Doug Farrar and Mark Schofield | Touchdownwire
The 2021 NFL free-agency period, which officially begins at 4 p.m. ET on March 17, promises to be like few others in the league’s history. Due to projected revenue shortfalls in the age of COVID, the league has anticipated that the 2021 salary cap will be somewhere between $180 million and $185 million per team. That’s down from $198.2 million in the 2020 league year, which obviously puts several teams in a major pinch. Right now, per OverTheCap.com, there are 13 NFL teams over a projected salary cap of $180.5 million, and teams like the Saints ($69,500,461 over) Eagles ($43,189,668 over), Rams ($33,986,331 over), Steelers ($26,131,664 over), and Chiefs ($23,132,376 over) will have to engage in some highly creative accounting just to get into compliance — forget about making any big splashes.
On the other hand, we have teams like the Jaguars ($77,552,150 under the cap), Jets ($67,948,314 under), Patriots ($62,211,837 under), Colts ($43,635,239 under), and Washington ($38,277,074 under). The radical disparity between the haves and the have-nots when it comes to the capacity to spend in free agency could lead to an unusually constricted market, especially for those players who are more rank-and-file than sheer superstar. Not that those players won’t have offers; but those offers might not be what they may have been in previous years. It’s not the fault of the players; it’s simply how the market lands in this particular time. This could result in a lot of free agents taking one-year contracts and shining it on until new television deals and the hope of a more “normal” world make things more equitable in the 2022 league year.
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