The official 2023 NFL salary cap has been set. On Jan. 30, the league announced a spending limit set to $224.8 million for the 2023-24 season, a $16.6 million increase over last year’s amount.
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: $98.84 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 2023
- Atlanta Falcons salary cap room: $55.47 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.
Las Vegas Raiders
- Las Vegas Raiders salary cap room: $46.29 million
Fresh off a disastrous first season under Josh McDaniels, the Raiders are set up well to be active in NFL free agency. That’s primarily due to the $29.25 million Vegas saved against the NFL salary cap by releasing long-time starter Derek Carr.
It must be noted that the Raiders are expected to go big-game hunting at the quarterback position this offseason. Aaron Rodgers is a real possibility. That would obviously take up a ton of Vegas’ cap room.
New York Giants
- New York Giants salary cap room: $43.15 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 $40-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.
Having just completed a surprising 2022 season, 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.
New England Patriots
- New England Patriots salary cap room: $36.41 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 2023
- Cincinnati Bengals cap room: $36.23 million
Cincinnati is in an interesting situation in that the team was competing to win its second consecutive AFC championship before calling to Kansas City. 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.
- Houston Texans cap room: $35.37 million
Fresh off hiring DeMeco Ryans as their next head coach, the Texans are set up pretty well to succeed this offseason. From an NFL salary cap perspective, the downtrodden organization can also save another $12 or so million by moving off multiple veterans who don’t have a future with the team. But like others on this list, the quarterback situation remains unsettled. That could take up a huge sum of Houston’s cap space moving forward.
Related: Top 2023 NFL free agents
Worst NFL salary cap situation for 2023
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers salary cap room: -$57.02 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. Despite Tom Brady’s decision to retire, it didn’t create any cap savings as Tampa Bay opted to take the full cap hit this offseason.
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: -$29.98 million
Seeking a new quarterback and, ideally, a trip back to the playoffs for the first time since 2020, Saints GM Mickey Loomis will once again have a lot of work to do before breaking even. There isn’t an obvious cut candidate who can provide immediate cap savings.
But there are always opportunities to restructure contracts which could lead to some additions this offseason. Still, don’t expect the Saints to be big spenders.
Related: Sportsnaut’s 2023 NFL mock draft
- Minnesota Vikings salary cap room: $-20.19 million
Minnesota will have some difficult decisions to make ahead of the start of NFL free agency. Kirk Cousins’ $36.29 million cap number for 2023 is an albatross. It’s highly unlikely that the Vikings will restructure said deal and link themselves to Cousins beyond the 2023 campaign, yet a short-extension could be in order.
Another scenario could include seeing veterans Adam Thielen, Harrison Smith, Za’Darius Smith, and Eric Kendricks released here soon. Cutting the four would save north of $34 million against the cap. If they were designated post-June 1 cuts, said savings would increase to $52 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||$98.84 million|
|2||Atlanta Falcons||$55.47 million|
|3||Las Vegas Raiders||$46.28 million|
|4||New York Giants||$43.15 million|
|5||New England Patriots||$36.41 million|
|6||Cincinnati Bengals||$36.23 million|
|7||Houston Texans||$35.37 million|
|8||Washington Commanders||$34.69 million|
|9||Baltimore Ravens||$25.98 million|
|10||Seattle Seahawks||$24.74 million|
|11||Detroit Lions||$23.13 million|
|12||Arizona Cardinals||$12.72 million|
|13||Denver Broncos||$12.24 million|
|14||Indianapolis Colts||$11.99 million|
|15||Tennessee Titans||$9.97 million|
|16||Green Bay Packers||$5.89 million|
|17||San Francisco 49ers||$2.52 million|
|18||Philadelphia Eagles||$1.11 million|
|20||Kansas City Chiefs||-$473,000|
|21||New York Jets||-$1.11 million|
|22||Carolina Panthers||-$4.16 million|
|23||Dallas Cowboys||-$7.49 million|
|24||Jacksonville Jaguars||-$12.45 million|
|25||Los Angeles Rams||-$14.2 million|
|26||Cleveland Browns||-$14.37 million|
|27||Miami Dolphins||-$15.31 million|
|29||Buffalo Bills||-$18.73 million|
|29||Los Angeles Chargers||-$19.92 million|
|30||Minnesota Vikings||-$20.19 million|
|31||New Orleans Saints||-$29.97 million|
|32||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||-$57.02 million|
This article was originally published on Sportsnaut.com and is republished here with permission.