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NFL salary cap expected to increase big time for the 2022 season

As most of you already know, the COVID-19 pandemic impacted league-wide revenue and the NFL salary cap for the 2021 season. In fact, it was set at $182.5 million — the first time in modern league history that said cap actually decreased from the previous season.

But with revenue set to increase in 2021 and an historical television contract, teams are going to find themselves in a much better situation heading into the next year. It was reported on Wednesday that the league and NFLPA have agreed to set the NFL salary cap ceiling at $208.2 million for the 2022 season.

If the ceiling were actually met, it would represent a $10 million increase from the 2020 season. That’s good news. However, it must also be noted that the 2022 campaign will still feel the COVID-19 impact. Of course, this is all dependent on how revenue looks this coming fall and winter.

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NFL salary cap room, best situations for 2022 season

NFL salary cap: New York Jets
May 7, 2021; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets quarterback Zach Wilson during rookie minicamp. Mandatory Credit: New York Jets/Handout Photo via USA TODAY Sports

Based on these projections and if the ceiling were met, here’s a look at the teams who would have the most cap room in 2022. As with everything football-related, this is fluid. Don’t read too much into it.

  • Indianapolis Colts: $81.37 million
  • Pittsburgh Steelers: $77.15 million
  • New York Jets: $68.18 million
  • Miami Dolphins: $64.04 million
  • Washington Football Team: $61.05 million

Both the Jets and Dolphins are relying on quarterbacks playing under their rookie deals in Zach Wilson and Tua Tagovailoa, respectively. That helps them when it comes to their salary cap health.

Meanwhile, Ben Roethlisberger is off the books for the Pittsburgh Steelers following the 2021 season. This means that Pittsburgh’s cap situation is a bit more convoluted than other teams with the most “cash” to spend.

NFL salary cap room, worst situations

NFL salary cap, Aaron Rodgers
Dec 13, 2020; Detroit, Michigan, USA; Green Bay Packers wide receiver Davante Adams (17) celebrates with quarterback Aaron Rodgers (12) after a touchdown during the first quarter against the Detroit Lions at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Raj Mehta-USA TODAY Sports

On the other hand, there’s a number of teams who will have to do some cap gymnastics heading into March of 2022.

  • Green Bay Packers: -$24.3 million
  • Dallas Cowboys: -$18.02 million
  • New York Giants: -$9.52 million
  • Los Angeles Rams: -$2.62 million
  • Cleveland Browns: $7.03 million

Obviously, the status of reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers in Green Bay will play a major role in the Packers’ NFL salary cap situation. If they were to grant his request of a trade, the Packers would save about $22.5 million against the 2022 cap with Jordan Love taking over on a cheap rookie deal.

Having pushed back their salary cap issues throughout the past few seasons, the Cowboys are in a disastrous situation — even if the cap ceiling is met. That could include Dallas being forced to move off stars Amari Cooper and Jaylon Smith. But we’re too far away from the 2021 NFL salary cap being set to draw a conclusion on that front.

As we saw during free agency this past spring, things can change on a dime. For now, it appears that the NFL and its teams have some good news on the salary cap front. The same thing can be said about the top impending free agents, such as Davante Adams of the Green Bay Packers and Cleveland Browns star running back Nick Chubb.

These are the players who should benefit the most from the increased NFL salary cap in 2022. Others looking for extensions here soon will also use this as leverage in negotiations with their teams.