The Salary Cap Is Goofy. Period.

Dec 25, 2020; New Orleans, Louisiana, USA; Minnesota Vikings head coach Mike Zimmer talks to New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton before their game at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mandatory Credit: Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

Can we all agree that the salary cap is just a Fugazi? Let’s start with how the salary cap is determined for each year.

This year, the salary cap is set at $182.5 million which is an 8% decrease from the $198.2 million salary cap in 2020. Here is how the NFL calculates that set number:

Revenue calculations from last year x CBA % = player revenue share

player revenue share – projected benefits = the amount available for teams

the amount available for teams / number of teams = base salary cap per team

I don’t understand it, you don’t understand it, who cares. Let’s move on.

With the decrease in the salary cap teams had to make unplanned cuts and contract restructures for players. This is where things get interesting. To further explain, I will be using the Minnesota Vikings offseason moves as an example.

The Vikings started the offseason over the salary cap by about $11 million. They cut Riley Reiff to get back to even and they released Kyle Rudolph to save another $5.1 million. Those were the two big moves the Vikings made to get back below the cap. After a few other releases the Vikings were sitting at $10 million in open cap space.

With some money in the bank, it was time for the Vikings to start spending. With $10 million the Vikings went out and signed Dalvin Tomlinson for a 2-year, $22 million deal and they sign Patrick Peterson to a 1-year, $10 million deal. Now, I’m no math whiz, but these numbers lead me to the conclusion that the Vikings are now back over the salary cap. To understand how the Vikings were able to make these moves I checked, which has details on every team’s cap situation and player contracts. According to OverTheCap, Dalvin Tomlinson and Patrick Peterson have cap hits of $6 million and $8 million for the 2021 season.

“Well that must mean that Dalvin Tomlinson is making $16 million in 2022.” I said to myself as I am trying to understand.

No, his cap hit for 2022 is $7.5 million… WHAT?

The final thing that doesn’t make sense are the restructure deals for players. Buckle up for this one.

Let’s assume that the Vikings are back over the cap because from my calculations THEY ARE. Although the Vikings made multiple restructures we will examine Adam Thielen’s restructured contract specifically because it involves the signing bonus. If you don’t know what a signing bonus is, it is basically a way for teams to turn their current problems into future problems.

Adam Thielen restructured his contract so that he gets $10 million as a signing bonus which saved the Vikings another $7.5 in cap space. This means that the $10 million signing bonus will be spread out throughout the remainder of Thielen’s contract.

The takeaway from this should be that you should never stress over your teams salary cap situation. There is always a way for them to get under it.