It will not be long now before the league announces what the salary cap will be officially, but according to the latest reports, including one from Pro Football Talk yesterday, it is expected to be “at least $178 million” in 2018, and could exceed $179 million.
In fact, it’s actually somewhat likely that it will exceed $179 million, as with the progressive rise of the salary cap in recent years since the stagnation of the early portion of this decade, we have seen a recurring pattern. The cap has routinely come in at a number exceeding even the most optimistic projections.
Those most informed have not quite been operating under this assumption, at least just yet. For example, Over the Cap has been working with a projected salary cap of about $178 million for some time now, some what I can gather. To take a look at the Steelers’ page on their website, they have a Rule of 51 current cap hit of $174,544,661, but are projected to have $6,540,224 in cap space. The Steelers are carrying over roughly $4 million from last season and have roughly another $1 million in dead money, which makes the numbers work out in the end.
We have also been using a projected salary cap of $178 million, as Dave Bryan’s recent run-down shows. Now, it goes without saying that the more the salary cap goes up, the better it is for Pittsburgh, whose top priority at the moment (regardless of debates over its wisdom) is getting Le’Veon Bell signed, even if that includes at least temporarily putting the franchise tag on him, costing over $14.5 million.
The NFL operated under a salary cap value of $168 million last week, a number that they set close to a year ago at this time, give or take a few days. According to Mike Florio’s sources, then, it is expected to rise by at least $10 million (which most have been anticipating) and perhaps even $11 or $12 million.
As Florio points out in his article, the salary cap’s final number is a product of negotiation between the NFL and the NFLPA. It goes without saying that the NFLPA is interested in seeing it rise as high as possible, because it means more money for the players.
And there is ample reason to believe that the cap will continue to rise in the coming years, fresh off of a new deal with Fox for Thursday Night Football broadcasting. The NFL’s previous deals for the program represented a value of $450 million per year, and has now risen, depending on the varying reports, to at least $550 million, and perhaps $650 million.
One has to wonder how near it all is to its plateau. It can’t be too far off. But the ripple effects of the recent television deals will still be felt in the rising of the salary cap for at least the next few years.