NFL Salary Cap Rundown 2024 | Teams with Most and Least Cap Space

by Joel Ybarra · Contracts & Free Agency
NFL Cap Space 2024

It’s Championship Weekend, which means most NFL teams have started their offseasons. NFL execs will soon be looking to utilize free agency, trades, and the NFL Draft to shore up roster spots for coming seasons. They must also keep an eye on the league’s salary cap, which will increase this season (as usual) and be determined later this month. NFL teams approach the league’s salary constraints differently, depending on their trajectory. Some max out their cash spending in a given season, adding win-now pieces to push for the playoffs. Others go over the cap from past contract restructures that have pushed money owed into the future. Still other teams are rebuilding and have cap space available to invest in free agents and other acquisitions they believe will be roster pillars for years to come.

As we go into the offseason, it’s useful to stay up-to-date on which teams have salary cap space available and which are bursting at the seams cap-wise and will have to make cuts, trades or restructures to get into cap compliance. The salary cap is real and has an impact on team structure and acquisitions. Let’s take a look at some of the most interesting salary cap situations in the NFL – which teams have the most space, which are going to have to offload players and contracts to get under the cap, and how it will affect their team building in 2024 and beyond.

Teams with Most Projected Salary Cap Space in 2024

As you might expect, the teams with the most effective cap space entering 2024 are all in some kind of rebuild. The Colts brought in a new head coach (Shane Steichen) and quarterback (Anthony Richardson) last season. The three other teams with the most cap space – the Commanders, Titans, and Patriots – will all have new head coaches heading into 2024, and will be able to give their new coaches hires cash to spend.

(Note: Cap Space numbers are from Over the Cap, January 27, 2024. Team Cap numbers change frequently. See current cap numbers at OTC here.)

Commanders – $62.6M Effective Cap Space

The Commanders own the No. 2 pick in the 2024 Draft and are in line for one of the top two quarterbacks, Caleb Williams or Drake Maye. They traded Chase Young and Montez Sweat at the trade deadline during the 2023 season. That means Terry McLaurin and two defensive linemen – Da’Ron Payne and Jonathan Allen – carry the largest cap hits heading into 2024.

McLaurin is signed to a three-year, $68.4M contract. Jahan Dotson and Brian Robinson are still on their rookie deals, but that will not preclude the Commanders from adding weapons in free agency and/or the NFL Draft. Curtis Samuel and Antonio Gibson will be free agents, and 32-year-old Logan Thomas is a likely cut candidate. How the Commanders choose to spend the cap space they have available will be up to new GM Adam Peters and the team’s new head coach, Ben Johnson.

Titans – $62M Effective Cap Space

The Titans are another team in flux after the firing of Mike Vrabel, their head coach of six years. They will be picking in the top-10 (No. 7) in the 2024 NFL Draft. GM Ran Carthon and new head coach, Brian Callahan, will decide if they are going to stick with Will Levis as the starter in 2024 after a decent rookie showing. Carthon was hired as GM following the 2022 season and is tasked with a decent-sized rebuild. He’ll have plenty of cap space with which to sign talent. The Titans are in need of offensive weapons and offensive line help.

Patriots – $57.3M Effective Cap Space

The Pats parted ways with Bell Belichick, and Jerod Mayo has been promoted to head coach from within the organization. Belichick the GM built an interesting roster on which the highest paid players going into 2024 are Matthew Judon and JC Jackson, both with cap numbers just over $14M. The long-tenured head coach took pride in coaching up middling talent and was successful in doing so – on defense. At least he has put the Patriots in a position where they have cap room to invest on both sides of the ball and shore up roster holes.

It will be a new era in New England with an improved roster and a top-tier rookie quarterback. Dane Brugler has mocked Marvin Harrison, Jr. to New England, but the team holds the No. 3 overall pick in a draft with multiple first-round quarterbacks available. Even without a great roster otherwise, it wouldn’t make much sense for the team to pass up the opportunity to draft their quarterback of the future.

Colts – $54.7 M Effective Cap Space

The Colts entered the 2023 season with a new quarterback and a new coach and looked like one of the best young offenses in the league. Richardson suffered a season-ending injury and the rebuild was put on pause. Michael Pittman is slated to become a free agent, but he played a central part of the team’s offense in 2023 and it looks as if they will re-sign him for 2024.

The Colts hold the No. 15 pick in a Draft deep with wide receivers. Josh Downs is a nice young slot receiver, but the Colts could add another outside receiver in the Draft.

Teams with Least Projected Salary Cap Space in 2024

Saints – $87.8M Over the Cap (Effective Cap Space)

The Saints are already in the habit of restructuring contracts, as they are perennially in a position where they have to manipulate deals to get into cap compliance. They already restructured Marshon Lattimore’s contract in January, but will have to continue restructuring other deals and look at the rest of the roster to make some cuts to find cap relief.

The Saints are in the worst of all situations with a middling roster, but no cap space with which to improve it. A lot of their cap number is eaten up by bonus allocation and void years from previous contract restructures. They will continue to do restructures and push some of what they owe on current contracts into the future. Otherwise, they will have to trade some aging veterans for draft capital and enter a full rebuild. That is not likely given their long-standing tendencies.

Cut Candidates

Dolphins – $58.9M Over the Cap (Effective Cap Space)

The Dolphins top cap hits are win-now pieces Tyreek Hill, Jalen Ramsey, and Bradley Chubb. They are in a position to cut some others, as below, to create some cap space. They should be able to move some pieces and easily get under the cap.

Cut Candidates

Bills – $53.9M Over the Cap (Effective Cap Space)

The Bills have made the playoffs in recent seasons but have fallen short of their Super Bowl expectations. Their roster appears to be pretty locked in for 2024. It is a roster that is built to compete, but the front office needs to make some moves and restructure contracts to get into cap compliance.

The Bills can move on from Tre’Davious White and possibly some other cut candidates below. There is also speculation the Bills could move on from Stefon Diggs. They would likely want to trade him and hope another team will take on and pay part of his contract.

Cut Candidates:

Chargers – $55.4M Over the Cap (Effective Cap Space)

The Chargers are another organization who will have a new coach (Jim Harbaugh) and a new GM going into 2024. Similar to the Saints, the roster has underperformed. The Chargers, however, are in a better position to manipulate their roster, get under the cap, and prepare for the future. Three of their four top cap hits are Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Joey Bosa. Those are aging veterans and could provide some cap savings by restructure or release.

Cut Candidates

It’s hard to imagine a new regime would not want to come in and make some substantive changes to the roster and focus on the future of the franchise.

Buckle Up for the Offseason

We are getting ready to plunge headlong into the NFL offseason, including the free agency period in March. There are some very interesting offensive and defensive free agents available. Players like Saquon Barkley and Tee Higgins, if not franchise-tagged, will become some of the most coveted free agents on the offensive side of the ball. They represent some of the most interesting potential signings of the 2024 offseason.