While the official 2023 NFL salary cap will not be set for weeks, the expectation is that it will increase to over $220 million for next season.
The league takes into account revenue and television deals when determining what the cap will be set at. There was a downtick in 2021 due to the revenue shortfall that came with the COVID-19 pandemic. But this season saw a pretty big increase.
In an article that will be updated consistently throughout the next several months, let’s give you our NFL salary cap projections for all 32 teams with a primary focus on those who are in the best and worst situations right now.
- NFL salary cap numbers provided by Spotrac
Best NFL salary cap situations for 2023
- Chicago Bears salary cap room: $116.03 million
Following the trades of Roquan Smith and Robert Quinn ahead of the in-season NFL trade deadline, Chicago is in position to spend big time once NFL free agency opens in March. General manager Ryan Poles and Co. don’t necessarily have many big-name free agents to think about retaining. In fact, David Montgomery is the most-notable name on that list. He’s likely gone after what we saw from young running back Khalil Herbert before he went down to injury this past season.
For Chicago, this money will have to be used wisely if the team wants to be taken seriously in 2023 and beyond. Justin Fields looks the part of a franchise quarterback. But he needs a number of skill-position upgrades to fully live up to expectations. The trades of Smith and Quinn also created some holes in the defensive front seven.
Related: Highest paid NFL players of 2022
- Atlanta Falcons salary cap room: $52.63 million
Atlanta is in a similar situation as the Bears in that it has holes all over the field. The biggest question here is what the Falcons are going to do at quarterback with Marcus Mariota having been a failure holding down the fort. They could potentially look for a stopgap option in someone like Jimmy Garoppolo, utilizing a good $30 million in cap room.
Atlanta’s projected number under the 2023 NFL salary cap is a bit tenuous with the likes of right tackle Kaleb McGary, wide receiver Olamide Zaccheaus and cornerback Isaiah Oliver all set to hit free agency. Though, the team can also save another $17 million by releasing Mariota and cornerback Casey Hayward.
New York Giants
- New York Giants salary cap room: $54.34 million
This number is about as generic as it gets with quarterback Daniel Jones and running back Saquon Barkley set to hit free agency. Jones has proven he can lead a playoff team and is ascending the rankings of young quarterbacks. If New York does re-sign Jones, said deal will come in at $30-plus million annually. As for Barkley, he’s returned to form as one of the top all-around backs in the game. He’ll demand top-five RB money.
In the midst of a surprising playoff run, the Giants also have the likes of Dalvin Tomlinson and Nick Gates set to hit the open market. Simply put, we don’t expect this team to be huge players in NFL free agency if it retains these four players.
Then again, there’s a chance that general manager Joe Schoen looks to upgrade in some of the areas mentioned above. New York has the ability to move off Kenny Golladay for significant cap savings.
- Cincinnati Bengals cap room: $49.44 million
Cincinnati is in an interesting situation in that the team is competing to win its second consecutive AFC championship. It also has key free agents in that of safeties Jessie Bates and Vonn Bell while having to think long and hard about extending franchise quarterback Joe Burrow.
Even then, the Bengals will have an opportunity during free agency to add to their core group. Whether that includes upgrades at cornerback remains to be seen. But this seems to be the primary need regardless of how the AFC Playoff turn out.
Related: Top 2023 NFL free agents
New England Patriots
- New England Patriots salary cap room: $38.74 million
Having a starting quarterback playing under a rookie deal is absolutely huge for teams in today’s NFL. Mac Jones’ cap hit for the 2023 season is anticipated to be roughly $4.25 million. That’s a major win for Bill Belichick and Co. from a team-building perspective if they opt to keep Jones as QB1 following a down sophomore season.
It must, however, be noted that New England has several key players set to hit NFL free agency this coming March. Re-signing a majority of Devin McCourty, Jonathan Jones, Jakobi Meyers, Isaiah Wynn and Damien Harris would take up a ton of that $38-plus million in cap room. There’s a lot of work for Belichick and his front office to do for this team to get back on track.
Related: NFL’s highest-paid QBs of 2022
Worst NFL salary cap situation for 2023
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers salary cap room: -$54.72 million
Tampa Bay’s situation is as questionable as its division rivals in the Bayou. The team is coming off a disastrous wild card loss to Dallas. There’s an open question about whether seven-time Super Bowl champion Tom Brady will opt to retire or join another team. If he departs, the Bucs are going to cut fat off their roster. If not, they’ll likely push this troublesome cap situation to later years.
The good news? There’s some outs here. It can save $35 million by releasing left tackle Donovan Smith, linebacker Lavonte David and edge rusher Shaq Barrett. If the Bucs want to go into full-scale rebuild mode, trading wide receiver Mike Evans would also save $14.5 million against the 2023 NFL salary cap.
New Orleans Saints
- New Orleans Saints salary cap room: -$53.43 million
New Orleans has pushed back its cap issues for several years now. It’s in this that we can officially conclude that the Saints are in NFL salary cap hell. For a team that finished 2022 with a 7-10 record and doesn’t boast a quarterback of the future, going into full-scale rebuild mode makes the most sense.
This would include trading defensive end Cameron Jordan and cornerback Marshon Lattimore while likely designating Michael Thomas and Jameis Winston as Post-June 1 cuts. These four moves would save nearly $60 million against the cap. Trading Alvin Kamara after that June 1 date would also save $11 million. It’s just something the Saints need to do if they’re going to start anew with a rebuild.
Related: Sportsnaut’s 2023 NFL mock draft
- Tennessee Titans salary cap room: -$27.29 million
There’s a reason why Tennessee opted to trade A.J. Brown rather than make him one of the highest-paid wide receivers in the game. The team knew that its salary cap health wasn’t great before opting to trade Brown to Philadelphia during the 2022 NFL Draft.
Fast forward several months, and there’s a lot of moving parts fora team that lost its final seven games. Quarterback Ryan Tannehill’s future is firmly up in the air with the Titans being able to save a cool $27 million by designating him a post-June 1 cut. Moving off edge rusher Bud Dupree and wide receiver Robert Woods would save another $29.5 million. New general manager Ran Carthon has a lot of work cut out for him.
- Jacksonville Jaguars salary cap room: -$24.0 million
Under Doug Pederson, Jacksonville is a young team. It’s also extremely talented. However, this organization must move on from multiple veteran if it wants to become a top-end conference title contender after earning a surprise playoff appearance in 2022.
The Jags do have this ability with multiple veterans taking up a nice amount of their cap space. Releasing cornerback Shaquill Griffin would save $13.5 million.
NFL salary cap situations for all 32 teams
A total of 12 teams actually currently find themselves over the estimated 2023 NFL salary cap. This starts with a New Orleans Saints squad that will likely have to blow things up after pushing back their financial issues from previous years.
On the other end, another nine teams have more than $20 million to spend under the estimated cap. A lot of this will change in the coming months, but here’s a look at our initial figures.
|Rank||Team||Salary cap room|
|1||Chicago Bears||$116.03 million|
|2||Atlanta Falcons||$52.62 million|
|3||New York Giants||$54.34 million|
|4||Cincinnati Bengals||$49.44 million|
|5||New England Patriots||$38.74 million|
|6||Houston Texans||$41.72 million|
|7||Seattle Seahawks||$38.71 million|
|8||Baltimore Ravens||$34.67 million|
|9||Las Vegas Raiders||$20.85 million|
|10||Indianapolis Colts||$17.54 million|
|11||Detroit Lions||$18.11 million|
|12||Arizona Cardinals||$15.72 million|
|13||Kansas City Chiefs||$14.63 million|
|14||San Francisco 49ers||$12.76 million|
|15||Philadelphia Eagles||$10.53 million|
|16||New York Jets||$7.95 million|
|17||Washington Commanders||$7.56 million|
|18||Denver Broncos||$7.03 million|
|19||Dallas Cowboys||$5.86 million|
|20||Pittsburgh Steelers||-$2.55 million|
|21||Carolina Panthers||-$3.24 million|
|22||Buffalo Bills||-$5.46 million|
|23||Los Angeles Rams||-$12.35 million|
|24||Cleveland Browns||-$12.84 million|
|25||Minnesota Vikings||-$13.16 million|
|26||Miami Dolphins||-$14.98 million|
|27||Jacksonville Jaguars||-$20.96 million|
|28||Los Angeles Chargers||-$21.05 million|
|29||Green Bay Packers||-$21.46 million|
|30||Tennessee Titans||-$27.30 million|
|31||New Orleans Saints||-$53.43 million|
|32||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-$54.75 million|
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.