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More evidence emerges of a $180 million salary cap

Mike Florio and Chris Simms analyze whether the Baltimore Ravens will sign Lamar Jackson to a long-term contract and explain how the salary cap reduction will impact the situation.

Chiefs owner Clark Hunt has said that the final salary cap for 2021 may not be known until hours before the league year begins. Evidence is increasing that it will be in the range of $180 million.

PFT reported last month that, with a guaranteed floor of $175 million, there was a belief that the final number would be slightly higher. Earlier today, ESPN’s Adam Schefter seconded that notion, pegging it in the range of $180 million to $181 million.

Few have yet to comprehend the consequences of what would be an $18.2 million reduction per team in last year’s number. Teams routinely plan their contracts under the assumption that the cap will keep going up. A reduction to $180 million will force multiple teams to cut multiple veteran players in order to get under the new ceiling.

Some teams can’t wait for that to happen, because they have the cap space to target the veterans who suddenly will become free agents. The teams in a cap crunch obviously would prefer the cap to be higher.

Thus, before the NFL and the NFL Players Association can begin to negotiate a new cap, the teams must come up with a preferred figure. Some teams ultimately will not be happy, if it falls that far. Many players who don’t realize what’s coming will not be happy, either.

The superstars will still get their money. The rookies will still get their money. The veterans in the NFL’s broad middle class could end up getting screwed, as the losses arising from the ongoing pandemic hit the cap hard in 2021.

Whether they’re cut and forced to look elsewhere for something/anything, whether they’re squeezed to take less to stay put, or whether they’re free agents who don’t realize the money won’t flow like it usually does, 2021 is going to potentially be a rough year for the cut of player between the best of the best and the wage-scaled youngsters.