On Monday, it was announced that the NFL salary cap for the 2015 season has been set at $143.28 million, which is pretty much in line with the $143 million we've been using for our salary cap projections for the Cleveland Browns.
Teams were informed that the salary cap will be $143.28 million for 2015.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 2, 2015
Today, we have confirmation from the NFL that the Browns will indeed carry over $18,908,285 in unused cap space from the 2014 season, and that there is a net adjustment of ($420,885) taken away from that figure to make up for things like contract escalators that weren't likely to be reached. When you combine those numbers with the NFL salary cap, the Browns' adjusted salary cap is set at $161,767,400.
The other new element to consider is the fact that the Browns signed QB Josh McCown. The full, year-by-year details of his contract might be known by Tuesday. In our early breakdown, though, we reasoned that McCown will likely count for $5.25 million against the cap in 2015. We will factor this in to our Top 51 cap total calculation.
Let's break all of these numbers down in a more formalized manner:
NFL 2015 Salary Cap (Confirmed): $143.280 million
Browns' Rollover from 2014: $18.908 million
Browns' Adjustments from 2014: -$0.421 million
Browns' 2015 Adjusted Salary Cap: $143.280 million + $18.908 million - $0.421 million = $161.767 million
How much money do the Browns already have committed toward the 2015 salary cap? To determine that, we need two figures: the top 51 salary cap figures on the team, and the amount of dead money that was committed to players who are no longer here. For example, we cut RBlast year before the end of his contract, but he'll still count for $750,000 against the cap this year. That is dead money -- we can't do anything about it.
Browns' Top 51 Cap Total: $110.488 million
Browns' Dead Money for 2015: $1.890 million
Browns' Total Cap Spent for 2015: $110.488 million + $1.890 million = $112.378 million
When you subtract the two subtotals above ($161.767 million - 112.378 million), we conclude that the Browns have "$49.389 million in cap space" as of March 2nd. Keep in mind that this does not include the money that the Browns will need to set aside for their ten draft picks, which Spotrac.com estimates to be $7.895 million. That means that the Browns could spend up to $41.494 million in free agency without exceeding the cap.
The Browns' cap space number will decrease a little bit in the coming days, as they are most certainly expected to use a tender on FS Tashaun Gipson. If they re-sign any of their other free agents before March 10 -- such as WR Miles Austin and CB Buster Skrine -- or tag other players like ILB Craig Robertson and P Spencer Lanning -- then the cap space will shrink a little bit more. In the big picture, though, the Browns will still have the third most cap space in the NFL entering free agency, with the ammunition to make a legitimate run at one or two big-name players. The Browns also opted not to use the franchise or transition tag on TE Jordan Cameron, so that opens the door for that money to be used towards a new free agent.