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Browns paying a large sum in dead cap in 2023

NFL free agency spent some salary cap space but so are players no longer on the team

Syndication: USA TODAY Andrew Nelles / USA TODAY NETWORK

The NFL’s salary cap is a tricky minx for NFL fans and teams. Sometimes, lousy planning can put teams in “salary cap hell” or give them something to blame when they cut a fan favorite. Others will talk about the salary cap being “fake” noting how often teams make things work no matter what.

For the Cleveland Browns, salary cap talk will likely be a big conversation, one Browns fans haven’t had a lot of in the past. Not long ago, Cleveland was “renting out its cap space” to acquire draft picks.

The huge contracts given to Deshaun Watson, Myles Garrett and Denzel Ward along with good-sized deals for Joel Bitonio, Jack Conklin, Dalvin Tomlinson, Wyatt Teller, David Njoku and Nick Chubb have fans worried about the future. Thankfully, the Browns finally have good players worth paying.

One part of the salary cap that isn’t often discussed is dead cap hits. More and more, to get players to sign and/or through the use of void years, NFL executives are planning around the possibility of dead cap hits. Generally, teams are paying more later in order to have more cash to spend today.

Dead cap hits are a version of credit that must be paid off.

In 2023, Cleveland will be paying just over $16 million in dead cap hits according to Over the Cap:

  • Austin Hooper - $7.5 million
  • John Johnson III - 3.75 million
  • Anthony Walker Jr. - 2.3 million
  • Jadeveon Clowney - 1.6 million
  • Joe Haeg - 500K
  • Tre Harbison III - 236K
  • Richard LeCounte III - 148K

Hooper and JJ3 are examples of free agents that just didn’t work out. Hooper is on the books for the second year in a row for dead cap after being released as a post-June 1st move. Johnson will be on the cap next season for the same reason.

Clowney and Walker (which is really interesting since he re-signed this offseason) are dead cap hits as a part of the void years placed on their contracts in 2022. Clowney will hit the cap again next year.

Haeg, Harbison and LeCounte are lower-level players who had a little left over from their signing bonuses.

As noted, dead cap space is not an unusual tactic to use. The Philadelphia Eagles, Super Bowl participants last season, have over $54 million in dead cap being paid out this season.