Andrew Berry and the Cleveland Browns have less than the $198 million maximum to work with in 2021.
But they might have a few more million than expected after the NFL announced a higher floor today.
NFL teams received a memo from the league office announcing an agreement to raise the minimum figure.
Along with the NFLPA, the league set the minimum at $180 million, 5 million more than previously negotiated.
NFL informed teams today the salary cap this season will be a minimum of $180 million.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) February 18, 2021
The final figure might still be a week or two away.
Audits of 2020 financials and more detailed projections of the upcoming season will eventually set the salary cap.
Salary cap watchers projected the 2021 number would land between $180-182 million.
The announcement of the raised negotiating floor does not guarantee their best guesses are wrong.
Players and GMs can cross their fingers that an extra few million will be squeezed into the pot.
But for now, the improved worst-case scenario allows them to plan their 2021 rosters with more precision.
What’s It Mean For the Cleveland Browns?
Cleveland is in a relatively good position when it comes to the salary cap.
While the 2020 audits continue, it appears the Browns rolled over the most 2020 cap dollars across the league.
That $30 million can be used to extend players like Baker Mayfield and Denzel Ward.
Cleveland also sits near the top of 2022 open cap space with just over $20 million.
Teams spent the offseason so far investigating how to manipulate their cap space.
The Cleveland Browns reportedly have at least two of JJ Watt's preferred factors:
"Money and a potential Super Bowl." 👀 https://t.co/Ul4EVsH80f pic.twitter.com/o0ndxw3Er8
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) February 17, 2021
There are projected cuts and expected re-negotiations reported across the league not yet reflected in 2022 numbers.
Fans can bet Andrew Berry is planning how to keep Mayfield, Ward, Nick Chubb, and Joel Bitonio locked up.
But he is just as interested in replacing his top five tacklers on defense, all of whom are free agents.
Cleveland might be the frontrunner to sign J.J. Watt, but there remain voids at the other levels, too.
But with some extra detail and a guaranteed $5 million more to play with, Berry and the Browns might just win the offseason for the third straight time this year.
What Did The NFL and the NFLPA Agree To So Far?
This is what the NFL told each team in today’s memo:
“As you know, one aspect of the agreements negotiated last summer with the NFLPA to address operations during the pandemic provides that the 2021 Salary Cap will be no less than $175 million. Following discussions with the union that addressed both actual 2020 revenues and projected attendance for the 2021 season, we have agreed to increase the minimum Salary cap for the 2021 League Year to $180 million.
“This is not the final Salary Cap for the 2021 League Year, which will be set following review of final 2020 revenue figures and other audit and accounting adjustments. This agreement simply increases the minimum 2021 Salary Cap by $5 million per club, from $175 million to $180 million.
“We will promptly advise all clubs as soon as the Salary Cap is set.”
This is the memo the NFL sent to teams regarding 2021 salary cap. pic.twitter.com/gaimazcL54
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) February 18, 2021
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