The NFL will have a new salary cap floor of at least $180 million in 2021. While lower than the $198.2 million floor last year, it's still great news for the Washington Football Team.
It's relieving news for many NFL GMs who were awaiting the new figures they'll have to shape their offseasons around. For teams that were already staring up from salary cap hell, their outlook hasn't improved much. But for teams like Washington, it means they can take care of the business they were already planning to with the potential to do even more.
"They've got money to play with," JP Finlay explained Thursday on 106.7 The Fan's BMitch & Finlay. "Now, consider, they're gonna pay Brandon Scherff. I very much believe they're gonna get a deal done with Brandon Scherff. When Ron Rivera joined us on our very first show, he said getting a deal done with our guys is one of our top priorities. I heard that as 'we're working on locking up Brandon Scherff.'"
"He's probably the most important guy that they have right there that they need to lock up," Brian Mitchell said.
"He's the first All-Pro since you," Finlay noted to his co-host, who was a first-team All-Pro for Washington in 1995. "First All-Pro on the offensive side of the football since you. You have put kids through college during that time."
As the NFL noted in a memo to teams, that salary cap for 2021 has not been finalized. That figure will come following a final review of 2020 revenue figures. Rather, "this agreement simply increases the minimum 2021 Salary Cap by $5 million per club, from $175 million to $180 million."
In other words, teams now have the freedom to operate financially knowing they'll have at least $180 million to spend.
With roughly $38 million available, Washington has the fifth-most salary cap space in the NFL, giving them better financial flexibility than all of their NFC East rivals while coming off of a division title. And while a potential extension for All-Pro guard Brandon Scherff will cost a pretty penny, Washington can offset that cost by parting with Alex Smith, Finlay says, a move which, if done diplomatically, could also serve as a PR windfall.
"So I think Brandon Scherff is gonna get paid," Finlay said. "I think it's gonna be around [$15 million] a year. That's gonna take up a chunk of that $38 million. But I also think there's a way to offset that money. You know what it is? Alex Smith."
"Alex Smith has a $24 million salary cap hit in 2021," he said. "You've got to do it the right way, and here's my plan. We saw what Houston did for J.J. Watt. They are able to put out a statement by the owner that says, 'Hey, we love this dude. We want to give him the opportunity to find a team to play for before free agency so he can work the circuit and find out where he wants to be.' J.J.'s able to put out a statement about how much he loved his time in Houston."
"And what they really get is a big PR win by releasing a veteran player with a high salary that they probably couldn't afford to keep with a dropping salary cap," Finlay said. "And what does Washington have? They have a really similar situation."