With $117,948,500 already committed to the 2012 salary cap and only 37 players under contract, it could be a very challenging offseason next year. The cap will be around $125M leaving only $7M in room for draft picks, RFA's and other players to bring the roster to full strength.
Campbell, Bush, Groves, Scott and Barnes will all be UFA's next year, as will Satele, Branch and Boller (among others but these are the interesting ones). So obviously we'll be spending some major bucks on a QB and backup QB (I highly doubt Pryor will be ready to lead the team in 2012) plus some at some other key roster spots. I'm assuming that 3 or the 5 starting offensive linemen from 2011 won't be on the team in 2012. Hopefully Barksdale and Campbell can step it up so we don't need to overpay free agents to solve this problem.
Desmond Bryant and Bruce Davis are the only projected restricted free agents. To keep their rights, we'll need around $1.2M each. I suspect that neither will be tendered and the team will try to resign them to deals more befitting their worth.
There is also a chance already painful contracts become even worse. DHB can still earn additional escalators for 2012 (and beyond). His 2012 base already went up $3.674M for his 2010 "performance" (if you can figure out what he did to earn that, please let me know). Releasing him would be an option but it would accelerate his remaining option bonus proration (3 years at $2.63M each). He counts $11,415,000 against the cap this year - ouch! McFadden has another $2.5M in escalators for 2012 depending upon his playin 2011.
Some likely candidates for release are Chris Johnson (saves $2.5M), Cooper Carlisle (saves $2.4M), Hiram Eugene (saves $2.25M), John Henderson (saves $1.75M). Other players will be asked to restructure their contract. Huff has a $4M roster bonus that could be converted to an option bonus.
However, each year this team pulls a rabbit out of the hat and finds a way to stay under the cap and add even more talent. The uncapped year really helped the team remove a lot of dead wood from their books but that really won't be an option in the future. Stay tuned...