Scramble'11: Projected division cap space

First in a series on what looms in the NFC North during the mad scramble to assemble teams after the lockout:

I passed along the projected salary cap status of each NFC North team about a week ago, but judging from your questions, you weren't quite in cap mode yet.

But on the occasion of ESPN's John Clayton publishing the projected situations of all 32 teams Wednesday, let's re-purpose our original post. (Very green of me, I know.) I'll list each of our teams followed by some notes below.

Chicago Bears: $37 million under

Detroit Lions: $16.6 million under

Green Bay Packers: $62,000 under

Minnesota Vikings: $5.1 million over

  • These numbers are based on a salary cap of $120 million. They do not include restricted free-agent tenders, which were made in February based on players needing six years of service to qualify for unrestricted free agency. That means the cap numbers will need to be reconciled a bit once the details of restricted free agency are worked out under the new collective bargaining agreement, including the exact value of tenders.

  • The Packers could save $4.2 million in cap space by releasing or trading linebacker Nick Barnett. And assuming right tackle Mark Tauscher doesn't return, the Packers will get back another $4.581 million, according to Clayton.

  • The Vikings could go a number of different directions to get create cap space. One would be releasing receiver Bernard Berrian for a $3.7 million savings, according to Clayton. Another would be negotiating long-term extensions for two prominent players with huge cap numbers. Currently, tailback Adrian Peterson counts more than $12 million against the cap and linebacker Chad Greenway -- the team's franchise player -- is expected to count more than $10 million.

  • There have been many reports about a so-called "floor" that teams will be required to spend to meet player payroll thresholds, an issue that seemingly would impact the Bears. But as ESPN/National Football Post analyst Andrew Brandt has reported, that floor won't be accounted for until the end of the season. So the Bears would not be required to dish out $37 million in cash during the next couple weeks. But they could capitalize on it to sign veterans to extensions during the season.