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5 teams in best NFL salary cap situation for 2022 offseason

Vincent Frank

The NFL salary cap for the 2022 season is now pretty much set at $208.2 million after a major downswing in 2021 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Said cap is an increase of roughly $26 million from the 2021 campaign. This puts a lot of teams in great positions to be active on the NFL free agent and trade markets.

Below, we look at the five teams in the best situation. All come from the AFC and boast one thing in common. As of right now, they all have starting quarterbacks who are playing under their rookie deals.

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Los Angeles Chargers

los angeles chargers, nfl salary cap
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  • NFL salary cap room: $75.2 million
  • Key Los Angeles Chargers free agents: Linval Joseph, Chris Harris, Mike Williams, Jalen Guyton

With franchise quarterback Justin Herbert aboard, the Chargers find themselves in a great position. Already a playoff contender in 2021, Herbert is slated to count a mere $7.3 million against the cap next season. That gives Chargers general manager Tom Telesco a whole lot of room to work with. Given that LA has already extended Joey Bosa, this is magnified further.

Sure Mike Williams will likely be a major priority for the Chargers once March comes calling. However, there’s also some big needs for Los Angeles if it wants to take advantage of the remainder of Herbert’s rookie contract. Right tackle, linebacker and cornerback are three areas the Chargers could look to address on the open market.

Related: Updated 2022 NFL free agents

Miami Dolphins

nfl salary cap, miami dolphins
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  • NFL salary cap room: $75.46 million
  • Key Miami Dolphins free agents: Will Fuller, Mike Gesicki

We have absolutely no idea if Tua Tagovailoa is going to be with the Dolphins next season. This will obviously impact things when it comes to the cap, especially if the Fins pull off that long-awaited trade for Deshaun Watson. Outside of his current off-field issues, the Houston Texans’ quarterback is set to count $35 million against the cap for an acquiring team.

Either way, general manager Chris Grier should have enough room to add talent in South Beach. Even when ignoring the quarterback position, there’s a lot of needs here. The offensive line has been a disaster in front of Tua. Meanwhile, there’s some major holes that must be filled at both running back and in the defensive front seven.

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Jacksonville Jaguars

Urban Meyer
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  • NFL salary cap room: $71.81 million
  • Key Jacksonville Jaguars free agents: Cam Robinson, Tre Herndon, D.J Chark

What an absolute dumpster fire these Jaguars have been under first-year head coach Urban Meyer. How bad is it? He might be one-and-done in Duval. Dating back to last season, Jacksonville has lost 26 of 28 games. Meanwhile, rookie No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence has been a mistake waiting to happen.

So, why would any NFL free agent want to sign with the Jaguars? One word. Money. The Jags are expected to have nearly $72 million in cap space to work with. Even if they hand Cam Robinson a lucrative long-term deal, that number would sit at $65-plus million. That’s plenty of cash for general manager Trent Baalke to overspend with.

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Cincinnati Bengals

NFL: San Francisco 49ers at Cincinnati Bengals
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  • NFL salary cap room: $61.29 million
  • Key Cincinnati Bengals free agents: Riley Reiff, Jessie Bates

It’s not like Cincinnati actually spends money in free agency. That might seem a bit harsh or hyperbolic. But it has been the name of the game under general manager Duke Tobin. Will that change with Cincinnati clearly in playoff contention for the long haul and Joe Burrow showing out under center? We’re not too sure.

What we do know is that these Bengals did go against the grain some last off-season by signing the likes of Trey Hendrickson and Riley Reiff. It’s a must this coming March if these Bengals want to be taken seriously as top-end contenders in the AFC North moving forward.

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New York Jets

  • NFL salary cap room: $54.55 million
  • Key New York Jets free agents: Marcus Maye, Keelan Cole, Jamison Crowder

Jets general manager Joe Douglas spent big time last off-season, adding the likes of Carl Lawson, Corey Davis and Sheldon Rankins for the combined lump sum of $93.5 million. It has not paid off. Lawson has missed the entire season to injury while Davis has found himself injury-plagued throughout the campaign.

Will this force Douglas into re-thinking his strategy? We’re not too sure. The Jets boast a 3-10 record. They rank 29th in scoring and 32nd in points allowed. Something must happen in order to save this sinking ship. If that means doling out a lot of cash in NFL free agency for a second consecutive spring, so be it.

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