The first salary cap number was finally nailed down today. The new figure will be $120.6 million, according to NFL insider Jay Glazer, which is an increase of $225,000 from last year's cap number of $120.375 million. The final number has long been expected at or near last year's cap number which is how the cap projections have been made, up to this point.
Aaron Curry is the latest to sign an extension with the team and it is a reported one year extension which simply splits his 2012 salary of $5.8 million over two seasons, lowering his cap hit by $2.9 million this year. This according to Aaron Ross.
The Raiders books currently have them around $7.7 million under that cap. If you factor in the Tyvon Branch franchise tag number of $6.2 million (which he has yet to sign), the Raiders are still below the salary cap by about $1.5 million. Although, I expect the final number to be much different come 4pm EST on Tuesday when free agency starts.
There are several player contracts which could change in the next couple of days.
The biggest savings could come from cutting of veteran defensive tackle, John Henderson. That would save an additional $4 million.
Another place where some savings could come is by getting the long term deal with Tyvon Branch finished prior to Tuesday's deadline. The team would like to lock him up long term and if they were able to come to an agreement, it could significantly lower his cap hit. They would simply need to do what they had done with the restructures. Lower his base salary in 2012 from the franchise tag $6.2 million down to the veteran minimum and offer him a signing bonus (let's say $8 million) on a four year deal. That would pro rate over the life of the contract and lower his cap number this season to $2.8 million-- a savings of $3.4 million.
The team would like to do something about Kamerion Wimbley's contract. If he is cut, it would save the Raiders $2 million. He and the team have not spoken for going on four days and it appears he is destined to be cut. The Raiders would very much like to have him back which is why they haven't simply cut him already. But he would very likely need to take a straight pay cut which is something he has said he is unwilling to do.
There are plenty of other players who could also restructure but just between the three of these players, the Raiders could lower their salary against the cap an additional $9.4 million for a total of around $10.9 million to spend. There is some good talent that could be signed with that kind of money.
Other potential restructures include: DT Tommy Kelly ($8.9 mil), WR Darrius Heyward-Bey ($8.2 mil), RB Darren McFadden ($9.5 mil), P Shane Lechler ($4.9 mil), TE Kevin Boss ($4.75 mil), PK Sebastian Janikowski ($4.5 mil), OG Cooper Carlisle ($3 mil).