll by $18 M in 2016. That would not make sense, and is not going to happen.
     Teams that use their carryover are teams like the Dolphins who had an enormous free agent signing with Ndamukong Suh, not to mention former Brown Jordan Cameron.   But they will have to shrink the payroll in future years, so if they don't win this year it will be harder for them to improve.  As it is, they are cutting a number of veterans to try to shrink their payroll.  

    Also they are going to have the NFL Draft again this year, and that costs money,  like 8 million dollars worth, so all NFL teams including the Browns have to set aside money for that.   

   Plus the Browns have issued tenders (that is, formal offers) to  to Restricted Free Agents Gipson, Kitchen, Robertson and Bademosi. Basically that means that they are allowed to match offers that these players receive from other teams. The Browns would also be able to receive draft choices if they don't match the offers, but most of the time Restricted Free agents do indeed re-sign with their old team.   That will cost another $6 or $8 million or so. 

Ok, so ADD THE NUMBERS. Carryover plus draft money plus restricted agents totals $32 to $34 M by my estimate. As of today, the Browns have about $7 M to spend for additional free agent salary in 2015, not $41 M.  They could go a little higher if they dip into their carryover salary cap, as explained above.  But basically there is enough for one or two quality players, but not an army of All-Pro's.

     It also bears mention that the Browns are losing some good athletes including Cameron, Hoyer, Sheard and Skrine.  That's about $18 Million in 2015 cap charges right there.  Likely the Browns signings--notably McCown, Hartline and others to be determined, will be slightly below that level.  

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