Note: The figures in this post come from several different sources. If I have the correct interpretation, I have combined them to project how much cap space the Cleveland Browns will have for the 2012-2013 NFL season.
First, let's get to the sources of how much cap space the Browns were believed to have available heading into this offseason. This might get confusing to read in paragraph format, so I'll lay my thought process out bullet-by-bullet.
- Salary Cap for 2012: About a week ago, the Sun Sentinel projected that the NFL salary cap would be about $124 million in 2012. An exact amount should be released within the next week or two, but it should range anywhere between $121-$125 million.
- How Much is Cleveland Under the Cap? The Sun Sentinel reports that the Browns have already invested $103.78 million for 2012. If you take the difference between $124 million and that amount, it means that the Browns are about $20.21 million under the cap. Going by this amount, the Browns have the 11th highest amount of money to spend in 2012. Just for another reference, ESPN projected that the Browns would be $21 million under the cap.
- The "Carry-Over" from 2011: Remember that weird lockout last season that kind of...tweaked a few of the rules? Well, it appears that teams who did not utilize their full cap space in 2011 can carry that unused space over to 2012, inflating the amount of available cap space significantly in some cases. Here is an explanation from PFT:
Under Article 13, Section 6(b)(v) of the CBA, each team may carry over any remaining cap room from one year to the next by submitting written notice, signed by the owner of the team, to the league office no later than 14 days before the start of the next league year. The written notice must indicate the maximum amount of cap room that the team wishes to shift from one cap year to the next.30 teams opted to take advantage of this. The Texans and Chargers did not because of not having excess cap space from 2011 available, I believe.
- What is the Browns' Carry-Over from 2011? According to Pro Football Talk, the Browns are carrying over $8.98 million from 2011.
- Putting it All Together: When you take the amount that the Browns are under the cap (~$20.21 million) and the carry-over from 2011 ($8.98 million) and add them together, the Browns could have about $29.19 million available to spend this offseason. I don't know where they ranks them compared to the rest of the league, but I imagine that it would still put them close to 11th place.
The Browns at a minimum have to set aside $5 million for rookies, according to the Sun Sentinel. Since the Browns have two first-round picks, that amount could be higher. Still, having around $23 million to spend on free agents should be more than enough to retain the likes of D'Qwell Jackson and whoever else the team intends to bring back, while also making a splash in signing other teams' free agents.