On Wednesday morning, the NFL finally informed teams of the 2021 salary cap number. Per several reports, the 2021 NFL salary cap is set for $182.5 million. While that’s an increase from some early estimates, it’s still a significant decrease from last year’s $198.2 million cap—$15.7 million, to be exact.
The decrease in cap was caused by the lost wages from the 2020 season due to lack of fans in the stadium. However, the league and the NFL Players Association came to an agreement last year to spread those losses over several years instead of taking all of the hit in 2021, which would have resulted in an unmanageable cap loss of “tens of millions” of dollars.
Obviously, teams are still struggling to work their way under the cap before the deadline on March 17, and several players will see their contracts terminated to adjust to the overall loss, but this is far from the worst-case scenario for the league.
As for the Detroit Lions, they are already projected to be right up against the $182.5 million cap ($197.7 million including the 2020 rollover cap) after accounting for the cap-cutting moves of releasing Desmond Trufant (will happen) and Christian Jones (already happened), while also restructuring Jamie Collins Sr.’s contract. Still, in order to be active in free agency and afford their upcoming rookie class, expect several other cost-cutting moves to be made over the next week.