Clarity On The Salary Cap Drop

March 10th, 2021

“You boys got plenty to work with. Figure it out.”

Chatter at the Sports family today says the 2021 salary cap will check in at $182.5 million per team, a drop of just under $16 million from last year because of pandemic-year losses.

Joe’s thinking this morning about all the blubbering from NFL media types months ago that the cap might drop 15 to 30 percent. It turned out to be around 7 percent.

It just shows what a freakin’ ATM machine the NFL is — and how little it relies on in-stadium attendance.

The NFL found a way to make free agency more exciting than ever with nearly every team being forced to dump name players.

The market will be much more of an unknown next week when the free agency frenzy really kicks on Monday. Joe’s not-so secretly hoping the market somehow turns against running backs — as it often does — and the Bucs find away to bring back Leonard Fournette.

45 Responses to “Clarity On The Salary Cap Drop”

  1. Bobby M. Says:

    I’m not high on Fournette…..the team that drafted him in the first rd decided to move on from him, we nearly cut him because he wasn’t buying in…..He’s more about his own stats then actually winning.

  2. Bird Says:

    I was hoping it would be the ceiling of 185. Every $ is needed. Means the difference from signing someone like suh

  3. PassingThru Says:

    That’s correct Joe. The revenue driver are the parceled television broadcast rights. Season ticket sales, gate, concessions, parking, jerseys, whatever, are just gravy. Owning an NFL franchise is a license to steal. A complete idiot (and there are many among the owners) cannot lose money on a franchise, it’s guaranteed by the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

  4. Thisisouryear!!! Says:

    I was thinking last night that the salary cap and nfl salaries are interesting. In 2000, the salary cap was 62 million and 2020 198 million. In 2000, the highest paid QB was Troy Aikman at 9.5 million and now Dak’s at 43? million. It seems to me QB’s are taking too high of a percentage of the salary cap. I really wish my salary would have doubled in the last 20 years, let alone quadrupled.

  5. Swampbuc Says:

    Bobby M apparently didn;t watch the playoffs or listen to Arians or his teammates. Obviously he didn’t read Lenny’s article in the player’s tribune. I’m sure Bobby M knows more than all those guys, what would they know — you know, the people who he just won a Super Bowl with?

  6. Bucsfan951 Says:

    “A complete idiot (and there are many among the owners)”

    I will gladly be one of those idiots who somehow is successful and stupid enough to own a billon dollar franchise… smh

  7. PassingThru Says:

    It’s frequently not a function of success. It’s called inherited money, sheltered from taxes in form of a trust.

    I’d love to own one as well. NFL and NBA franchises keep appreciating in value, and generate tons of cash.

  8. Casual Observer Says:

    I’m with Joe on Fournette. He is young and played at a high level in the post-season. Best hands (maybe not saying much) among the RBs. More of a big power runner guy. Like that. Hope he stays.

  9. pewter941 Says:

    I saw somewhere we are still a few hundred thousand over the cap, can anyone confirm?

  10. unbelievable Says:

    Fournette is one of the least important guys to bring back.

    Suh, Succop and Shaq are way bigger priorities. But maybe Lenny would take a discount for a shot at another ring.

  11. Mitch Says:

    Lenny was great for parts of last year and especially when it mattered most. I just remember him telling Tom “thanks for having me” during the Super bowl celebration as sort of a goodbye.

  12. Dlavid Says:

    Fournette is history and rightfully so . RoJo is a plenty able . Let Brown walk also ! If Shaq will give the discount great , if not then move on ! Vita was the difference on this Defense ! He is the straw that stirs the drink !

  13. Snook Says:

    I’ve always said this. Butts in the seats don’t matter. Never have. Culverhouse raked it in with an empty Tampa Stadium and the Glazers are used to empty seats. Hasn’t hurt them at all.

  14. AlabamaBucsFan Says:

    Is the Cap # final, taking in the account of the yet announced new NFL TV deal?

  15. Jeebs the Honey Bear Says:

    Lol Dlavid. No way we let Shaq go. He was an integral part of the defense that won us a championship. We don’t win that Packers game without him.

  16. Oxycondoms Says:

    Fournette lost credibility when he pouted when not playing i dont think they pay him

  17. ocala Says:

    I would love to follow the financial advice of these “complete idiot” owners.

  18. Robert Says:

    you think the losses all have to do with covid? A lot of fans have walked away for other obvious reasons.

  19. Cobraboy Says:

    182.5. Now the teams know.

    NOW the real fun begins. Expect many re-signings and re-structures before Monday.

  20. PassingThru Says:

    Ah, the halo effect. Do not mistake ownership capital with financial acumen. Many of the teams are passed from one generation to the next, free of what the middle class pays for inheritance taxes. It isn’t brilliance, it’s called wealth planning, and a decent team of tax attorneys will take care of it for a fee.

    Some owners are self-made, my hat off to them. But the Arthur Blanks and Jerry Jones are not the rule. The ownership of most teams are comprised of either people who inherited a franchise, or took inherited money and bought into a franchise.

  21. Bucsfan951 Says:

    Passing thru

    It seems these “inheritance” owners are dammed if they do and dammed if they don’t in your eyes. They succeed, they were given the team and money to succeed. If they fail, they are just too stupid to make good work their resources.

    Honestly, you sound pissed that you didn’t come from a “well off” family. That’s how it comes off to me.

  22. PassingThru Says:


    Not pissed off, just stating the world from my perspective. I’m not critical of the rich, I’m critical of our tax system in that the middle class subsidizes the wealthy, which is neither equitable nor stable in the long run. But if you really want to know, I’m upper middle class and a CPA and Ivy MBA, which is why I’m somewhat familiar with the world of CLATS, GLATS, trusts and other vehicles that are used to weasel out of paying a fair share. Meanwhile our federal deficit keeps ballooning, which is the one thing all of our kids and grandkids will be inheriting. I hope you appreciate the irony.

  23. Alanbucsfan Says:

    PassingThru- weasel out of paying a fair share – did you think that up yourself? That sounds awfully familiar…

  24. Marine Buc Says:

    If we manage to re-sign Godwin, LVD and Shaq plus bring back Succop, AB, Gronk, Suh – pay for our draft picks and sign @ 15 more depth players I will be completely thrilled and blown away…

  25. Marine Buc Says:

    We can easily replace Fornette in this draft…

    Bring in White to replace Shady McCoy…

  26. SOEbuc Says:

    Don’t need AB. TJ or Godwin 2.0 as I like to call him completes the mega depth between slot and outside WR like AB did this year. I dunno what the hell these people are talking about signing James White or a RB early is the funniest one I’ve heard.


    Ke’Shawn Vaughn Overview:

    “Ke’Shawn Vaughn hits the hole hard and gets big gains when they’re there. He has great contact balance and will carry guys for several yards while they fully try to stop him. He has a good jump cut and pushes the pile hard. He’s athletic. Nothing jumps off the tape other than his exceptional contact balance and his ability to take a hole a long way. He caught enough balls to call it a part of his game, but not enough to get excited about it.

    The big thing that will get him on the field is pass blocking: he was the most efficient pass-blocking running back drafted in 2020, according to PFF. That will go a long way toward keeping Tom Brady upright, which means he steals a lot of snaps from RoJo, who Bruce Arians benched last year for missing a pass-blocking assignment.”

    I don’t know how these people continue to say James White or draft a RB early (lmao). I have know clue why people aren’t willing to let this early round kid test the water his second year.

  27. Jerry Says:

    Saints just cut Emmanuel Sanders and Kwon Alexander. Saints have some work to do to get under this cap

  28. Sorryjackchuckiesback Says:

    This site has some of the most blind takes on football… Could you not see how useless Fornette was during the season… He’s also fake and pretending he’s “learned how to be a team player” and blah blah blah…. Call him playoff Lenny all you want all that means is that he wasn’t giving his all during the season!! You could tell when they were in the playoffs how differently he ran!! He would not risk injury during the regular season and it was all about him… People that constantly have to talk about how humble they are and how they’ve grown into a team player all the time are the most arrogant and just trying to deflect from how he hated it…. Fornette is still not as good a running back as Rojo and they could EASILY find a replacement for him in the draft for what he accomplished during the season! I think Vaughn could easily replace him!! He made some rookie mistakes but he showed potential and he’s hungry!! I’ll take that all day over “playoff Lenny”… I want a guy that’s going to give you his all every practice and every game… That’s NOT “playoff Lenny!!” ….. Easily replaceable for much cheaper!!

  29. Ne+ bucs fan Says:

    Rb aa I said before,dime a dozen,I can’t believe Dallas paid all that $ for Elliot,he’s good but look at ghurly, not sure how to spell t,got his big contract then dissapeared,fournette was great in playoffs but if he wants a big contract,see you later,unless you have a Henry like the Titans,bye bye Lenny,plus the rb’s in the draft,I’d say Tampa can do without Lenny,hate me if you want, just my opinion

  30. PassingThru Says:


    I’m probably not original, I used an old cliche. We’re going off-topic, but I’m just a run-of-the-mill fiscal conservative. I realize a balanced budget is impossible given the shell-game of federal accounting, plus the Keynesian need to stimulate an economy, but I do believe that tax revenues should at least attempt to keep up with federal expenditures. The more they mismatch, the more the fed has to keep issuing debt. The more debt that is issued, the more encumbered future generations become. We get away with it for now due to international reliance on the US dollar. When that reliance fades, demand for dollars will drop. I certainly don’t want my country going there. So to try making a long story short, let’s have an equitable tax system.

  31. Sorryjackchuckiesback Says:

    Robert you are absolutely right… I wasn’t planning on watching this year either until they signed Tom… At that point it was tough not to!! I’ve been going to their games since I was 5 and I’m 44 now… So while cities burned and players kneeled to the torch bearers I was done with the NFL … But Tom, a Trump voter btw brought me back!! Couldn’t help myself

  32. SlyPirate Says:

    Can you imagine having a QB making $40M? Hope he can pass, catch, and block.

  33. Alanbucsfan Says:

    PassingThru –
    Nothing will change, in fact , the borrowing will get worse , and the dollar will lose value because Federal Bureaucracy – the unconstitutional branch of government, has supplanted the will of the People in US Government.

  34. Sorryjackchuckiesback Says:

    I’ve lost my freedom of speech for telling too much truth everywhere else (seems to be a trend in America lately) may as well lose it here too!! Lol

  35. geno711 Says:

    Some good valued takes Passingthru.

    The Athletic has had a series of good articles on the TV money for the NFL and the expiring deals and future deals. Good reads if you have the subscription.

    I appreciate your take because I always say the Republican party changed its course on being the party that looked at fiscal responsibility like the deficit. Now we are talking about whether 3 transgender high school athletes should be playing sports. What a change.

    In 2016, no one was talking about the deficit but Kasich. In 2020, no one still talking about the deficit. Probably at my age the consequences will not matter for me; But it sure is going to matter for my daughter.

  36. Defense Rules Says:

    Hmmm, speaking of salary CAP … I still can’t believe that the owners would cut the salary CAP with so many outstanding contracts that need to be honored (many teams will suffer a severe CAP penalty when they release high $$$ players with lots of dead CAP remaining). It’s extremely short-sighted on the owners part IMO. The chaos that’ll result for many teams (including potentially the Bucs) could very well damage the NFL brand for years to come.

    Eagles are a classic example. They have 65 guys under contract, and right now have a Top-51 CAP of $232,432,193. Bummer when the REAL CAP is supposedly now $182.5 mil. Eagles problem now is that they’ve structured contracts on many of their players such that the CAP hit this year is reasonable, but the dead CAP is through the roof. Their RT (Lane Johnson) is a good example. His CAP Hit is $17.8 mil, but his dead CAP is $39.0 mil. Probably wouldn’t be a good idea to cut him.

  37. Allbuccedup Says:

    When Lavontes contract kicks in we will be about 14 mil over the cap. That means bye bye Shaq and maybe some current roster players.

  38. SOEbuc Says:

    Sorryjack… Yeah Lenny was what I like to call Barber ball all regular season.

  39. Alanbucsfan Says:

    Defense Rules- I think the NFL figures that league profits and competitive balance are the NFL success formula, and the salary cap is a tool that ensures both will be achieved.

  40. Rod Munch Says:

    Good cap managers make the cap do whatever they want.

    The Bucs are about $5m over, when David’s contract kicks in, it only goes to $8.5m over, not $14m since they structured the deal so David only counts $3.5m towards the cap.

    But the Bucs will have to make calls on OJ/Brate and Gholston – that will free up at around $11m. Additionally they’re working on a new deal with Brady, that will likely free up $10m. They can also do new deals with Smith, Jensen, restructure deals with Evans and Marpet – they can probably find another $20m there.

    Anyways, they have $150m (pre-David) for next season, which will likely be around $170m with the new TV deal – so just push everything down the road. I don’t care if we’re mortgaging our future or not – the window to win is open right now. As they did with the David deal, you can get creative and make any number equal just about anything using guarantees.


    Why Joel? Why bring back Fournett? Bucs do not have or have proven to have back that can catch out of the backfield? Rojo and Vaughn have proven they can run. Pick up a back with sure hands. That fits perfect with Brady’s game.


    Sorry auto fill meant Joe

  43. geno711 Says:

    So I know there are a lot of fans saying that New Orleans can keep pushing the cap down the road. Well not really too much anymore.
    In fact, it appears with the 182 million number, their 2nd WR next year will either be Tre’quon Smith or a rookie.
    Their 2nd running back after Kamara will likely be a rookie or a veteran on minimum salary.

    Their starting linebackers will be Demario Davis and a no name guy.
    If they sign Winston like some think, it will be a crazy back loaded contract which I am good with when he fails again that they are saddled with him for years.

    We are looking up so much for our division not only this coming year but at least the next two years.

    Go Bucs!


    geno, careful doesn’t appear it will happen but Carolina is still sniffing around for Watson.

  45. Rod Munch Says:

    geno711 – the Saints DID push their cap hit down the road, they’ve been in “cap hell” for like a decade. They are finally having to pay the price for it. That’s why “cap hell” is fake news, when you can just push things out for nearly a decade, that’s hardly hell. They have to go through a reset season this year, and they’ll likely use it to figure out if Jameis or Hill is their guy, and then likely next year they’re right back to being a playoff team. Some hell that is.