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Explaining the salary cap, spending, and cap room

There is confusion about the salary cap and how it works, so let me explain.


There is quite a bit of confusion on the NFL salary cap, cap room, and how much the Jacksonville Jaguars have to spend due to the new CBA. Currently the Jaguars have $31 million in adjusted cap room, but that number is misleading because $21 million of that is roll over from the 2012 season.

Many fans and media seem to think that this means the Jaguars must spend the majority of that money to get to the league mandated salary floor, which is an 89-percent threshold.

That's simply not true.

The salary cap floor does not just apply to a single season, but it applies to the four-year period from 2013 to 2016. Teams must spend to the 89-percent salary floor threshold cumulatively over that period of time. Not only that, but it's 89-percent of the unadjusted cap in cash-out, not 89% of the cap. So, theoretically a team could only use 50-percent of their cap space if they wanted to and not be penalized as long as the cash out met the threshold.

Teams don't even have to hit that 89-percent mark in a single year, they just have to make sure they average hitting that point over a four year period, so realistically you can make up for it at the end if necessary.

The Jaguars could spend no money if they wanted to this year and it wouldn't matter as long as it's made up for in the upcoming years before the end of 2016.

(Thanks to Sander at Bucs Nation for making sure I didn't just sound like an idiot.)

Keep reading:

Jaguars free agency live blog

Jaguars NFL free agent 2013 tracker

Who the Jaguars should sign in free agency

List of free agents with ties to Caldwell, Bradley