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Plenty of teams have plenty of cap dollars to spend


As the season inches toward the home stretch, it’s time to start considering whether and to what extent teams will devote 2011 cap room toward extending contracts of key players.

As set forth in an updated salary cap report, plenty of teams have plenty of cash to spend.

If they choose to spend it.

Leading the way are the Jaguars with $32.9 million. The Chiefs have $27.4 million, and the Broncos have $25.6 million. The Bucs have $25.1 million, the Seahawks have $21.7 million, and the Bills have $20.9 million.

Perhaps the most intriguing team on the list is the 49ers. At 8-1 and with $16.7 million still to spend, some of that money could be used to reward players who have fueled an unexpectedly stellar season, like quarterback Alex Smith.

Teams also can try to carry over cap space into 2012, via devices like the inclusion of “likely to be earned” incentives that, as a practical matter, will never be earned.

Though the new CBA imposes a minimum spending requirement on a league-wide basis in 2011 and 2012, the per-team spending minimum doesn’t kick in until 2013. So no one team is required to spend any specific amount.

Which means that teams with plenty of cap space can keep any, some, or all of that money in their pockets. It’s prompting some to wonder why the NFLPA didn’t press for a minimum spending requirement on a per-team basis in 2011.

And to that we say, “Good question.”