Coming out of the lockout, teams had the ability to "borrow" $3 million from future salary caps in 2011 in order to create extra cap space. According to Tom Lewand, the president of the Detroit Lions, around 20 teams decided to take advantage of this last season, including the Lions.
Teams can borrow an additional $1.5 million against future salary caps in 2012. In total, the potential exists for teams to create a maximum of $4.5 million in cap space over two years. The incentive for teams to do this is to give themselves more cap room, but the down side is that they will have to essentially make up for that extra space in the future.
According to the collective bargaining agreement, the borrowed money will count against the team’s salary cap at some point during the 2014-17 seasons. The Lions can determine how they want to spread the cap hit during those seasons.
Lewand, who likened this to using a credit card in the real world, declined to share the specific amount of money the Lions borrowed in 2011. He also did not say whether or not the Lions will utilize this again in 2012.