ESPN’s Field Yates reported that NFL teams recently declared their salary cap rollover amounts from 2021 to the 2022 season, and the Detroit Lions will only be able to move over $1,079,476 in additional cap space.
The Lions fought the salary cap all of 2021. They traded Matthew Stafford, cut several overpriced veterans, and eventually built up $66.9 million in dead cap space, per OverTheCap.com’s tracking report. Add in another $52.2 million invested in players on injured reserve and non-football injury/illness lists, and the Lions were operating most of the season with over half their money tied up in non-contributing players.
Trying to field a roster with less than half the allotted budget was challenging, and part of the reason why the Lions were forced to rely on replacement level players throughout 2021. By the end of the season, the budget got so tight, they needed to renegotiate starting right guard Halapoulivaati Vaitai’s contract to free up $1.335 million in space, just to get through the last few games.
We still don’t know the exact amount of salary cap space the Lions will have entering 2022, because things are still in motion, but we have a rough idea.
Here’s a bullet-point summary of where the Lions are at in mid-January:
- The NFL salary cap was set at $208.2 million for the 2022 season.
- The Lions roll $1,079,476 not used in 2021 forward, bringing their new cap ceiling to $209.3 million.
- That ceiling figure may be adjusted when the league evaluates the incentive-based bonuses following the conclusion of the playoffs. If the Lions over/underpaid bonuses, they may get money added or taken away to/from their cap ceiling.
- Currently, the Lions have 48 players under contract for the 2022 season. However, 10 of them are on reserve/futures contracts that do not count against the salary cap until the new year begins in mid-March.
- The total cap hit of the 38 players whose contracts count against the cap is around $166.2 million.
- They are also carrying a bit over $8.1 in dead cap.
- $209.3 minus $166.2 minus $8.1, leaves the Lions with around $35 million in available space.
Keep in mind this is still a fluid number. The salary cap ceiling will likely be slightly adjusted, players will be released (freeing up more space), and players will be signed ahead of free agency (decreasing the available space). But for now, $35 million puts the Lions slightly ahead of the middle of the league in available cap space entering the 2022 offseason.
A quick look around the NFC North looks like this:
- The Bears rolled over $1.989 million which can be added to their anticipated $39.4 million in 2022 available salary cap space.
- The Vikings rolled over $1.752 million which will help slightly soften the blow of them already being $11.1 million OVER the 2022 allotted salary cap.
- The Packers rolled over $2.891 million which will barely help them with the fact that they are $41.5 million OVER the 2022 salary cap.