NFC Salary CAP Breakdown
The 2022 Salary Cap is expected to be set at $208.2 million and we will look at each division and how their cap space affects their moves in the upcoming offseason. As always this is just what I see they can do to clear cap room and not all moves may occur. But these are the ones most likely to happen based on chatter I have seen or read along with my personal evaluation of their cap situations. Effective Cap space is their total cap space minus about $10 million for rookie draft class and operating costs for injury signings throughout a season.
Updates will be included as players are traded and signed via free agency.
Working in reverse order of the standings we look first at the Seattle Seahawks. They come into 2022 with just over $31.5 million in effective cap space and 51 players under contract.
The Seahawks walk into 2022 with more questions than answers. They again have no 1st round pick which, honestly might be better for them based on their draft history in the first round under their current GM. It has been quite a few years since they had a 1st round pick and that has taken has had an impact on their roster.
They need to address a long list of free agents to keep this team intact and if they are keeping Russ, they must get an extension for DK Metcalf completed. With the moves above they can clear an additional $47.7 million in cap room giving them $79.2 million to attack free agency with.
RB - I think Chris Carson’s neck injury and the emergence of Penny at the end of the season gives them the out needed where they can use the money saved from Carson to sign penny to a 3-year deal to be the starter. Finally healthy, Penny showed why they drafted him in the 1st round back in 2018.
QB - It’s still Russ’ team (recently traded - update coming soon) and Geno Smith should be a high-priority signing by the front office to keep their backup situation stable. Geno did a decent enough job to keep them afloat and unless they can get Mariota for cheaper to backup Russ, Geno is likely the best fit there.
WR - Lockett, and Metcalf remain the two to own. Lockett seems to be Russ’s favorite target now and DK needs to be paid. I have seen some rumors about DK being on the trade block, but I find it hard to believe at this time. Freddie Swain remains a WR to watch if they were to trade DK or Lockett away as the next man up. He is basically a clone of Lockett but bigger.
TE - (Noah Fant notes to be added soon) They had zero consistency from this position this year, but Everett was the best of the options they had going and if they can get him on another team-friendly deal, it would be worth their while to bring him back. If they do not though, Colby Parkinson is finally getting healthy and if Everett or Dissly, or both do not return unless they sign someone else or draft someone, he would take over as TE1. A 6’7” red zone mismatch that played with Davis Mills at Stanford.
2nd round #41
3rd round #72
4th round #107 from Jets
4th round #114
5th round #152
7th round #227
San Francisco 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers are next. They come into 22 with -$11.46 million in cap space and only 43 players signed with 32 free agents.
Most of the 49er's free agents reside on the defensive side of the ball. However, two of their offensive line starters [Compton and Tomlinson] are UFA’s and they will need to address this.
The biggest name in all this offseason talk for them will be Jimmy G and being traded to allow Lance to start at QB. I know we have heard rumors that they could keep him, but I believe this is just posturing so they can get more draft capital for him. With the current draft class of QBs being less than impressive you could see teams like Pittsburgh, Washington, Denver, Tampa Bay, and maybe even Cleveland reach out about him. If they trade him it allows them to clear over $62 million as noted above with the other moves giving them about $50 million to use in free agency then.
The biggest holes for them to fix reside on the defense, especially their secondary which is why I can see them trading Greenlaw to acquire more draft capital or a veteran capable secondary player. If they do opt to keep him, they can sign him to an extension which cuts their savings to about $1.2 million against the cap instead.
RB – Elijah Mitchell is still a cheap value you can acquire and is going to be the lead back. What I would also note is that Trey Sermon and JaMycal Hasty [ERFA] are the other backs signed for 22 and both should be rostered and probably for cheap in most leagues.
TE- Two words: George kittle. Moving on.
WRs - Deebo made his presence known this year as a weapon both as a WR and out of the backfield as an RB. He continues to be the WR1. Aiyuk was in and out of the doghouse throughout the season but when Lance takes over, I expect him to take a leap in production again. There are many, many, many clips showing where Jimmy would not throw the deep route to Aiyuk who was often open. Lance with his arm will take that shot. And then finally, Jauan Jennings [ERFA] will be back and look to build off his impressive finale against the Rams. He can likely be found on the waiver wire unless you are in a deep league.
2nd round #61
3rd round #93
4th round #132
5th round #171
6th round from Broncos #185
7th round proj comp #252
7th round proj comp #255
7th round proj comp #262
Next, we look at the Arizona Cardinals who have -$3.86 million in effective cap space with 53 players signed in 22 for now.
With the moves above the Cardinals can clear $55.48 million in cap space for free agency. I suspect they might make a few other moves, but these give them plenty to work with to start as they work to add more to the team. They have 26 free agents with both James Conner and Chase Edmonds being UFA’s. The other notable area they have a lot of free agents is their top 4 TEs on the roster are all UFA’s as well.
QB - Despite the chatter that happened on Twitter when he cleared his social media [common with athletes now at the end of a year, especially as they head into a contract year] he is not going anywhere and is their QB of the future. We should see them exercise his 5th year option and look to sign him to an extension in 2023 than during the last year of his deal.
RB - I would expect them to try and bring James Conner back on a team-friendly 2-3 year deal to lead the backfield. Melvin Gordon is another name that could pop up on their radar where he could come in and be the main back again.
TE - Zack Ertz is 31 and put-up decent numbers with the Cardinals. If they want him back, they can push to sign him, however, there are quite a few free agent TEs this year and they may look for cheaper youth at this position.
WRs - Hopkins going down with injury hurt the offense and you could tell it was not in sync there at the end. Rondale Moore seems to be more a gadget player and is not going to be a consistent fantasy reliable option. Christian Kirk is a free agent and on vacation with Josh Allen who could be pitching him to come out to Buffalo. AJ Green is also a UFA due to a void year in his contract. They will need to address this likely in the draft as they focus their money on free agency to help the defense more. Antoine Wesley is a name to watch on their roster as he filled in for Hopkin's role in the red zone. He could see an expanded role should they opt to run with more youth in this position. I would expect them to look for a veteran though to come in and help out.
1st round #23
2nd round #55
3rd round #87
6th round #200
6th round proj comp #216
7th round #242
7th round proj comp #257
7th round proj comp #259
Los Angeles Rams
And finally, the Division winner and Super Bowl Champions: Los Angeles Rams. They come into 22 with 59 players currently signed and -$22.26 million in effective cap space.
The Rams come of their Super Bowl win showing that every move they made, from trading Goff to Detriot and sacrificing their 22 1st, to sending a 2nd for Von Miller to Denver, was the right move to get them that title. They can clear about $61.3 million in effective cap space with the moves listed above.
This will allow them to try and re-sign some of the vets like OBJ and possibly Miller. They only have 13 UFA’s so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that they could get them all back to try for a repeat. Especially if the players are willing to take less for a shot at the back-to-back. This also works to their advantage in recruiting cheap vets to come to play there at a discount to help them repeat and get them their first ring.
QB - It's Stafford and he will likely get an extension keeping him there until he's close to 40.
RBs - Cam Akers miraculously made it back from the Achilles tear to play in the playoffs and Super Bowl however he does not look fully healthy yet. Henderson should still be stashed and if Michel re-signs another deep stash to hold onto.
WRs - Kupp is the WR1 there, Woods will be coming back from the ACL tear as will OBJ. Both may be slower starting next year but should be good to go and productive. If you’re a contender, you can get Woods for likely a mid 2nd at this time. Keep an eye on Bennett Skowronek should either player have a setback or if OBJ decides to move on as the next man up who as a rookie was playing well. Van Jefferson is still there but more of the deep threat that doesn’t see consistent targets to be fantasy relevant outside of bestball formats. Also, Jacob Harris who worked with the TEs mostly this season may be switching back to WR and is a 6’5” mismatch waiting to happen.
TE - Higbee is still the main guy, but in TE premium and 2 TE leagues Brycen Hopkins should be rostered as he showed great promise when on the field.
3rd round comp #103
4th round proj comp #141
5th round #174
6th round proj comp #210
6th round proj comp #211
6th round proj comp #213
7th round from Dolphins #236
7th round #251
Working in reverse order of the standings we look first at the Detroit Lions. They enter 2022 with just over $9.3 million in effective cap space with 51 players currently signed.
With 2 firsts in this draft thanks to the Stafford trade, the Lions can continue their rebuild. With pick 2 they can add to the defense or move back to acquire more draft capital. With the moves above they can clear around $66.1 million in effective cap space to use in free agency to address all the holes on this team. They need to add another WR despite how well Josh Reynolds and Amon Ra played for them last season. Otherwise, they need to continue their focus on rebuilding that porous defense that cost them a few games last year.
Goff was not bad, all things considered, last season with losing Swift, Hockenson, and most of their WR corp for the year. I do not think the Lions draft a QB this year but looks to possibly 2023.
Swift is the obvious RB to own in this backfield and Jamaal Williams was not great outside of week one when he saw 9 targets and caught 8 of them.
Hockenson the obvious TE to own but at his current cost is likely not someone I would target.
For the WRs, Josh Reynolds has good chemistry with Goff when he’s healthy and can be a cheap add. Amon-Ra exploded at the end of the year and per PFF’s receiving grade he joins the following elite group:
For me, I’m buying Amon-Ra anywhere I can as I believe we saw a glimpse of what he could do, and that was without any other viable WR or TE out on the field with him drawing coverages away. He could explode further if they add another WR and Hockenson back on the field with him drawing coverage away.
1st round #2
1st round from Rams #32
2nd round #34
3rd round #66
3rd round comp #97
5th round comp #176
6th round #179
Next up are the Chicago Bears who come in with $19.48 million in effective cap room and 45 players signed in 2022.
The Bears come into 2022 with more questions than answers. They can clear an extra $42.8 million in cap room and have about $62.28 million to work with in free agency then. Their biggest needs are WRs, DB, and interior o-line.
Their first they traded away to draft Fields last year and now need to surround him with more talent. Allen Robinson is a free agent and extremely unlikely to re-sign. Mooney is currently their best WR, and they will need to try and add more to their group. Most likely they add this via the draft, but they have very limited draft capital this year.
Montgomery is the lead back but watch out for Khalil Herbert who showed as a rookie he’s capable of stepping into the starting role. Therefore, Cohen is on the block in my projections as they can use the savings to add more depth needed on that roster.
Cole Kmet is one of the more underrated TEs out there and can still be grabbed cheaply and being tied to Fields, is a great bargain in my opinion. I would not mind paying a mid to late 2nd in TE premium leagues for him or a mid to late 3rd in non-TE premium as a long-term guy who can develop as Knox has in Buffalo.
2nd round #39
3rd round #71
5th round from Texans #148
5th round #150
6th round #185
7th round #226
Next, we look at the Minnesota Vikings who come into 2022 with -20.36 million in effective cap space. They have 57 players signed.
The new coach and GM inherit a cap mess and if they make the extreme move of sending cousins out to a QB needy team like Pittsburgh or Denver, then they can clear up to $72 million and have about $50 million then to work with in free agency. If they keep Cousins, then they will need to sign him to an extension to help the cap. Otherwise, they only will have $15 million to work with in free agency to improve this roster.
Dalvin Cook remains the back to own but make sure you handcuff with Mattison. Kene Nwangu is a name to watch should they part with Mattison to save cap space [under a million to cut him so unlikely].
Irv Smith might be the cheapest starting TE under 25 you can acquire right now.
Justin Jefferson is the clear #1 and Thielen is nearing the end of his time with the Vikings as they will look to get younger. Ihmir Smith-Marsette is still one to keep an eye out for as he develops and could sneak his way further up the depth chart should he grow in the offseason. A name to watch that can be had cheaply and often on waivers for free.
1st round #12
2nd round #46
3rd round #77
5th round from Ravens #156
6th round from Jets #183
6th round #191
6th round from Chiefs #207
7th round from 49ers via Broncos #248
Green Bay Packers
And finally, the Division winner: The Green Bay Packers who come into 2022 with 52 players signed and about -$19.04 million in effective cap space with the * restructures that have already occurred.
*Occurred while the article was not yet published.
The biggest question is will Rodger be back. I think he returns, and they get Adams signed to a long-term deal. To do this they will need to do the above plus some to be able to sign anyone else. I suspect they will find some other ways of manipulating the cap with a few more conversions of players' salaries into bonus money.
They also will need money to address other notable free agents like Tonyan and MVS. In the end, they keep their two main core guys and move forward to find replacements in the draft or cheap vets willing to sign for less in the chase of a title.
AJ Dillon is the long-term back own and Aaron Jones converting some of his salary extends his role longer there, but the writing is on the wall for Dillon to take over.
I suspect they add WR in the draft but it still is Adams as the #1, #2, and #3 option for Rodgers and that is unlikely to change no matter whom they bring in.
For TE, unless Tonyan is back you can avoid this position with them in fantasy. However, if you are in a TE prem or 2 TE league then look to see if Deguara is out there on waivers.
1st round #28
2nd round #60
3rd round #92
4th round #130
4th round #136
5th round #170
7th round #224
7th round #245
7th round #255
New York Giants
Working in reverse order of the standings we look first at the New York Giants. They currently have 55 players signed in 2022 with -$12.2 million in cap space to work with. They will need to clear about $24 million just to sign their rookie class and operate for the year.
The Giants come into 2022 with another coaching change and GM. This plan this time however is to overhaul the roster. The major question they have is what to do with Barkley. Personally, I think a trade makes the most sense for them to acquire assets and start the fix with their horrible cap situation. However, an extension instead may be something they do to give him a 1–2-year short-term deal allowing him to be around.
With all the above moves the Giants can clear almost $63 million in cap and taking away the money they will need to operate leaves them with only $39.1 million to work with in free agency. The Giants are looking to rebuild and one other move they could make would be cutting Blake Martinez instead of giving him an extension. This would save them another $2.25 million but, with all their holes, I would expect the extension or restructure with a void year to keep him while reducing his 2022 cap hit.
I expect them to try and trade back from one, if not both, of their firsts to acquire more draft capital to help them alleviate their cap issues. With all the holes on their roster, O-Line, TE, Edge, CB, DL, and LBs to name a few, it would make the most sense to try to add to their current 5 top 100 picks to address their roster holes while bringing in players cheaply who fit their new coaches schemes.
At this time, I am not comfortable rostering any skill player on the Giant's offense outside of Barkley, Toney, or Golladay, and even then it's with hesitation. If you can acquire them at a discount, then it’s worth the risk. But for Golladay at this time, I’m not inclined to offer more than a late 2nd in Superflex as this incoming class and the 23 class both will be very WR heavy, and we will see a lot of roster churn. Also, both Golladay and Shephard are 29 and we could see the dreaded age cliff hit them sooner rather than later with injuries piling up.
1st round #5
1st round #7 from Bears
2nd round #36
3rd round #67
3rd round #81 from Dolphins
4th round #111 from Bears
5th round #147
5th round #173 from Chiefs via Ravens
6th round #181
7th round #224
7th round #225 from Panthers
Next, we look at the Washington Commanders who come into 2022 with $27 million in effective cap space and 54 players signed. They will need to address QB, OT, DB, ILB along with adding more WR depth.
With the moves above, the Commanders can clear an additional $52.7 million in cap giving them $79.7 million in effective cap space to help overhaul the roster. Their biggest need is QB and while they could look to trade for someone like Jimmy G, I believe they end up going with a rookie in the draft. This allows them to address their other holes on the roster while locking in a QB cheap before the cap jumps in the next couple of years when the new TV deals kick in.
I would expect them to try and address WR in the draft with how deep it is and instead use their free agency money to fill the holes on the O-line and defensive side of the ball that disappointed this last year.
Gibson remains the back-to-own but I am hearing noise that they want to bring back McKissic who is a free agent which limits Gibson’s upside to not get the full 3-down-workload. If they do re-sign him, look for any panic in Gibson owners to try and get a discount on him. He still is a top 12 back while splitting time and don't forget that he was slowed by injury last year.
Terry McLaurin is still the WR to own and if you can acquire him on discount while they work on getting a QB now is the time before they add someone. If Curtis Samuel can get healthy, he can be acquired cheaply right now [3rd or 4th round pick or two] and could yield positive results once back on the field. I've heard that they want to use him like the 49ers use Deebo, once he's healthy.
The TE to own is still Logan Thomas who will be back from injury and is locked in for 3 more years there.
1st round #11
2nd round #42
3rd round #73
4th round #112
6th round #188
7th round #228
Next up are the Philadelphia Eagles who walk in with $9.8 million in effective cap room and 63 active players signed already for 2022. They have 3 1sts in this draft to address adding another WR and the defense or work to move one for future draft capital in the 23 class.
From a cap perspective, the Eagles are very well organized and have very little fat to trim from the roster while keeping most of their players. There may be a couple of backup players and maybe some extensions but, for the most part, they can address their needs in the draft to keep players on cheap deals until the TV money rolls in.
Jalen Hurts will remain the QB and I do not expect that to change. They are poised to be able to lock in three starters with their 1sts in this draft and I think a WR and 2 defensive players will be selected to help improve on last year’s performance.
I think Gainwell takes more snaps away from Sanders this year and I don’t expect the Eagles to re-sign Boston Scott allowing Gainwell to take over the 2nd spot. The rookie was the best-rated rookie RB in pass blocking and that will get you more playing time when you can pass protect at a high level. I would expect the Eagles to groom him to take over for Sanders allowing them to focus their cap space on finding players that fit their scheme while adding extra depth.
Smith and Goedert are the two pass catchers to have and if you have not acquired them, you’re going to be spending extra to get them now. Goedert’s window to acquire cheaply, especially in 2TE and TE premium formats, disappeared once they traded Ertz to the Cardinals.
Reagor is a bust and JJAW is a cut candidate. Watkins remains a speed guy who may flash but is too inconsistent to be starting for you unless you’re in a very deep league and are desperate for help. I expect them to add a WR again in this class with one of their 1sts to pair with Smith and give Hurts more weapons.
1st round #15 from Dolphins [Waddle in 21' draft]
1st round #16 from Colts
1st round #19
2nd round #51
3rd round #83
4th round #123
5th round #154 from Commanders
5th round #162
5th round #166 from Cardinals [Ertz trade]
6th round #204 from Buccaneers via Jets
7th round #238
And finally, the Division winner: The Dallas Cowboys who will come into 2022 with -$25.3 million in effective cap space and 57 players signed to their roster.
The Cowboys can clear about $72 million with the above moves and leave themselves with $46.7 million then for free agency. With guys like Randy Gregory, Dalton Schultz, Jayron Kearse, Michael Gallup, Connor Williams, Leighton Vander Esch, Bryan Anger, and Cedrick Wilson all being free agents, some will not be back as they will be able to garner more on the free agency market.
Gallup is rumored to be someone they want to lock up and bring back even with the injury suffered late. He likely won’t command as much money now and they can sign him to a short 1-3 year deal to allow him the chance to recover and recoup some of the money he will miss out on due to the injury.
Schultz, I feel is a no-brainer for them to bring back as he and Dak have a connection and allowed their offense to move. I know this will disappoint the Lamb fans with them bringing back all their weapons, but they could do so and not destroy their cap long term.
1st round #24
2nd round #56
3rd round #88
4th round #127
5th round #166
6th round #201
Working in reverse order of the standings we look first at the Carolina Panthers. They come into 2022 with $6.84 million in effective cap space with 57 players signed.
The Panthers do not have much draft capital and may look to move pick 6 to allow them more draft flexibility and get more capital to allow them to help fix some of the holes in this roster as they have missed on QB with the Darnold trade.
They can clear an extra $43 million giving them just under $50 million in effective cap space to work with in free agency. They have holes all over that offensive line and the LBs on the defense need addressing. I would expect them, if they keep pick 6, to take the best OT available to help their team.
CMC remains a top fantasy option RB if he can stay healthy and that has been a big if lately. If you can get a CMC owner to sell him cheaply and are a contender, moving picks from the 2022 draft for him is not the worst thing you can do especially as this draft does not have a clear RB1 in it.
For QB, Darnold is likely done after this year unless something crazy happens this year and shows the growth that we have all hoped he would show. He still is only 24 years old so there is hope that he can still make that leap.
The only WR of the Panthers I want right now is DJ Moore, but he remains overpriced for the production he has put onto the field.
Tommy Tremble remains the TE to roster despite Ian Thomas getting a 3-year deal. Thomas is the blocking TE and unless you’re in a deep TE premium league he should not be rostered. Tremble owners may be panicked by the signing though and it can open a window to go get him on a discount.
1st round #6
4th round from Texans #107
5th round from Jaguars #144
5th round #149
5th round from Raiders #199
Next, we look at the Atlanta Falcons. They start with -$13.23 million in effective cap space with 52 players signed.
With the above moves, the Falcons can clear just over $62 million from the cap and have about $48.77 million to use in free agency. This may seem like a lot until you realize they have a long list of free agents including almost all of their WR corp.
Matt Ryan should be their QB likely for the next two seasons but attention should be paid to any QB they draft in the top two rounds this year or next as they could inherit the team and Kyle Pitts.
Their RB room is a mess with Mike Davis still under contract, but Cordarrelle Patterson is a UFA who seemed to finally be unlocked this year with the potential many saw in him.
The WR room is worse than their RB room which is hard to believe but Gage, Zaccheaus, Blake, and Sharpe are all free agents, and if Ridley decides he wants out they could trade him away and look to address this in the draft and with some cheap free agents. (Ridley has sense been suspended for the 2022 season for gambling.)
And then finally their TE is the likely dynasty TE1 moving forward in Kyle Pitts. His rookie year was one of the best for a rookie despite only scoring once.
1st round #8
2nd round #43
2nd round from Titans #58
3rd round #74
4th round #112
5th round #150
6th round #188
6th round proj comp #212
New Orleans Saints
The Saints are next who will come into 2022 with -$45.9 million in effective cap room and 59 players signed. On February 26th, they restructured both MT and Ramczyk’s compensation converting them into signing bonuses to clear $26.217 in cap room.
My hat goes off to the Saints cap team every year as they find ways to manipulate the cap. I stopped just at them clearing $57 million here to get at $11 in cap space as I know they will find a way to clear another 30-40 million more, it just isn’t obvious by getting players to restructure or convert to roster bonuses that will just continue to show that the cap is a myth that the most capable team can manipulate year in and year out when they fully address their contracts to be set up to handle the conversions needed and have an owner willing to spend the money in bonuses upfront.
The biggest needs for the Saints are QB, WR, OT, and then on Defense more Edge players for pass rush and offensive line.
QB - With the retirement of Payton, the Taysom Hill experiment may be over as they look to use him again more as a hybrid weapon. The question is do they draft someone this year or try to bring back Winston on a team-friendly deal.
RB - It’s still Kamara’s backfield and his reuniting with Ingram only bolsters this.
WR - MT should be back and then it’s a matter of whom else can be consistent. I think they look to add someone in the draft to pair with him. Callaway could show improvement again and in deeper leagues warrants being kept rostered.
TE - Trautman is more of a blocking TE and Juwan Johnson showed some flashes but could not carve out a consistent role. For now, though, I would avoid anyone in this spot for them unless their new coach decides to feature the TE role more.
1st round #18
2nd round #49
3rd round proj comp #100
4th round #118
4th round proj comp #136
5th round 160
6th round proj comp #214
7th round #235
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
And finally, the Division winner Tampa Bay Buccaneers will come into 2022 with -$1.32 million in effective cap space with 50 players signed. The Tom Brady retirement caught many off guard but knowing how he wanted to walk away while still playing well it’s not totally shocking especially as his kids get older.
While rumors that Brady could return to another team swirl, the Bucs can clear just over $60 million if Brady follows what Brees did with the Saints and agrees to take a base of the vet minimum and eliminate his roster bonus and playing incentives. They would get the base of $1.12 back as well after placing him on the reserve/retired list post-June 1st then. [from Joel Corry posted here]
QB - Trask, another rookie, or trade for a Vet. That is the million-dollar question now. I suspect they look to go full rebuild and let Trask take over a year sooner than they expected.
RB- Ke’Shawn Vaughn lives. With both Fournette and Ronald Jones being free agents, for now, he is their top back on the roster. If the Bucs do not sign either of them back, keep an eye out for him to start.
WRs – Mike Evans remains the top WR on the team, Godwin is a free agent coming off injury with AB running himself out of town. Tyler Johnson and Jaelon Darden could both see increased roles next season if they cannot re-sign Godwin. I would expect Johnson to take the WR3 role no matter what even. Both, for now, can be had cheaply and in a larger league can be better than a 4th or later dart throw pick.
TE - Gronk is likely to not re-sign and OJ Howard is a free agent. That leaves Brate as their top TE going into 22 until they sign someone else or draft a rookie which can still leave Brate as the top option. In TE premium leagues I would check to see if he’s out on waivers.
1st round #27
2nd round #60
3rd round #91
4th round #131
5th round #169
7th round #246
7th round proj comp #261