49ers

NFL salary cap for 2017 up more than $12 million from 2016 season

NFL salary cap for 2017 up more than $12 million from 2016 season

NEW YORK -- The NFL salary cap for the upcoming season will be $167 million per team, up more than $12 million over last year.

The league and the NFL Players Association compile the cap from specific revenues, and it has risen annually. It was $143.28 million two years ago.

This is the fourth consecutive year the cap has risen at least $10 million.

Player benefits also are included under the 10-year labor agreement reached to end the 2011 lockout. That comes to $37 million per team, bringing the players' total compensation package to over $200 million per club for the first time.

In comparison, baseball had 12 teams with luxury-tax payrolls beyond $167 million in 2016.

Since 2011, the cap has increased by $47 million.

Also, 2017 is the first year of a four-season minimum spending period of 89 percent per club and 95 percent leaguewide.

The added cap room should have a major impact on teams' spending when the NFL's new year begins next Thursday.

"A lot," Seahawks general manager John Schneider said Wednesday at the NFL combine in Indianapolis. "It's an ongoing process, trying to make sure you can hang on to your top players all the time, what we view as our core players. A lot of times when we do those deals we're like: 'Hey, look, there's going to be some tough decisions that are made. There's going to be some guys that have to leave.' It's just part of the game.

"This year in particular I think you see there's a huge discrepancy in terms of cap space with a number of teams. It's what the NFL's about. It's about parity, and so you have those teams that are just going to be able to that much more than you possibly can. It's all about trying to move those pieces around and try to stay in the game with the free agents and your own free agents as much as you possibly can."

Seven players were given franchise tags this year: Redskins QB Kirk Cousins and Rams CB Trumaine Johnson, both for the second straight year; Steelers RB Le'Veon Bell; Giants DE Jason Pierre-Paul; Cardinals LB Chandler Jones; Chargers LB Melvin Ingram; and Panthers DT Kawann Short. Only Cousins and Bell got exclusive tags, meaning no team can talk to them except their current club. Compensation would go to any team losing a non-exclusive franchise player in the form of two first-round draft picks.

Quarterback, of course, has the highest franchise tag tender at $21.268 million. Next is defensive end ($16.934 million), followed by wide receiver ($15.682 million). Then it's linebacker ($14.550 million), offensive line ($14.271 million), cornerback ($14.212 million), defensive tackle ($13.387 million), running back ($12.120 million), safety ($10.896 million), tight end ($9.78 million) and kicker/punter ($4.835 million).

Pittsburgh GM Kevin Colbert believes more teams are taking the path the Steelers usually do of developing players they draft and rewarding their own free agents.

"As a result, you're seeing less and less quality free agents (on the market)," Colbert said. "There's an inherent danger in that, because some of the players who are hitting the market with the number of dollars that are available might not be quite worth what they're going to get paid because of the supply and demand. And I think that's reflective in a lot of the early cuts, the five- and six-year-deal guys who usually get cut after two or three, because maybe they were oversigned.

"I think that it reinforces that you're wanting to sign your own and keep your own. But again, you have to be careful about the free agent market and not overpay for maybe an average player."

Yet, beginning next week, the money will flow to many free agents, even though this crop seems lacking in franchise-type players.

LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’

lebron-kap-us-ap.jpg
USATSI/AP

LeBron James: Colin Kaepernick ‘had a vision like Martin Luther King’

LeBron James is an avid football fan. He's now an even bigger Colin Kaepernick fan than the sport. Following the Cavaliers' practice on Sunday, James opened up on Kaepernick and his absence from the NFL. 

"I've commended Kap, and for him to sacrifice everything for the greater good for everyone, for what he truly believed in, the utmost respect to him," James said to ESPN. "Obviously he had a vision like Martin Luther King and like some of our all-time greats that people couldn't see further than what they were doing at the point and time. And Muhammad Ali and things of that nature."

James believes the masses don't truly understand what Kaepernick was doing when he first took a knee as a protest against social and racial injustices in America. For his actions, James respects Kaepernick choosing his beliefs over his sport.

"When it's something that's new and it's something that people are not educated about or don't understand what your beliefs are all about, people are so quick to judge and people are so quick to say that what you're doing is wrong," James said. "For him to sacrifice the sport that he plays and to sacrifice the things he's done his whole life because he knew what he believed in, I salute him. I salute and respect that."

Add James to the list of those who believe Kaepernick is being blackballed by the NFL for taking a knee last season. The more games he watches, the more James sees the evidence on the wall. 

"I don't represent the NFL. I don't know their rules and regulations. But I do know Kap is getting a wrong doing, I do know that," James believes. "Just watching, he's an NFL player. He's an NFL player and you see all these other quarterbacks out there and players out there that get all these second and third chances that are nowhere near as talented as him. It just feels like he's been blackballed out of the NFL. So, I definitely do not respect that."

Kaepernick, who recently turned 30 years old, appeared in 12 games for the 49ers in the 2016-17 season. Through the air he completed 59.2 percent of his passes and ended the year with 2,241 yards, 16 touchdowns and four interceptions. Kaepernick also added 468 yards and two more scores on the ground. 

"The only reason I could say he's not on a team is because the way he took a knee," James said. "That's the only reason. I watch football every Sunday, every Thursday, every Monday night. I see all these quarterbacks -- first-string, second-team, third-team quarterbacks -- that play sometimes when the starter gets hurt or are starters that play. Kap is better than a lot of those guys. Let's just be honest."

For his career, Kaepernick has thrown for 12,271 yards and 72 touchdowns to 30 interceptions. With his speed as a dual-threat quarterback, Kaepernick has also gained 2,300 yards rushing and 13 more touchdowns. 

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

blaine-ap.jpg
AP

Former 49ers quarterback takes over under center for Cardinals

TEMPE, Ariz. — Blaine Gabbert will get his first start for the Arizona Cardinals when they play the Texans in Houston on Sunday.

Coach Bruce Arians announced the decision after Friday's practice.

Drew Stanton, the starter the last two games, bruised his knee early in the Thursday night loss to Seattle last week. He stayed in the game but has been limited in practice all week.

Arians said it will be a game-time decision as to whether Stanton or recently signed Matt Barkley would be Gabbert's backup.

Gabbert will be making his 41st NFL start. He has a 9-31 record. He signed with Arizona last offseason and was the third quarterback until Carson Palmer broke his arm against the Los Angeles Rams in London and was lost for the season.