As free agency beckons, there will be a lot of focus on the Cardinals’ available cap space. While an exact figure has not been released, the NFL Players Association currently has the team with about $20.7 million of room.
While that is well below the projected number of many other teams, it doesn’t mean the Cardinals have to sit on their hands if there are players they want to pursue. There are many ways to free up money quickly, from extensions to cuts to restructures.
Additionally, multi-year deals don’t necessarily have to have a consistent yearly cap hit, which is another way to massage any deal.
Take Chandler Jones’ lucrative five-year extension, for instance. The full reported value of the deal was $82.5 million, which amounts to an average cap hit of $16.5 million per season.
But his cap hit in 2017, the first year of the contract, was only a reported $10 million, with a jump to $15.5 million for this season and then $18.5 million or more for each of the final three years.
If the Cardinals want to sign a premier free agent, they can structure it similarly, taking on a smaller cap number in 2018 while pushing the bigger hits to future years.
The Cardinals don’t have many players under contract for 2019, and thus could have more than a reported $100 million in cap space. While signings and extensions will begin to eat into that number, there is the option of pushing money to 2019 and beyond to make signing impact free agents this offseason more palatable.