A little under a month away from the start of free agency in the NFL, and every general manager and team president across the league is scouring their salary cap situations for some much needed wiggle room.
Like every year, some teams have more cap room than others and will try to use it to their advantage. This year, assuming no major, high-paid players are dropped, the Oakland Raiders have the most cap space with $63 million available heading into free agency.
Next up is the Cleveland Browns with $56.9 million freed up, and then the Jacksonville Jaguars with $47.7 to spend.
Five teams are currently over the cap, which is five more than last year, and the Dallas Cowboys lead the pack at $24 million over and the Pittsburgh Steelers at $10.6 million over.
The Cowboys three biggest cap figures for 2014 belong to quarterback Tony Romo, defensive end DeMarcus Ware and cornerback Brandon Carr. The trio makes up nearly $50 million, or one third, of the $152 million Dallas owes in player contracts next season. All three might have to restructure their contracts if Dallas hopes to make any moves in free agency.
Check out the full list based off figures compiled from Spotrac below:
Most Cap Space 2014
1.Oakland Raiders $63m
2.Cleveland Browns $56.9m
7.Green Bay $28.1m
10.N.Y. Jets $22.1m
15.Tampa Bay $13.7m
16.N.Y. Giants $12.6m
20.San Francisco $6.69m
23.New England $6.1
24.New Orleans $3.7m
26.Kansas City $2.4
27.St. Louis $1m
29.San Diego -$881k
Just by perusing the list several teams and their cap situations raise some concerns and opportunities.
The two teams that jump out the most from the top 10 are the Indianapolis Colts and Green Bay Packers, who both won their divisions and made the playoffs. Green Bay can quickly bolster its 24th ranked pass defense with a big name like Jairus Byrd or Alterraun Verner, while Indy could pluck receiver Eric Decker from Denver to give Andrew Luck a much needed No. 2 target.
The Washington Redskins with roughly $25 million in space could also splurge on a new receiver, or get quarterback Robert Griffin III more protection on the offensive line.
At No. 24 with $3.7 million available, its easy to see why the New Orleans Saints want to place the franchise tag on Jimmy Graham as a tight end rather than the more expensive wide receiver tag the player desires.
The defending AFC champ Broncos also have several questions to answer, and likely won’t be able to bring back both running back Knowshon Moreno and Decker, while maintaining some cap space for receiver Demaryius Thomas, who’s a free agent in 2015.
Free agency and the new league year begins on March 11.