There are still a few uncertains when it comes to the Cleveland Browns' 2014 salary cap, with the primary one being how much WR Nate Burleson is scheduled to make this year. However, now that C Alex Mack is under contract and most of the team's free agent signings are complete, estimates have the Browns at somewhere between $29.6 million and $30.8 million. Both figures still give the Browns the most cap space in the NFL.
When it comes to the Top 51 rule, there is one more factor we have to take into consideration before giving a true value of our cap space heading into training camp: the rookie pool allocation. The Browns have ten draft picks, and Jason from Over the Cap has compiled a list of what every pick in this year's draft is expected to make.
Cumulatively, the Browns' ten draft picks would have a cap hit of about $10.146 million in 2014. However, for the Top 51 rule, we do not just subtract that value from $29.6 million. That is because some of those rookie draft picks will have contracts that bump salaries previously in the Top 51 out of the Top 51, which, in a way, cancels out to lessen the amount of cap space required. A summary of the Browns' ten draft picks and which players would be dropped from the Top 51 is below:
|Browns' 2014 Rookie Pool||Bottom of Top 51 (Removed)|
|Round||Pick||2014 Cap Hit||Player||2014 Cap Hit|
|1||4||$3,945,957||Armonty Bryant||$ 511,375|
|1||26||$1,518,080||Garrett Gilkey||$ 507,848|
|2||3||$1,050,489||Martin Wallace||$ 497,000|
|3||7||$602,231||Josh Aubrey||$ 496,666|
|3||19||$578,232||Darius Eubanks||$ 495,000|
|4||6||$550,499||Jordan Poyer||$ 495,000|
|4||27||$532,120||Eric Martin||$ 495,000|
|Top 51||$8,777,608||Total Removed||$ 3,497,889|
In round 5-7, the Browns' draft picks are scheduled to make $476,911 or less in 2014, which was below the lowest-cap-hit player in the Top 51 (Eric Martin at $495,000). In rounds 1-4, all of the dollar amounts were higher than Martin's value, so they end up pushing a total of seven players with lesser cap hits out of the equation.
On the draft pick side, we're only counting $8,777,608 toward the Top 51. However, those seven draft picks also replaced seven players in the Top 51, who cost $3,497,889. When you take the difference, the cap space required for the Browns' 2014 draft class is about $5,279,719.
That would give the Browns somewhere between $24.32 million and $25.52 million in cap space around the time training camp starts. Once final cuts are made heading into the regular season, those amounts could fluctuate based on cuts, and the fact that you count the entire 53-man roster (plus the practice squad) against the cap. In general, though, those are the numbers the Browns can expect to have.
The Browns rolled over $24.54 million in cap space from 2013 to 2014, and it looks like they'll be in shape to do the same from 2014 to 2015, which gives them the flexibility to extend players whose contracts will be coming due in the future.