The NFL free agency period will begin exactly two weeks from today with the “legal tampering” window opening two days prior. With the league experiencing widespread revenue losses amid COVID-19, teams will have their work cut out for them fitting under the elusive $180.5 million salary cap threshold, a significant reduction from last year’s record $198.2 million. As of now, 11 of the NFL’s 32 teams are over the cap with the Saints ($65.4 million) and Eagles ($43 million) both facing the ominous prospect of complete overhauls.
The purge has already begun with J.J. Watt, Kyle Rudolph, DeSean Jackson, Ricardo Allen and Kawaan Short among this year’s batch of early cap casualties. Things are only going to get uglier with even more cuts expected next week. In fact, ESPN’s Dianna Russini says one NFL coach told her to expect a “massacre” in the coming days.
Even by NFL standards, we could be in for an unusually grim offseason with penny-pinching owners expected to play hardball like never before. Some including Cardinals running back Chase Edmonds have suggested this could lead to the emergence of “super teams” with free agents more likely to accept one-year deals in the league’s current climate of uncertainty.
Most teams will have a clearer idea of their finances by next Tuesday, which is the deadline for assigning the franchise tag. Regardless, budget constraints across the league could lead to unprecedented roster turnover, setting the stage for one of the most chaotic offseasons in recent memory. And that’s not even taking into account trades (Could Sam Darnold be the next quarterback domino to fall?) and holdout threats like Deshaun Watson.