<
>

A quick look at Bengals' rookie cap space

CINCINNATI -- Since we've already broken down the contracts of every Cincinnati Bengals rookie who has so far signed, we'll make this brief.

Below is a quick look at the cap space the Bengals' drafted rookies will eat up with their contracts from now through 2017, when they'll be eligible to negotiate their second NFL deals. Keep in mind, these numbers only include draft picks from Rounds 2-7. First-round pick Darqueze Dennard remains unsigned, although we already have an idea of what his cap value will be across the life of his first contract.

Per the rookie wage scale set forth by the latest collective bargaining agreement, Dennard is scheduled to make just short of $8 million the next four seasons. He also is expected to take up nearly $1.5 million of cap space this season.

With Dennard included, the Bengals' drafted rookies are expected to eat $4,992,654 of cap space in 2014. Currently, without him, the other seven rookies are taking up $3,541,945 in cap space this season.

Why is this important? Because the near $5 million that Bengals rookies will command this season eats into the more than $24 million Cincinnati has remaining in cap space. With the $5 million factored in, the Bengals are closer to $19 million remaining in cap space. That's $19 million that they're still trying to figure out how to split between linebacker Vontaze Burfict and quarterback Andy Dalton in potential new deals. Reports this offseason have indicated that Dalton could command an annual salary of $18 million, while Burfict could take home about $9 million.

Remember, when it comes to cap space and other financial concerns, everything is related. Dennard's deal connects to Dalton's which connects to Burfict's. The numbers reportedly connected to each contract play but a small role in the challenge of trying to sign all three this season. At the very least, Dennard can take solace that he'll eventually see his money this season. There's still a chance that Burfict or Dalton (or both) could play out the season on their current, comparatively low-paying rookie contracts.

Burfict is currently set to make around 570,000 this season. Dalton is scheduled to make nearly $1.7 million.

Here's a look at where the Bengals stand with rookie wages so far: