The Offseason is upon us and with new general manager Andrew Berry incoming, it is time to look at the roster. Where the Browns can make cap space to prepare for Free Agency, the Draft & getting future extensions signed. I have already looked into our Free Agency class.
Current Roster Spend
The current projection for the 2020 NFL Salary Cap is $200 million, this will be finalized soon. According to Over The Cap, the Browns are currently spending $176.4 million on their top 51 players on their roster. This is the working number of all NFL teams use during the off-season. Browns have 57 players signed to contracts and this number will rise to 90 for camp.
The Browns are expected to enter the 2020 season with a cap rollover of $32m, it is important to separate cap rollover from the space a team has under the allotted NFL salary cap. While all teams are assigned a spending limit of the NFL salary cap each year which, the cap rollover is an amount that you can spend once and then those funds are gone in the same way you would with a savings account.
The Browns currently have five players on their dead cap for 2020 totaling $5m, this will rise as more players are cut and traded. These players are Austin Corbett, Duke Johnson, Chris Smith, Antonio Callaway, and Genard Avery. Looking at the teams from 2015 to 2018 the average playoff team spent 9.1% of the NFL Salary Cap on dead cap meaning we likely expect our dead cap in 2020 to be in the region of $18.2 million. With the change of Front Office, I will work with a calculation that is slightly higher due to slightly higher player turnover.
Contracts For Draft Picks
We currently have seven picks in the 2020 draft, the total for these players will be $8,849,654. With the direction the current Front Office is going I expect to see trade backs and more picks added throughout the draft including future year assets so it is hard to predict the figure but we will use the working number of $8.8 million.
Likely Roster Moves
The main focus of this article is then who gets cut/traded and how that impacts the cap room for the roster. If we look at the more likely names to get moved and the impact that has on the position of our salary cap. The saving figures apply to the impact on the 2020 salary cap and include all dead cap that is required to be paid in 2020. I am only going to look at players that will save over $1 million, for all other players visit Over The Cap.
Cut Kirksey – $7.6 million saved
Cut Carrie – $6.4 million saved
Cut/Trade Hubbard – $4.9 million saved (Don’t be surprised if this happens in camp once rookies/FA prove their talent)
Cut Burnett – $3.4 million saved (We will know by March 20th as a $625k roster bonus is due then, without the injury he is a likely starter)
Cut Harris – $2.5 million saved
Cut Taylor – $2.5 million saved
Cut Kush – $2.1 million saved
By moving on from all seven of these players we would free up $29.4m in cap space, you would need to replace these with draft picks/free agents.
Unlikely Roster Moves
Considering the Browns moved on from PFF’s #1 Pass Blocking Guard in the NFL during the last offseason, I will include a list of higher names that I don’t believe will be cut or traded but this would be their impact if they were moved on.
Trade Vernon – $15.5 million saved
Trade OBJ – $14.3 million saved
Trade Landy – $10 million saved
Cut Mitchell – $3 million saved
Trade Njoku – $1.3 million saved
Trade Ogunjobi – $1.0 million saved
New Cap Space
So here is the calculation for where the Browns are at regarding the 2020 salary cap looking at what we have found above:
Current Top 51 Spend – $176.4 million
Current Dead Cap – $5.0 million
Draft Picks – $8.8 million
Likely Roster Moves – $29.4 million saved
New Spend – $160.8 million
2020 NFL Salary Cap – $200.0 million
2020 Cap Space including Rollover – $71.2 million
This shows we can easily create cap space to re-sign players like UFA Schobert, UFA Burris, RFA Hunt. Preparing to sign long term deals with our #1 overall picks. Target some players in Free Agency to replace the talent that has left or been cut.
I am adding seven players via the draft and removing seven players via cuts, if you are doing your own roster then make sure you end with a total of 51 players. The majority of players at the bottom of the roster are on either $585,000 or $660,000. So if you have too many then minus these off or add them if you cut/trade more players.
Myles & Baker Extensions
There are two big deals in the pipeline that the Browns must be ready to pay, Garrett & Mayfield. I am going to make a really simple prediction at what these figures might be. The Browns need to be ready for cap-wise and money might be saved to prepare for them.
Before May 2, 2020, there will be the inevitable exercising of Myles’ fifth-year option. While the third offseason is the perfect time to get an early deal done, I can’t see it until his ban is lifted. If the Browns are seen to undermine it then the ban likely runs longer.
Looking at similar defensive line superstars to Myles in Mack, Miller, Watt & Donald we can build a market. We see an ‘average per year as % of the cap at signing’ between 12.3% and 13.3% and 6 years. If the contract is done this season we would predict it to be around $156m/6. Using a projected jump in the salary cap to $227m next year it would be around $177 million over six years.
Players can extend their contract after their third season this has been the direction teams have taken at QB. We might see this change once Mahomes and Watson get their extensions. The ‘APY as % of the cap at signing’ for the Goff deal was 17.8% and Wentz was 17.0%, these were both four-year extensions. Working off of a $227m salary cap in 2021, this means Baker’s deal is likely around $162 million over 4 years
The Myles/Baker contracts will require a massive shift in the roster construction for the Browns. Veteran players will be moved on to divert cap space towards these two deals. Don’t be surprised if we see cap space leftover from Free Agency to pay for Garrett and Baker.
Special Cap Rules in 2020
There are a series of special salary cap rules in 2020 due to it being the final season in a CBA, you can read @Jason_OTC breakdown here.