Under the Cap: NFC East Cap Overview
by Brian McIntyre
Football Outsiders is taking a division-by-division look at the salary cap situations of all 32 NFL teams. We're reviewing estimated cap spaces -– since cap situations are fluid and actual adjusted cap figures for 2012 remain unknown –-restricted free agents, unrestricted free agents, which players are candidates for the franchise tag and which players are headed towards the chopping block. Last week, we hit on the teams in the AFC. This week, our trip around the NFL moves to the NFC, beginning with the NFC East
Estimated Cap Space: Around $12 million
Unrestricted Free Agents (11): Alan Ball, Martellus Bennett, Derrick Dockery, Abram Elam, Montrae Holland, Bradie James, Mat McBriar, Sammy Morris, Laurent Robinson, Anthony Spencer, Frank Walker
Restricted Free Agents (3): Tony Fiammetta, Chris Greisen, Kevin Ogletree
Fiametta was claimed off waivers from the Carolina Panthers in September. The Cowboys' running game was at its best in 2011 when Fiammetta was leading the way. Dallas will look to bring to the 2009 fourth-round pick back on an "original round" tender worth $1.26 million in non-guaranteed base salary. Ogletree had a career-high 15 receptions for 164 yards and could be brought back on the low tender worth the same $1.26 million in non-guaranteed salary to compete for the No. 4 receiver role. The retirement of Jon Kitna probably won't be enough to result in a qualifying offer for the 35-year-old Greisen, who will remain in the team's "In Case of Emergency, Break Glass" case when a veteran quarterback is needed.
Franchise Tag Candidate: Reports out of Dallas are that if the Cowboys are unable to re-sign Anthony Spencer by the 4 p.m. ET deadline on March 5, they'll use the nearly $9 million franchise tender on the outside linebacker. The Cowboys' Adjusted Sack Rate improved from 6.9 percent in 2010 to 7.7 percent in 2011, and while DeMarcus Ware gets most of the sacks, Spencer has posted 17 of his own in his first three seasons as a full-time starter.
Potential Cap Casualties/Restructures: Several Cowboys agreed to restructured contracts after the lockout –- Tony Romo, Miles Austin, and Ware to name a few -– and more could do the same in 2012 to free up some cap room. The Cowboys can convert portions of Doug Free and Orlando Scandrick's base salaries into signing bonuses to create some cap room and Ware could further tweak his deal to push some cap dollars into 2013 and beyond. There's also the contract of cornerback Terence Newman, who turns 34 in September and is due $6.016 million in base salary with a cap number of $8.016 million. Releasing Newman would clear $4.016 million of cap space.
New York Giants
Estimated Cap Space: $5-$7 million over
Unrestricted Free Agents (21): Stacy Andrews, Rocky Bernard, Chase Blackburn, Will Blackmon, David Carr, Michael Clayton, Michael Coe, Jonathan Goff, Deon Grant, Domenik Hixon, Jimmy Kennedy, Mario Manningham, Derrick Martin, Kareem McKenzie, Aaron Ross, Devin Thomas, Terrell Thomas, Dave Tollefson, Justin Tryon, Tony Ugoh, Steve Weatherford
Restricted Free Agents (1): Bruce Johnson
Johnson has spent much of the last two seasons on injured reserve and is unlikely to receive a qualifying offer from the Giants in 2012.
Franchise Tag Candidate: Looking at the list of the Giants' unrestricted free agents, it's easy to find players the club would like to have back –- Blackburn, Goff, Grant, Manningham, Thomas, Tollefson, Weatherford –- but none that would warrant serious consideration for use of the franchise tag. The emergence of Victor Cruz and Hakeem Nicks have made Manningham expendable, despite the latter ranking in the top-20 in DYAR and DVOA in 2010.
Potential Cap Casualties/Restructures: You can't spell "elite" without E-L-I, and you can't spell "cap relief" without E-L-I, either. Eli Manning has a 2012 cap number of $16.35 million and is due $11.25 million in total compensation, largely coming via a $10.75 million base salary that could be reduced and converted into a signing bonus that is prorated over the four remaining years of his contract. The downside to that is that Manning already has cap numbers over $18 million in 2013-14, and adding more to them could necessitate further shuffling. Releasing running back Brandon Jacobs would clear $5 million off the cap, while the team could save $6.75 million in cash and $4.155 million in cap space by releasing cornerback Corey Webster. Safety Antrel Rolle ($7 million cash, $9 million cap), guard Chris Snee ($5.75 million cash, $8.5 million cap) and defensive tackle Chris Canty ($6.25 million cash, $7.95 million cap) are also possible restructure candidates.
Estimated Cap Space: Around $18 million
Unrestricted Free Agents (11): Victor Abiamiri, Ronnie Brown, King Dunlap, DeSean Jackson, Derek Landri, Trevor Laws, Evan Mathis, Juqua Parker, Owen Schmitt, Steve Smith, Vince Young
Restricted Free Agents (1): Antonio Dixon
Dixon was an effective starter in 2010 that spent the final 11 weeks of the 2011 season on injured reserve with a torn triceps. The attacking style of the "Wide Nine" seems to favor the former undrafted free agent out of Miami who, if healthy, should be back on the low tender worth $1.26 million in non-guaranteed base salary.
Franchise Tag Candidate: If the Eagles use the tender, it will be on wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who has averaged 57 receptions, 1,021 yards and five touchdowns since being selected in the second round of the 2008 NFL Draft out of California. A franchise tender for Jackson would be worth around $9.5 million in guaranteed base salary in 2012, which could result in the long-term extension Jackson has been seeking for two years. Or a trade out of town.
Potential Cap Casualties/Restructures: Michael Vick has a fully guaranteed $12.5 million base salary that could be restructured to help lower his $13.9 million cap number for 2012. Two post-lockout free agents signings could also help free up some additional cap space for the Eagles. Cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha did not receive a signing bonus, so his $11 million cap number is comprised solely by his $11 million base salary. Converting some of that into a signing bonus that is prorated over the four remaining years of his contract would reduce his cap number. Defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins has a $5 million roster bonus that comes due on March 13. Converting that into a signing bonus would clear $3.75 million in cap space. Cornerback Asante Samuel has added $1 million to both his 2012 and 2013 base salaries, which now stand at $9.4 million and $11.4 million. Trading or releasing Samuel would clear $8 million from the Eagles' salary cap.
Estimated Cap Space: $45-$48 million
Unrestricted Free Agents (15): David Anderson, Phillip Buchanon, Adam Carriker, Fred Davis, London Fletcher, Keyaron Fox, Kedric Golston, Rex Grossman, Tim Hightower, LaRon Landry, Sean Locklear, Rocky McIntosh, Will Montgomery, Darrion Scott, Donte Stallworth
Restricted Free Agents (2): Kory Lichtensteiger, Byron Westbrook
Lichtensteiger started 19 straight games over the 2010-11 seasons before suffering a serious knee injury last October. If healthy, using an "original round" tender worth $1.26 million in non-guaranteed base salary on Lichtensteiger, a 2008 fourth-round pick by the Denver Broncos, would be an easy decision for the Redskins.
Franchise Tag Candidate: Re-signing London Fletcher is a priority that should happen without having to use the nearly $9 million tender on the soon-to-be 37-year-old inside linebacker. Safety LaRon Landry was cruising towards a lucrative long-term contract before Achilles' tendon and groin injuries limited the 2007 first-round pick to 17 games over the last two seasons. Franchising Landry would cost about $6.2 million in 2012.
That would be nearly $1 million more than the tight end franchise tender, which could be used on Fred Davis. The 2008 second-round pick out of USC had a breakout season in 2011, catching 59 passes for 796 yards and three touchdowns. He also ranked eighth in DYAR and 14th in DVOA. Top tight ends can expect nearly $7 million per year with guarantees in the $15-$20 million range on a multi-year contract, which would make a $5.5 million guaranteed base salary on Davis a relative bargain.
Potential Cap Casualties/Restructures: The Redskins have around $84 million in cash committed for 2012, with $12 million of that total targeted for left tackle Trent Williams, who is due a fully guaranteed $11 million base salary and joined Davis with a four-game suspension for a substance abuse violation at the end of the 2011 season. 2012 is the first year where Williams' rookie contract can be restructured, and it would not be surprising to see the Redskins do just that as the No. 4 overall pick of the 2010 NFL Draft has fairly low cap numbers in 2013 ($7 million) and 2014 ($9.25 million) that can absorb additional signing bonus proration. Cornerback DeAngelo Hall has three years and $24 million remaining on his contract, which the Redskins can get out from under of at any time without any cap implications. Doing so in 2012 would free up $6.5 million in cap space. Tight end Chris Cooley turns 30 in July and has landed on injured reserve in two of the last three seasons. That could make him a candidate to be released -– with a cash savings of $3.95 million and cap savings of $2.067 million -– it's a particularly likely scenario if the Redskins use the franchise tag on Davis.
25 comments, Last at 24 Feb 2012, 3:59pm
#1 by mansteel (not verified) // Feb 20, 2012 - 12:44pm
"...the team could save $6.75 million in cash and $4.155 million in cap space by releasing cornerback Corey Webster."
Yeah...that's not going to happen. Webster is a very good corner who is also the only proven CB on the roster. Terrell Thomas is coming off an ACL, Amukamara was not very good as a rookie and Aaron Ross is, well, let's say inconsistent. Plus, Webster's cap # isn't that bad for his talent level/importance.
Oh, and how the hell are the Redskins $40-something million under the cap?!?! What happened to them overpaying for declining veterans? Is Snyder feeling all right?
#3 by John Doe // Feb 20, 2012 - 1:16pm
The teams business people must be incredible.
#4 by Matt Bowyer // Feb 20, 2012 - 2:36pm
I don't want to live in a world where the Redskins are almost $50 million under the cap. NOTHING MAKES SENSE ANYMORE.
#6 by Never Surrender (not verified) // Feb 20, 2012 - 3:12pm
Shanahan has cleaned house. The first and most important step was getting rid of the incorrigible Vinny Cerrato, who was the "brains" behind all of Snyder's big-splash moves. Our trade for McNabb was a Snyder-esque mistake, but aside from that personnel moves have been Snyder-free — and effective.
We got rid of old players who were contributing far less than their cap hit, trimmed plenty of fat, and in some cases (unbelievably in the case of Haynesworth), we even got a little value in return.
It's been a thing of beauty to behold.
#10 by Greg Trippiedi // Feb 20, 2012 - 6:21pm
Washington had just a silly payroll on the books in the uncapped year. It was like $175 million or something.
That's where all the guaranteed money in the Haynesworth and Hall deals went.
The other reason the Redskins are so far under the cap is because the largest contract (in terms of guaranteed money) the Redskins have given to a quarterback in the last six years was given to Todd Collins.
#2 by The Powers That Be // Feb 20, 2012 - 1:14pm
"Claimed off waivers from the Carolina Panthers in September, the Cowboys' running game ..."
Need an editor here, stat!
#5 by Goathead (not verified) // Feb 20, 2012 - 3:09pm
Glad I wasn't the only one thinking that.
#7 by Kevin from Philly // Feb 20, 2012 - 3:31pm
I'm putting the over/under of resigned Eagles UFE's at 1.5. Jackson is one, and they maybe keep Parker or Schmitt if they can be had on the cheap. Otherwise, sayonara boys.
#8 by AndersJ (not verified) // Feb 20, 2012 - 4:25pm
Derek Landri and Evan Mathis will 100% be back unless they get huge deals from other teams.
#17 by chemical burn // Feb 22, 2012 - 4:01pm
I think Mathis is gone for just that reason - he's being touted as someone who played himself into a large-ish deal. A lot of ESPN talking head types are listing him as the top guard available in free agency in terms of bang for the buck (which will of course, drive the market up on him and render that idea moot.)
Landri has to come back, he was so good - I couldn't believe it when they did the temporary cut thing with him at the beginning of the season and risked letting him walk after his preseason effectiveness. It's hard to even think of him and Antonio Dixon (in 2010) as back-ups, they both are just switch-ups and could easily be starting on a dozen teams in league...
Also, I think its time for Parker to go. He's getting so old and they can't tie up so much money at LE with him Babin and whatever young guy they think could actually get his act together. Babin and Vick are going to be millstones around the neck of this team for the next few years unless they figure out quick what to do about them...
#20 by ICDogg // Feb 23, 2012 - 1:30am
The market for smaller guards is relatively limited to teams that use the zone blocking scheme.
#25 by chemical burn // Feb 24, 2012 - 3:59pm
That's why him being the consensus best of the bunch matters - it's a small market and only the most elite player has any chance of driving the price up.
#9 by Moosebreath (not verified) // Feb 20, 2012 - 4:26pm
I'd add Landri to the list that might be resigned. He seemed to be an effective backup DT, so if the price is reasonable, he could be back.
#19 by ICDogg // Feb 23, 2012 - 1:26am
Landri will most likely be back, and even if not, they'll probably bring back Laws.
#18 by ICDogg // Feb 23, 2012 - 1:25am
I would take the over for sure.
#11 by jdiko // Feb 20, 2012 - 11:43pm
I never thought there would be a world where the Redskins have more cap money available than all their other division rivals combined.
#12 by Anonymous454545 (not verified) // Feb 21, 2012 - 9:30am
"never thought there would be a world where the Redskins have more cap money available than all their other division rivals combined."
Don't worry, the redskins will just throw all that money at the 2007 Pro Bowl Team. What's five years in NFL landscape?
#14 by Pottsville Mar… // Feb 21, 2012 - 10:08am
Tiki Barber, Adalius Thomas, and Reggie Wayne scored the first 3 TDs in that game, and they're all free agents (as is some guy named "Chad Johnson").
#13 by WokeUpInYborCity (not verified) // Feb 21, 2012 - 9:47am
I know these figures are only estimates but I'm constantly suprised to see the Giants at around 5 to 7 million over, on a projected "straight lined" basis, unless of course the cap really is staying at $120m or even going down.
I sa this because as things stand I think they have 42 players contracted for the 2012 season and they have a cap hit of $118.5m for those players. They then have to account for 7 draftees at a combined $5m hit. Does this really mean, from an optimal projected basis, that it is projected the Giants will spend between $1.5m and $3.5m on the two remaining free agency draft pics/free agency returns, even given league minimums, veteran credits etc to be between $5m and $7m over?
Now, you might well say that we have taken into account the key returning free agents, priced those players in and then the Giants come out at $7m over but if you are doing that, why not also take account the obvious cuts the Giants can/will make in order to squeeze in those free agency resigns?
Bottom line - I think the quantum of "over" projections for a team like the Giants make little sense, other than to point out in all likelihood one substantial cap hit will have to go plus some restructuring (or a combination of both) for the Giants to be competitive.
Ballard is an RFA too.
#15 by JasonK // Feb 21, 2012 - 4:42pm
Jake Ballard is an Exclusive Rights Free Agent.
#16 by WeWokeUpInYborCity (not verified) // Feb 21, 2012 - 7:08pm
Good point re exclusive rights free agent. I meant as much that Ballard wasnt listed above in the free agency list.
#21 by Goathead (not verified) // Feb 23, 2012 - 8:59am
The contrarian view of the Giants would be that Reese has done a lousy job as GM. This team was a cap casualty last offseason, having to let a number of productive players go. They went 9-7 in the regular season, and hit this offseason over the cap again.
For all the kudos they've been getting for Victor Cruz, the flip side is that several high draft picks at WR haven't panned out, which created the opening.
#22 by Carlos // Feb 23, 2012 - 9:08pm
several high draft picks at WR haven't panned out
Wha? Not sure what you mean by "high" but in the top 3 rounds from '06 to '10 they drafted: Sinorice Moss, Steve Smith, Manningham, Barden, Nicks. That's one star, one plus starter and another guy who made a pro bowl before injuries felled him. I'm not sure there's two NFL teams with a better WR draft record over those 5 years.
#23 by Goathead (not verified) // Feb 24, 2012 - 9:23am
Don't forget Jernigan, so 3 hits, 3 busts. Sure, Jernigan is a TBD, but early results make him look like Sinorice Moss 2.0 (anyone who watched him try to field punts preseason would be skeptical of this pick). Also, remember Beckum, 3rd round TE who has never looked like an NFL caliber TE.
But my overall point is that the team was a cap-disaster last off season, and once again hits the offseason over the cap, having come off a mediocre performance in 2011-12. To me this is the hallmark of poor work by the GM, and I think the team's late and post season good fortune has caused people to overlook this.
#24 by chemical burn // Feb 24, 2012 - 3:58pm
Uh, the Eagles have a better draft record if you limit it to the first three rounds - DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin have both been not only great picks but great value picks. Plus, they've got excellent value and production out of Riley Cooper and Jason Avant considering where they were drafted. They've drafted 5 WR's since 2006 and only one was even traded - and 6th rounder Brandon Gibson has turned into a starter for his new team. 4 out of 5 are great picks, one was a 6th rounder.
And we're just talking about 1 team in their own division that has better success than the Giants. They've invested heavily in the position and got very mixed returns. Although giving Steve Smith to the Eagles with a big price tag and having him contribute extensively to 2 losses was probably a great value for them this year. God, I hate Steve Smith.