The 2023 NFL free agency period is around the corner and teams are frantically working the salary cap books to free up space before the official frenzy kicks off on March 15- and the legal tampering period begins on March 13. Even after their blockbuster NFL Draft trade with the Carolina Panthers involving DJ Moore, the Chicago Bears are still king of the salary cap hill.
Out of all the assets a team can have, cap space is arguably the most important. It allows teams to sign free agents, swing big trades and maybe take advantage of some of their cap-strapped foes. With that in mind, here is every team’s cap space heading into the 2023 free agency period.
Team Cap figures courtesy of Spotrac and Over The Cap
1. Chicago Bears: $75,600,862
The Bears not only managed to trade the no. 1 pick in the NFL Draft to the Panthers for the no. 9 pick in the draft, three future picks and DJ Moore, but they also managed to retain their standing as the NFL team with the most salary cap space heading into free agency. Moore has a $20 million cap hit but the Bears still have a significant lead over the Atlanta Falcons in the arms race for cap space. That, and their treasure chest of draft picks, should have general manager Ryan Poles feeling good heading into free agency and the draft.
2. Atlanta Falcons: $63,778,944
While the Panthers have made strides, the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers remain in less-than-ideal cap space situations. That means that the Atlanta Falcons, with over $63 million in cap space, reign supreme in the NFS South, thanks in part to the release of Marcus Mariota, which saved the team $12 million. With a pick inside the top-10 in the NFL Draft and a bevy of money to spend, the arrow is pointing upward in Atlanta.
3. Las Vegas Raiders: $47,251,640
The Las Vegas Raiders were already in an enviable spot when it came to the cap entering the offseason. But the release of Derek Carr, which saved $29.25 million in space, and the restructure of Maxx Crosby’s deal, which cleared $7.5 million, have the Raiders sitting pretty. Likely to select a quarterback in the NFL Draft, the Raiders have the means to add solid pieces around their next quarterback in free agency.
4. Houston Texans: $41,259,823
With so little dead money owed, the Houston Texans are in as good a position as any team in the league. A decision on Brandin Cooks looms, though the Texans, with two picks inside the top-15 in the NFL Draft and a new head coach in DeMeco Ryans, have as much optimism surrounding the franchise in quite some time.
5. Arizona Cardinals: $36,997,631
With a series of moves, including the releases of Chosen Anderson, Rodney Hudson and Markus Golden, as well as the contract restructure of DJ Humphries, the Cardinals have created a significant amount of cap space. And the team likely isn’t finished maneuvering the books.
6. Cincinnati Bengals: $35,547,532
The Cincinnati Bengals, who have made it to the Super Bowl in 2021 and the AFC Championship game in 2022, have the sixth-most cap space in the league. That will change once star quarterback Joe Burrow gets a contract extension, though there’s still wiggle room to keep improving one of the best teams in the NFL.
7. Denver Broncos: $33,861,307
The Denver Broncos, who had just over $12 million in cap space at the beginning of February, have made tremendous strides. Denver cleared up a massive chunk of cap space with the releases of Ronald Darby, Graham Glasgow and Chase Edmonds. With Sean Payton now set to pace the sidelines and Russell Wilson still under center, this is a team in win-now mode. Expect their free agency strategy to reflect that mindset.
8. New England Patriots: $32,660,470
The New England Patriots entered the offseason with a large amount of cap space- and even some room to create more. However, such moves would come at the extent of next year’s cap, likely something on the team’s mind as they mull such options. Even if the Patriots opt to forego restructuring the likes of Matthew Judon’s contract, they are likely to remain in an enviable position entering free agency.
9. Miami Dolphins: $29,906,946
Another team that has made major strides, the Miami Dolphins were $16 million over the salary cap but restructured the contracts of Tyreek Hill and Terron Armstead, freeing up a huge chunk of room. Despite rumors suggesting they’d pursue all options at quarterback, the Dolphins picked up Tua Tagovailoa’s fifth-year option- and seem to be moving forward with him at the position. That doesn’t mean that this team, one of the most active last offseason, won’t do the same this year.
10. Tennessee Titans: $27,283,525
Tennessee Titans general manager Ron Carthon has said he wants to “reload” not rebuild. His salary cap strategy reflects that, as the Titans have parted ways with the likes of Taylor Lewan, Robert Woods, Zach Cunningham, Randy Bullock and Ben Jones, with Bud Dupree another set to be released. All told, Tennessee has cleared out nearly $50 million in cap space. While an NFL free agency spending spree isn’t likely, the Titans could be more aggressive than people expect, with this much money to work with.
11. Green Bay Packers: $24,816,991
Aaron Rodgers’ potential trade looms large over the Green Bay Packers, but that hasn’t stopped them from tinkering with the books. Among the notable NFL cap space moves were the Packers’ restructuring of the David Bakhtiari, Jaire Alexander and Preston Smith. As such, the Packers have gone from $17 million over the cap to nearly $25 million under it. The Packers would seem to have some flexibility, given the potential draft capital they could get in a Rodgers trade, moving forward even with a change at the quarterback position, given their cap space.
12. Carolina Panthers: $23,570,287
The Carolina Panthers went from $9 million over the cap to $23,570,287 under it, due largely to a restructure of OT Taylor Moton’s contract that freed up as much as $11 million in space.
13. Detroit Lions: $21,370,665
Of the Detroit Lions’ notables moves was the release of veteran Michael Brockers, which saved the team $10 million in cap room. Coming off of a solid 2022 season and armed with a pick inside the top-10, the Lions might just be ready to content in 2023.
14. Seattle Seahawks: $21,293,071
While a bit misleading due to contracts needed for the players they draft, the Seahawks managed to free up as much as $6.5 million by cutting Gabe Jackson, just as they committed a significant amount of their cap to Geno Smith.
15. Los Angeles Chargers: $19,545,886
What a cap space turnaround by the Los Angeles Chargers. LA managed to restructure the contracts of four key players: Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Joey Bosa and Khalil Mack. The moves freed up $40.37 million in space, resulting in the $19 million of cap space the team has to work with at the moment. With some needs to fill in free agency and a contract extension for quarterback Justin Herbert looming, there may be more moves on the horizon.
16. New York Giants: $18,626,080
The New York Giants had the fifth-most cap space in the league in February, though a massive contract extension for Daniel Jones and the franchise tag for Saquon Barkley lowered that number significantly. Even still, general manager Joe Schoen is indicating that the team will go shopping in NFL free agency, so more releases or restructures should be expected.
17. Washington Commanders: $16,575,335
The Washington Commanders parted ways with Carson Wentz and Bobby McCain, saving almost $29 million in space.
18. Kansas City Chiefs: $15,180,600
The Kansas City Chiefs have been quiet on the restructure front but that doesn’t mean moves aren’t coming. Among the contracts that could be tinkered are Patrick Mahomes’, Justin Reid’s and Marquez Valdes-Scantling’s.
19. Indianapolis Colts: $12,713,608
Like the Kansas City Chiefs, the Indianapolis Colts have done little with the cap. However, with an obvious cut candidate like Matt Ryan, among others, on the roster, expect the Colts to make something happen before the calendar switches to the new league year.
20. Dallas Cowboys: $12,375,443
The Dallas Cowboys saved nearly $30 million in cap space by restructuring Dak Prescott and Zack Martin’s contracts. Jerry Jones didn’t rule out any free agent moves, though one would have to think the Cowboys would tinker with other contracts in order to be active in NFL free agency.
21. New York Jets: $11,600,000
With an Aaron Rodgers trade potentially in the works, the Jets have made a bevy of moves to create NFL cap space, restructuring the contracts of CJ Uzomah, Laken Tomlinson, DJ Reed and Tyler Conklin. With some contracts that can still be shed, expect more moves from the Jets.
22. Pittsburgh Steelers: $11,097,584
The Steelers cleared a hefty chunk of change by cutting William Jackson III, who didn’t even play for Pittsburgh after his trade from the Commanders. Potentially more moves could be on the way before the free agency period begins.
23. Philadelphia Eagles: $8,852,592
The Philadelphia Eagles restructured kicker Jake Elliott’s contract, saving $2.5 million in cap space. However, with a bevy of free agents set to depart that the team might like to keep and a contract extension for Jalen Hurts on the to-do list, expect the team to continue to be flexible with restructures.
24. San Francisco 49ers: $7,815,851
The San Francisco 49ers have little cap room at the moment, but that could quickly change if the team opts to restructure the contracts of players like Christian McCaffrey or Trent Williams, Stay tuned.
25. Jacksonville Jaguars: $6,939,527
The Jaguars created a huge chunk of space by restructuring Christian Kirk, Zay Jones, and Brandon Scherff’s contracts. The franchise also cut corner Shaquill Griffin, a move that saved them some additional space.
26. Baltimore Ravens: -$2,211,693
The Ravens, who have a near-$32 million cap hit for Lamar Jackson’s franchise tag, which has prompted the team to deal Chuck Clark and restructure Michael Pierce’s contract. But more moves are likely on the way.
27. Tampa Bay Buccaneers: -$5,635,621
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers had one of the worst salary cap situations in the league and have been hard at work to rectify it. Restructures of Vita Vea, Carlton Davis, Ryan Jensen and Chris Godwin have created nearly $44 million in NFL cap space.
28. Minnesota Vikings: -$7,436,216
A flurry of tough moves, including the releases of fan favorites Eric Kendricks and Adam Thielen, have created significant NFL cap space. But more restructures and releases are likely on the way with the Vikings still over the cap.
29. Los Angeles Rams: -$9,080,552
The F*** them picks strategy has had its consequences, as the Rams have been working to rectify a nightmarish cap situation. The team has fielded trade calls on as many as nine players, according to general manager Les Snead, per PFT. The team released linebackers Bobby Wagner and Leonard Floyd with more potentially on the way.
30. Cleveland Browns: -$14,049,131
The Browns are in the salary cap dumps at the moment but don’t expect that to continue. The team is reportedly planning on restructuring Deshaun Watson’s monster contract, which would free up a significant amount of NFL cap space.
31. Buffalo Bills: -$19,184,694
The Bills have been quiet on the restructure front but general manager Brandon Beane indicated that such moves are coming. Josh Allen, Von Miller and Matt Milano make sense as candidates to have their contracts tinkered with to create room for free agency.
32. New Orleans Saints: -$25,272,929
The New Orleans Saints were able to sign quarterback Derek Carr thanks to a structured deal that was more cap-friendly to the team. But make no mistake. The Saints, who have already restructured the deals of Ryan Ramczyk, Andrus Peat, Demario Davis and Taysom Hill, likely have more on their to-do list to get compliant with the cap before the new league year.