Least of the East

USA TODAY Sports

The current salary cap situation for the 2013 NY Jets and the rest of the NFL.

In the chart below you can see the current 2013 salary cap situation of every NFL team. The middle column lists the amount of unused cap space rolled over from the 2012 season. The right hand column lists the total cap space currently available to each team, before accounting for draft classes, FA signings, contract restructurings and the wiggle room teams usually build into their budgets to account for in season moves.

2013 Cap Space

Team Carryover
Total space
Arizona $3.6M -$723,000
Atlanta $307,000 $4.9M
Baltimore $1.2M $15.7M
Buffalo $9.8M $20.6M
Carolina $3.6M -$11.8M
Chicago $3.2M $13.3M
Cincinnati $8.5M $55.1M
Cleveland $14.3M $48.9M
Dallas $2.3M -$18.2M
Denver $11.5M $18.5M
Detroit $486,000 -$1.1M
Green Bay $7M $7.1M
Houston $2.4M $12.9M
Indianapolis $3.5M $46M
Jacksonville $19.5M $22.1M
Kansas City $14M $16.1M
Miami $5.3M $35.8M
Minnesota $8M $16.1M
New England $5.6M $18.6M
New Orleans $2.7M -$14.7M
NY Giants $1M -$4.7M
NY Jets $3.4M -$19.4M
Oakland $4.5M -$4.5M
Philadelphia $23M $5.2M
Pittsburgh $758,000 -$10.8M
San Diego $995,000 $8.7M
San Fran $859,000 $3.9M
Seattle $13.2M $18.6M
St. Louis $247,000 $1.8M
Tampa Bay $8.5M $31.3M
Tennessee $12.8M $19.4M
Washington $4.2M -$4

The carryover figures are interesting, in that the 2013 NFL season brings with it a new twist in the salary cap. For the first time not only will there be a cap, estimated at $120.6 million; there will also be a floor. The floor is set for the 2013 season at 88.8% of the salary cap, or approximately $107.1 million. However, there is a catch. The floor works entirely differently than the cap. Unlike the cap, with it's byzantine rules of proration, acceleration, and June 1 cuts, the floor is exquisitely simple. Teams simply must spend no less than $107.1 million in actual cash outlays for player compensation in 2013. That figure rises to 90% of the cap for 2014 and all subsequent years. But for the present, all NFL teams must spend no less than $107.1 million in cash for player compensation. That figure is approximately $13.5 million less than the cap. Due to proration of bonuses most teams have cap numbers that exceed their cash outlays. So, for example, the Jets have a current cap figure of $146.8 million, but a cash outlay figure of $119 million. The implication is that the teams that are far under the cap for 2013 may have no choice but to spend and spend big in 2013. For one year only there is likely to be significant inflation in FA salaries, as more money chases the same number of FAs. For this reason, there might be a very small silver lining in the Jets salary cap woes, as we will be forced to sit out what shapes up to be the most overpriced FA market in NFL history.

Interesting to note are the 5 teams with more than $30 million in cap space. They are Cincinnatti ($55.1 million), Cleveland ($48.9 million), Indianapolis ($46 million), Miami ($35.8 million) and Tampa Bay ($31.3 million). A few things of note. First, if Cleveland and Cincinnatti play their cards right, the AFC North may be in for a reversal of fortune. Both Pittsburgh and Baltimore have significant age issues. Cincinnatti in particular looks like it may be in good position to wrest control of the North in future years, with a team that already qualified for the playoffs in 2012, a top 6 defense, and a couple of budding offensive stars in Green and Dalton already in place. With oodles of cap space to use, Cincinnatti appears primed for a run at AFC supremacy.

Indianapolis also appears to be headed for a good run, with a franchise QB already in place and $46 million to spend.

Meanwhile, in the AFC East, the Jets bleak salary cap situation only looks bleaker. Every AFC East team has at least $40 million more in cap room than the Jets, with MIA topping the list at a whopping $55 million more cap room than the Jets. With that kind of cap room, if Tannehill pans out MIA could be poised to finally make a run at ending NE's hegemony in the East in a year or two. By the same token, the Jets look headed for last place in the division, as each of our rivals will be adding pieces while we can only subtract. Mr. T, cap guru, is the Jets gift that keeps on giving. We are headed straight for being the Least of the East, and we have Mike Tannenbaum to thank for it. Hey, it's the least he could do.

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