On Monday, I showed you where each NFC South team stands regarding the 2013 salary cap. Now, let’s take a little further look and -- as we periodically do here -- check the salary-cap status of each team for future years.
With 75 players under contract for 2014, the Atlanta Falcons have $114 million committed toward a salary cap that’s expected to be a little higher than $120 million. It’s extremely important to remember that quarterback Matt Ryan isn’t one of those players. Ryan’s going to get a contract extension at some point and that means the Falcons are going to face cap obstacles in 2014. The good news is, if the Falcons can get through 2014, they’re set up well to absorb Ryan’s contract in future years. They have 43 players under contract for 2015 with a cap commitment of $62 million (the 2015 cap isn’t expected to be much higher than in 2014). I’m seeing only two teams with lower 2015 cap commitments.
The future is a lot tougher for the next two NFC South teams I’m going to talk about.
The Carolina Panthers already have $133 million committed to 61 players in 2014. That means the Panthers will face another offseason of releases and contract restructures. The Panthers have $119 million committed to 39 players in 2015 and quarterback Cam Newton isn’t one of them. Obviously, general manager Dave Gettleman is going to be digging out from the cap mess left by predecessor Marty Hurney for several more years.
The New Orleans Saints have 63 players under contract and a $148.8 million cap commitment for 2014. That's the second-highest total in the league. The Saints have $130 million committed to 41 players in 2015.
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers have been swimming in cap room for several years, but that’s about to change. At the moment, they have $124 million committed to 60 players in 2014. But there is wiggle room. The Bucs should be able to “carry over’’ about $10 million in unused cap room from this year to next year. I also wouldn’t be surprised if general manager Mark Dominik restructures the deals of Darrelle Revis and Dashon Goldson to push more of their cap hits into 2013. The Bucs could end up having to hand quarterback Josh Freeman a big contract next year and they have some other potential free agents on the horizon. In 2015, the Bucs have $100 million committed to 34 players.