Many NFL teams around the league breathed a sigh of relief when it was announced that the salary cap for the 2013 season would be higher than anticipated. In 2012, the salary cap was $120.6 million. Many expected the cap to come in at somewhere around $121.5 million this year; instead, the cap swelled up to a full $123 million.
The extra few million will be huge for many teams, particularly those who are already over the salary cap limit. It could be the difference between retaining a few more restricted free agents, or perhaps it could be just enough for a team to make an offer sweet enough to keep one of their key unrestricted free agents.
Before the lockout that took place during the 2011 offseason, there was no salary cap from the year prior due to the collective bargaining agreement having expired. In addition, many teams believed after the lockout that the cap would see a substantial rise, by perhaps as much as $10 million, due to lucrative new television contracts.
Because of these factors, many teams over the past few years have used their funds in a, perhaps, less than thrifty manner, believing that they would have more room to work with to remain under the fixed cap that each team is allotted.
As a result, these teams in recent years have continually found themselves in a cap crisis thanks to the contracts that they handed out during this time period, a crisis that they can only choose to perpetuate by restructuring contracts that push the cap hit of contracts to later years.
Of course, when those years come up, they still have to deal with that added cap burden, renewing the cycle. The hope was that by 2013 the predicted cap boom would balance out all of the reworked contracts. Although the $123 million was greater than previously anticipated this offseason, it is still a far cry from the $130 or $135 million some believed we might be seeing by now. Which makes that small increase than what was expected all the more important for cap-starved teams such as the Cowboys, the Jets, and the Steelers.
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