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NFL salary cap set at $224.8 million; Washington will have $32.8 million after Carson Wentz is released

Washington has the 16th most cap space in the NFL

Cleveland Browns v Washington Commanders Photo by Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The NFL sets their salary cap every year after the regular season ends, and it had 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 changed two years ago as the NFL looked to spread out some of the losses from the last three years. The cap dropped $15.7 million from 2020 to 2021, but it bounced back last year. The NFL officially set the 2022 salary cap at $224.8 million, a $16.6 million increase over last year’s $208.2 million cap. Last year’s cap saw a $25.7 million increase.

The Washington Commanders currently have $6.65 million available according to Over the Cap. They are expected to release QB Carson Wentz after his disappointing time under center. Washington traded two 3rd round picks to the Indianapolis Colts last month to get Wentz and his 3-year contract. They paid him $28 million, but his contract doesn’t have any guaranteed money left going forward. Washington saves $26.2 million on the 2023-24 cap which makes it an easy decision to move on. With Wentz’s release Washington will have $32.8 million in cap space going into the new league year, which would be the sixth-highest based on current cap space. Washington carried $5.5 million in cap space over from the current season to next season’s cap.

Washington is expected to make an effort to re-sign DT Daron Payne who just played on the 5th year option and will be a free agent in March. They seemed to be trying to replace him last year by drafting Phidarian Mathis in the 2nd round, but he didn’t make it through the first game before going on season-ending IR with a meniscus injury. Washington also released Matt Ioannidis and let Tim Settle walk in free agency. Payne responded by having his best season as a pro with 11 12 sacks.

Payne is expected to get a big pay day if he hits free agency, and Washington could have to use the franchise tag($18.9 million) to either keep him, or explore trade options. They picked up rookie DT John Ridgeway on waivers from the Dallas Cowboys. He tore his pec in the season finale, but he should e ready for offseason activities.

Washington has several players they will need to make decisions on as they prepare for Ron Rivera’s 4th year as head coach. Ownership issues loom large, and until that is resolved, it could be a quiet offseason for adding players. Washington has several players that will be hitting free agency(Cole Holcomb, Wes Schweitzer, Taylor Heinicke) that they will need to make decisions on. They also have a few players that are eligible for extensions after finishing their third seasons(Antonio Gibson, Kam Curl). Washington has to exercise the 5th year option($17.5 million) on Chase Young by May 1st. They will also have to make a call on several veterans who could become cap casualties or restructure candidates(Logan Thomas, Chase Roullier)

This is going to be a strange offseason as we wait to see if Dan Snyder sells the entire franchise, and if that happens, what changes will follow. It is not expected that any kind of sale will happen before the Super Bowl, but after that, everything is on the table. Ron Rivera is expected to be retained for one more year, unless a new owner comes in and makes immediate, drastic changes to the front office and coaching staff.

Salary Cap by year:

2023: $224.8 million

2022: $208.2 million

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