NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero are reporting that the NFL is expected to set the salary cap at $208.2 million for the 2022 season, an increase of $25.7 million from the current season.
“Sources say next season’s cap is expected to reach the $208.2 million maximum agreed upon by the NFL and NFL Players Association in May,” NFL network reported. “The final number has not been officially announced, but it’s expected to be revealed at the NFL’s annual labor seminar next week.”
Per the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), each year’s salary cap is influenced by the league's profitability from the previous season. In 2020, with stadiums empty due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NFL’s profitability took a hit and the 2021 salary cap saw a significant drop.
Last offseason, the NFL and NFLPA reached an addendum to CBA, spreading out of losses from the 2020 season, in anticipation of a return to normalcy of profits in 2021 as fans were once again allowed to attend games. Even with a portion of the losses being applied to the 2022 season, this reported increase is significant, and much needed for a Detroit Lions team approaching their second offseason in their rebuild.
Because the league’s profitability is anticipated to continue increasing—due to factors such as a new TV deal, a 17th game added onto the schedule, and other revenue sources—the salary cap is expected to continue to grow in 2023 and beyond.
This is an important reality for Lions’ general manager Brad Holmes, as it allows him to enter the offseason with the confidence that he can offer larger contracts without concerns of them becoming a problem in the future. Last season, Holmes offered several one-year contracts to free agents, as the team worked to fill roster spots without getting locked into any player with the salary cap still in flux.
As things currently stand, the Lions are anticipated to have roughly $40 million in available salary cap space for the 2022 offseason—the 13th most in the NFL, per OverTheCap.com’s projections.
This number is far from solidified as the 2022 salary cap has not been officially announced, the Lions can roll over some unused cap space from 2021, and there are a few potential cap casualties on the roster next season whom the Lions could decide to move on from.
For example, EDGE Trey Flowers has a salary cap number of $23.3 million scheduled for 2022, the second-highest on the team behind quarterback Jared Goff. But if the Lions opt to move on from Flowers this offseason, they could gain nearly $10.4 million in cap space, pushing their overall number above $50 million.
With needs all over the roster, the Lions are still in the early stages of the rebuild and certainly won’t fill all their holes this spring. Although, with this amount of space, Holmes can afford to be aggressive in acquiring talent in free agency.