The salary cap has not yet been set for the 2021 season, but the reality has long been, because of the loss of attendance during the pandemic, that it was going to drop. It was a shade over $198 million for 2020, and when the league and the NFL Players Association collectively bargaining their pandemic rules last spring, the floor for 2021 was set at $175M -- meaning it could not drop any lower, although it was still a significant plummet,
The league told teams Thursday morning the floor was being adjusted up, to $180M. Not a huge jump, but any amount helps in a league where expecting the cap to jump at least $10M every season had become the norm. There's a huge difference between $180M and $210M, cap-wise, and you will see it as rosters are built out this offseason.
"They raised it to $180 million as of this morning, and that's good news," Cardinals owner Michael Bidwill said Thursday morning on 98.7, Arizona's Sports Station. "We get $5 million more of salary cap room, minimum. It could go up a little bit as well. I don't expect it to be too much.
"That's about a 15% swing," Bidwill added. "So we've got to cram a lot more salary into that salary cap. It's going to be difficult for every team to manage these things."
It's possible new TV contracts could help add to the new cap number, but given that Bidwill is one of the 32 people that would know how much that could impact the cap, his noting that it probably won't go up too much means it probably won't go up too much. What is more important now is how soon teams will know the official number -- free agency begins March 17, with teams allowed to talk to other teams' scheduled free agents two days before that. The final number is expected in the first week of March or so.
Meanwhile, teams can talk to their own impending free agents at anytime, and the Cardinals obviously have some significant ones: Haason Reddick, Patrick Peterson, Larry Fitzgerald and Kenyan Drake among them.