This week, the NFL officially announced that the salary cap for the 2021 season will be set at $182.5 million. This is still a very steep decline from previous seasons, and it’s the reason why we continue to see cap cutting moves across the league. The Kansas City Chiefs, for perspective, just released veteran offensive tackles Eric Fisher and Mitchell Schwartz.
Last year’s cap: $198.2 million.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2021
This year’s cap: $182.5 million.
Last week, we projected that the Cleveland Browns would have $20.79 million in available cap space. However, that was with an estimated salary cap of $180.5 million, so that tacks on $2 million in available cap space for the Browns.
The Browns also cut veteran DE Adrian Clayborn since our salary cap update. He was set to make $3.5 million against the cap, with a base salary of $3 million and $500,000 in his pro-rated signing bonus. That $500,000 will count as dead money, while the $3 million comes off the books. But remember, for each player you subtract from the Top 51, you also have to add a player’s salary from the bottom who now jumps up into the Top 51. That means a $780,000 salary also jumps into the Top 51, so the true cap savings from cutting Clayborn is $2.2 million.
We also realized that the two exclusive rights free agent tags for DE Porter Gustin and TE Stephen Carlson weren’t included in our last update. They each have a base salary of $850,000, and each replace a bottom salary player who would’ve been at $780,000, accounting for another $140,000 against the cap.
Take the $2.2 million from cutting Clayborn, the $2 million in additional salary cap, and the reduction of $140,000 for the two ERFAs, and the Browns now have $4.06 million more available cap space than we previously reported.
The Browns’ new number for available cap space is now $24.87 million, as of March 11.
Updated Salary Cap Numbers for Browns
NFL 2021 Salary Cap: $182.50 million
Browns’ Rollover from 2020: $30.36 million
Adjustments from 2020: -$0.96 million
Browns’ 2021 Adjusted Salary Cap: $182.50 million + $30.36 million - $0.96 million = $211.91 million
Browns’ Top 51 Cap Total: $186.03 million
Browns’ Dead Money for 2021: $1.01 million
Browns’ Total Cap Spent for 2021: $186.03 million + $1.01 million = $187.04 million
When you subtract the two subtotals above ($211.91 million - $187.04 million), you can see how the “$24.87 million in cap space” figure was derived.