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NFL salary cap set at $182.5 million; Washington has $38.9 million in cap space heading into free agency

Washington has the 6th most cap space

Carolina Panthers v Washington Football Team Photo by Will Newton/Getty Images

COVID-19 affected everyone last year, and it will continue affecting the world for a long time. The world was shut down, but it continues to spin, just at a much slower pace. Governments have put restrictions on public gatherings, which has a huge effect on professional sports that rely on live audiences as a source of income. The NFL managed to go through the entire 2020-21 season without cancelling a game. There were scheduling changes and postponements, but the show went on. Some teams hosted fans last year, while others were shut down for the entire season. TV ratings were up and down, but new deals are coming (along with online streaming deals) that will affect future revenue.

The NFL sets their salary cap every year in March, and it has been steadily rising by $10-12 million since 2013. A new CBA was signed in 2012 after a lockout, and TV deals pumped a ton of money into the league’s coffers which allowed the pot to grow for players. That changes this year as the NFL looks to spread out some of the losses from this year and potentially future years, over the next few seasons. Many stories came out talking about the potential drop in the 2021 salary cap, and a lot of them projected it be around $175 million per team. That would have been a $23.2 million (11.7%) drop from 2020’s cap number.

Adam Schefter reported that the salary cap would likely be $180-181 million for 2021, and then the NFL set the floor at $180 million. There was some hope that the new TV deals being worked out now would help boost this year's cap, but that's not happening, and it has officially been set at $182.5 million.

The Washington Football Team still has $38.9 million available according to Over the Cap. There are a lot of moves that need to be made this offseason that will have a big effect on how much money they will have going into free agency. Washington already released Alex Smith to save $14.7 million. They took those savings and more and used them for a second franchise tag for RG Brandon Scherff, who will make $18 million if a long-term deal isn't worked out between him and the WFT.

Overall Washington is in good shape with their cap going into Ron Rivera’s second season as head coach. They currently have the 6th-most cap space in the NFL, and will be in position to re-sign their own players, and make moves in free agency, which starts on Wednesday, March 17th at 4pm. There will be a lot of teams who will need to cut some very good players to make their caps work. This could be a good year to be a buyer in the market, and Washington seems primed to make moves to capitalize on competing in a weak division.

Salary Cap by year:

2021: $182.5 million

2020: $198.2 million

2019: $188.2 million

2018: $177.2 million

2017: $167 million

2016: $155.27 million

2015: $143.28 million

2014: $133 million

2013: $123 million

2012: $120.6 million