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Salary cap “almost definitely” will be $182.5 million

Mike Florio and Charean Williams discuss how Dak Prescott's historic extension with the Cowboys will impact the QB market and top free agents like Lamar Jackson and Baker Mayfield.

From the moment the minimum salary cap for 2021 increased from $175 million to $180 million, we’d heard that the final number will be in the range of $182 million to $183 million. Although the final number still hasn’t been set, it likely will land right in the middle of that range.

As one source with knowledge of the situation tells PFT, the cap “almost definitely” will be $182.5 million.

That would represent a drop of $15.7 million from last year’s cap of $198.2 million. The reduction arises directly from the financial losses incurred during the pandemic.

As noted on Tuesday, the players received full pay in 2020, undiminished by the pandemic and unlimited by the escrow obligations that other sports leagues utilized. The league and the NFL Players Association agreed to spread the money lost due to the pandemic, which saw total attendance plunge from more than 17 million to roughly one million, over three years.

Full (or at least significantly increased) attendance in 2021 will help bump up the 2022 cap, as will the new TV deals, which are expected to be announced sooner than later.

The new cap takes effect on Wednesday, March 17, at 4:00 p.m. ET.