On the first day of free agency, we noted that the Cleveland Browns had $44.485 million in available cap space. We are now about a week and a half in to free agency, and the following has happened in relation to Cleveland:
- None of the team's remaining six unrestricted free agents were re-signed.
- Three players were waived or had their contracts terminated, which added to the team's dead money in 2016.
- Four lower-end free agents were signed.
Let's break this down into three sections: the Browns' Top 51 cap total, the team's dead money situation, and finally the formal calculation of how much cap space they have left.
Top 51 Cap Total
Heading in to free agency, the Browns' Top 51 total came in at $130.587 million.
- QB Johnny Manziel: $2.250 million removed from Top 51
- WR Dwayne Bowe: $8.000 million removed from Top 51
- ILB Karlos Dansby: $6.500 million removed from Top 51
These three moves shaved $16.750 million off of the Top 51 calculation. Because the Browns added four players to the Top 51 but only lost three, we still need to bump one of those bottom players with a $525,000 salary out of the Top 51. Therefore, in total, $17.275 million was removed from the Top 51 calculation.
- OL Alvin Bailey: $1.333 million added to the Top 51
- ILB Demario Davis: $3.200 million added to the Top 51
- ILB Justin Tuggle: $0.700 million added to the Top 51
- FS Rahim Moore: $1.850 million added to the Top 51
These four moves add $7.080 million to the Top 51 calculation. The net change to the Top 51 calculation is a decrease in $10.195 million ($7.080 million added - $17.275 million lost). The Top 51 total is now $120.392 million.
Dead Money Total
Heading in to free agency, the Browns' dead money total came in at $1.614 million. Even though the Browns shaved money off the top 51 by cutting Manziel, Bowe, and Dansby, a good amount still went toward dead money, as illustrated below:
- QB Johnny Manziel: $4.333 million added in dead money
- WR Dwayne Bowe: $4.600 million added in dead money
- ILB Karlos Dansby: $3.000 million added in dead money
As side calculations, the Browns overall added $2.083 million to the cap by cutting Manziel, saved $3.4 million off the cap by cutting Bowe, and saved $3.5 million off the cap by cutting Dansby.
Altogether, the three moves added $11.933 million in dead money. Combined with the previous total of $1.614 million, the Browns are now carrying $13.547 million in dead money.
Browns' Top 51 Cap Total: $120.392 million
Browns' Dead Money for 2016: $13.547 million
Browns' Total Cap Spent for 2016: $120.392 million + $13.547 million = $133.939 million
The Browns' adjusted salary cap for 2016 is $176.686 million. When you subtract the two subtotals ($176.686 million - $133.939 million), we conclude that the Browns have "$42.747 million in cap space" as of March 20th. That means the team's net change since the start of free agency is just a loss of $1.738 million. The team is clearly set on carrying over cap space into future years so that they can one day be true big spenders like the Jaguars and Raiders have done. The Browns currently have the third most cap space in the NFL, only behind the 49ers and Jaguars.
More moves could be on the way in the coming week or two to fluctuate that number, including:
- Getting WR Josh Gordon off the suspension list
- Signing another player (such as Robert Griffin III)
- Releasing a couple more veteran players