While the reports are out there that VP of player personnel Steve Keim is negotiating to become the next Cardinals’ general manager, the next GM — whether it was going to be Keim or someone else — will have some work to do.
According to figures reported by John Clayton, the Cards are currently set to come in around $720,000 above the 2013 salary cap. That means at the very least there will be some restructuring to do. To have any flexibility for free agents or the like will take some paperwork. That’s why, beyond Kevin Kolb’s injuries, it will be important to try and restructure his deal (his cap number is around $13 million this coming season), or extend safety Kerry Rhodes ($6M), or make a call on linebacker Stewart Bradley ($6.5M). The cap numbers of Larry Fitzgerald (more than $10M), Darnell Dockett ($7.7M) and Adrian Wilson (more than $5M) also could be looked at in some way, shape or form.
Cap space can be found quickly if necessary, and it doesn’t have to be at the cost of losing a player outright, necessarily. Sometimes it just is a matter of shifting contract language. But there is little question there is work to be done.
Most cap space to come, according to Clayton? The Bengals, with more than $55 million. The least? The Jets, at more than $19M on the negative side.
Tags: Adrian Wilson, Bengals, Darnell Dockett, Jets, Kerry Rhodes, Kevin Kolb, Larry Fitzgerald, salary cap, Stewart Bradley
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Now that the roster for training camp is (virtually) set with 90 players, the Cardinals are in a decent place with their salary cap space. Thanks to a list from profootballtalk.com, we know the Cards have about $4.55 million in cap space right now. It’s not a ton, but 13 teams have less and since the Cards have signed all their draft picks, it is a reasonable amount of space heading to Flagstaff.
Even if the Cards don’t make another move, the cap space will change depending on their final roster. Right now the number is the top 51 cap numbers on the roster; when the regular season starts that will include all 53 on the roster as well as anyone on injured reserve and the practice squad.
Tags: salary cap
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No, nothing new is brewing on the Calais Campbell contract front. Right now, the franchise-tagged defensive end remains unsigned and isn’t around. To refresh the details, the tag means he will be a Card in 2012 for sure, but until he signs, he’s under no obligation to come to anything.
(Technically, the Cards could also pull the tag at any point before it’s signed, but that would never happen.)
The Cards, by last report out there in cyberspace, had about $2.5 million of cap space. There has been a lot of speculation that a new long-term deal for Campbell would create more, and that’s true. How much, though, is the question. Campbell’s current cap number (tagged players count even as they aren’t signed) is around $10.7M. Now, there are a million ways to structure a contract, and many of them would shave that number down. But let’s say, for instance, Campbell gets a five-year contract. Given the amount of “guaranteed” money — normally, money in those first three years of the deal — he’d probably command (it’s going to be north of $20 million), that’s a good chunk that comes up early in the deal. Whatever you take away from the current cap number, it’s going to be pushed into the next couple years, pressing future caps anyway. It’s not like signing him will suddenly create $10M of cap space.
Of course, just trimming Campbell’s cap number to, say, $7.5M gains more than $3M of space, and at this point, given the roster, that probably would be fine heading into the season. The deadline to sign Campbell to such a deal is a little more than two months away.
Tags: Calais Campbell, salary cap
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With the offseason workout program finally beginning Monday and the ramp up to the draft charging forward, tomorrow is a good time for me to hold a pre-draft live chat (you can access it right here) tomorrow — Thursday — at 1 p.m. Arizona time (4 p.m. Eastern). I’ll do what I can to advance the topic. Of course, there are other things we can talk about. Aaron Wilson tweeted today that the Cards are down to four figures worth of salary cap space as of Wednesday. As I have mentioned before, cap space can be a fluid thing, but clearly the Cards will have to make some moves before they sign draft picks or even more free agents, in all probability.
Tags: live chat, salary cap
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As of today, profootballtalk.com came out with a list of the current salary cap space for every team, revealing that the Cards have $2.1 million worth of room after their moves thus far. It’s no longer the least space in the league — four teams have less and the Cowboys are also at $2.1M — and gives the Cards a little breathing room right now.
The latest Demetrius Bell information is simply that the tackle has yet to sign anywhere, and I believe the Cards remain interested in signing him. As I have mentioned before, his number of visits while remaining unsigned usually points to a salary desire that’s higher than market value. There’s always a chance that could change. Bell has reportedly visited the Packers and Redskins besides the Cards, and he’s now in Pittsburgh and has a visit lined up with the Eagles, who lost stud starter Jason Peters to a ruptured Achilles tendon during an offseason workout. Demand is climbing, so Bell might have been smart to wait. He may not leave Pennsylvania.
The Cards will continue to monitor the free-agent market and by now, Bell aside, most players are coming down in price because teams are beginning to set rosters. The last thing you want as a free agent is to be without a team by the draft, because once teams draft players, they aren’t filling holes with anything but guys that can be had on the cheap, usually.
Tags: Demetrius Bell, free agency, salary cap
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The Cardinals are up close to the salary cap. How close, I am not certain — a lot is fluid these days — but it is clear it impacts their ability in the free agent market. For everyone expecting (or for those who had been expecting) a chase of five or six key free agents, it was never going to happen. I’ve been asked a few times my opinion of what the priority right now should be, and I still see a tackle, a pass rusher and then a receiver. Something could (should?) still come in free agency. The draft will be crucial and likely a more important aspect.
Clearing cap space, however, is not always simple. Even when you cut a player, there is “dead” money to take into account, and usually, the players making the most money when it comes to to impacting the cap are the guys you can’t necessarily throw away. You cut a starter or a key reserve, he’s got to be replaced.
When a player restructures his contract, it is not a pay cut. Lowering the cap hit by cutting salary or bonus is just that — taking a pay cut. Restructuring merely means moving the money around legally to ease the current cap hit. Players usually aren’t adverse because in almost every case, to do so means giving the player more of his money now. But it also means that the cap pain is pushed into the future, not eliminated entirely.
For explanation’s sake, let’s look at linebacker Stewart Bradley. This season, his salary cap number is $6.5 million: a $5 million salary, $500,000 workout bonus for the offseason and $1M prorated signing bonus. He has four years remaining on his contract. The Cards could, in theory, turn $4M of his salary into some kind of signing bonus. Bradley would get $4M of his $5M salary now (rather than have it parceled over 17 weeks of the regular season), and the Cards could then pro-rate that $4M over the final four years of the deal — meaning his cap number would drop to $3.5M this season: His $1M salary, his $1M signing bonus pro-rate, his $1M option bonus pro-rate, and the $500,000 workout bonus. But it also means next year’s cap number would grow from $6.5M to $7.5M, assuming nothing else changes and he remains on the team (cutting him would create extra “dead” money too.)
Do that once or twice, OK. Do it too often, and you end up like the 2012 Steelers, who had to cut a bunch of players and restructure a bunch more just to get under the cap (and again, those restructures will come home to roost eventually.) Just something else to keep in mind when wondering when the Cards are going to create more cap room.
P.S. I haven’t yet seen the signing bonus for tackle Levi Brown, but the NFLPA website lists his 2012 salary at only $1 million (it had been scheduled for $8.3M before he was cut). The salary jumps to $4.75M in 2013, $6M in 2014 and then $5M in each of the final two years of the deal. Without the bonus it’s impossible to know the current cap hit, but that salary structure eases a lot of cap issues.
Tags: Levi Brown, salary cap, Stewart Bradley
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Eventually, the cap situation for the Cardinals was going to force further roster moves, and while they had been out there over the weekend, the team officially announced the cuts of guard Rex Hadnot and wide receive Chansi Stuckey Monday.
Hadnot started all of 2011 but the team had been looking to upgrade and when they signed Adam Snyder it gave the Cards the room to make a move. Stuckey never seemed to find traction for playing time after his costly fumble in Washington ended the Cards’ chances on a late drive.
And in the end, the Cards also need to clear salary cap space where they can. UPDATE: By my calculations, Cards saved about $3 million in cap space with the moves.
Tags: Chansi Stuckey, free agency, Rex Hadnot, salary cap
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The NFL announced Monday,with free agency so close, that they were hitting the Redskins and Cowboys with removal of cap space this year and next because of violations when the league was uncapped in 2011. The details aren’t as important for the Cards except for the part where the league is giving that extra cap space to 28 other teams (the Saints and Raiders had minor infractions so they don’t get extra space, but they aren’t docked either.)
The extra space is $1.6 million, according to ESPN. At this point, any little bit helps for the Cards. The next day or so, when teams must comply with the cap and begin free agency, could be busy across the league and have results like today when the Texans surprisingly cut right tackle Eric Winston for cap reasons.
Wow, a post that didn’t mention Pey … dang it!
Tags: Cowboys, free agency, Redskins, salary cap
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On the day the football world stood still — at least in Arizona — while waiting to see the puff of white smoke in Tempe while Peyton Manning visits the Cardinals, it was interesting to see the NFL finally set the 2012 salary cap.
The cap, set at $120.6 million, is only a very, very slight increase from 2011, which means all those contracts that go up the next year become a bigger burden. It’s a big deal for the Cards, who need to get under the cap and, of course, are trying to find a way to sign Manning. Understand, the Cards can make happen whatever they want to make happen. As has been said many times, T Levi Brown will have to be released, but that’s a 16.9M cap number right there. As has been noted a few times, the future of Kevin Kolb is in limbo right now, since the Cards have to decide on his $7M roster bonus by the end of the week (and because I know it will be asked, Kolb is a $10M cap hit on the roster and $8M if he is released, according to the numbers I have seen.) The franchise tag price of $10.605M for DE Calais Campbell could be lowered too with a long-term deal (although that is easier said than done in a lot of ways; Campbell and his agent aren’t going to negotiate his chance for a big deal down just because of Manning.)
I know everyone wants to know if Manning is signing, when is he signing, etc. We will see. Obviously more things are going on than we know about. Fitz said yesterday he didn’t know anything yet he was able to show up today to meet with Manning. There’s always something under the surface.
I wish I had more answers. I’m waiting like everyone else. (OK, not quite like everyone else, but you get what I mean.)
Tags: Calais Campbell, free agency, Kevin Kolb, Peyton Manning, salary cap
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One of the factors in the Great Peyton Manning Race Of 2012 is going to be his contract demands and what that means for each team. (He said he isn’t looking for a bunch of guarantees, but the market, and all the teams involved, is going to render that moot. He’s going to get guarantees, and they will be pretty big, I’d guess.) A lot of people want to know where the Cards stand with their cap space, but that’s not easily determined right now. Teams haven’t been told yet, with free agency — and the need to be compliant with the cap — beginning Tuesday, what the 2012 cap number will be. There have been guesses it will be a little north of $120 million, but it has yet to be set.
So when, for instance, John Clayton says the Cards only have $3.1 million in cap space, that’s an estimate for now. Then again, it’s clear there won’t be a ton of room. They will clear a lot when they do something with the $16.9M cap number of tackle Levi Brown (at this point, I’ll be shocked if he doesn’t force a chance to be on the open market). But there are other alternatives.
General manager Rod Graves said other restructures, beyond Brown, are possible. “Depending on where the cap falls, there may be a need for us to take a look at it at some point,” Graves said. “We’re not ruling it out.”
Whether that means guys like Larry Fitzgerald or someone like Stewart Bradley, for instance, is anyone’s guess. Keep in mind when a player of Fitz’s stature re-does his deal, all it is doing is pushing cap space into the future, and can become a future problem to buy time today. That’s what the Steelers have been going through and why they’ve had a big purge of late. It’s a juggling act.
Tags: free agency, salary cap
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