With the second phase of free agency well underway during the 2016 offseason, the Green Bay Packers must look closely at their salary cap before signing any free agents to contracts. One factor that plays into any cap decisions is the effect of the rookie class that the Packers will select in the 2016 NFL Draft.
But just how much will the rookies cost the Packers in salary cap room? This seems to be a frequent subject of confusion and debate, so we are here to set the record straight.
During the offseason, an NFL team does not have to count every contract for every member of the 90-man roster against the cap limit. Instead, only the top 51 contracts with the highest salary cap hits for the upcoming season are counted (plus any dead money). Because of this, the incremental effect of adding a late-round draft pick whose cap hit will be around the league minimum is much less than that player's individual cap hit.
With the rookie wage scale in place under the current Collective Bargaining Agreement, this can be calculated easily. For example, the 32nd pick in the 5th round has a first-year cap hit of $500,854 for 2016. Say that this player is added to the roster and falls within the top 51 highest-valued contracts for 2016. He will bump another player out of the Top 51. If the player bumped down is making the rookie minimum of $450,000, the net effect of that draft pick will be $50,854.
The Packers currently hold nine picks in the 2016 Draft, thanks to the addition of two fourth-round compensatory picks. Those picks, as well as the projected first-year cap hit for each, are listed below. Also listed is the contract value of the player bumped out of the Top 51 once the rookie signs his contract and the difference between those contract values.
|Round||Pick||Overall||Rookie Value||Displaced Value||Net Difference|
* This contract would not be in the 51 highest-valued contracts for 2016
All you then need to do is add up the last column to see what the net addition onto the cap will be for this rookie pool. That comes up with a total of $1,744,482.
Also note that undrafted free agent signings would be taken into account; however, it is highly unlikely that the 2016 cap hit for any UDFA rookie would qualify for the Top 51. With the draft picks signed, the 51st-highest contract would be one of the compensatory picks with a hit of $545,358, which a UDFA would almost certainly not exceed.
Now let's factor in how much cap space the Packers currently have. According to a press release from the NFLPA on March 9th, the Packers' adjusted salary cap - which includes rollover and adjustments from 2015 - is $163,439,289. To calculate how much room the Packers currently have under the cap, we subtract off Overthecap's totals for the Packers' dead money and current Top 51 contracts (a total liability of $148,384,983) resulting in $15,054,306.
Factoring in the rookie pool's net effect above gives a final effective cap room value of $13,309,824.
Keep in mind that the final value is dependent on Overthecap having accurate numbers for each and every Packers' player's contract. That may not always be exact, though OTC does an excellent job.