Making sense of the updated cap numbers

What can one learn from examining the updated list of available cap space per team? There are definitely a few teams who are tiptoeing closely to the cap, with not a lot of wiggle room. Some of them are clubs making a Super Bowl push — like Atlanta ($1.2 million under the cap) and Baltimore ($2.6 million). Some are teams trying to get over the playoff hump, like Houston ($866,000 in space) and Detroit ($995,000).

The Vikings, who spent very heavily on salaries during the Brett Favre years, are bearing the brunt of that with the salary cap back in place (after there was no cap in 2010). The Vikings have just $376,000 in space right now. Keep in mind, Adrian Peterson alone counts almost $11 million against the cap in base salary; that number will come down with a new deal.

It’s interesting to note how cap-friendly the Eagles made their deals. Despite signing a plethora of big-name free agents, they still have a few million to spare. And the Colts, after the more team-friendly Peyton Manning deal, are in good shape as well ($6.6 million under).

It’s also true that some of the traditionally smaller-market teams have more salary-cap space than the league-wide average of roughly $11 million. Buffalo ($26 million), Cincinnati ($28 million), Jacksonville ($28 million), Tampa Bay ($30 million) and K.C. ($33 million) have plenty of room to spend. But remember: Beginning in 2013, under the new CBA, all teams will have to spend up to 89 percent of the cap in actual payroll on an annual basis.

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