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Space under salary cap is great, but Raiders still must reach cap floor

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Fans rejoice when they hear of the Raiders tremendous amount of spending room under the salary cap. They currently have the second most cap room in the NFL below the Jacksonville Jaguars. But per the CBA each team must also spend a certain amount to reach the salary cap floor and the Raiders and Jaguars are still well below it.

Thursday NFLPA head DeMaurice Smith pointed out that the Raiders and Jaguars are the only two teams in the league who are below the league's spending minimum.

"As you know we are heading into the last year of the rolling 4-year traunch that requires every team to spend at least 89% of the salary cap in cash," Smith said at Thursday's Super Bowl 50 press conference. "As we head into next year there are only two teams that are now below the 89% mandatory cash spent and that is the Raiders and the Jacksonville Jaguars. Our rough estimate is that Oakland is approximately $41 million under and Jacksonville is approximately $28 million under. We will be looking at where these teams fit or fall at the end of next year to make sure that they comply with the rigors of the Collective Bargaining Agreement."

Should the team not reach that cap floor, whatever goes unspent will be distributed evenly among the Raiders players currently on the roster. The Raiders would rather that money go toward actual contracts for players who might help the team win.

The past couple offseasons the Raiders have had to make up for lost time with regard to spending. The new regime's first couple offseasons were spent shedding the team of what Reggie McKenzie called "out of whack" contracts. Those cuts left the team with considerable amounts of dead money which take up cap space but don't count toward the minimum spending limit.

Last offseason, the Raiders were major players in the free agent market and front loaded most of those contracts. But even with their aggressive efforts, they still were left with some $13 million to spend under the cap which rolled over to this offseason, giving putting them at nearly $68 million available under the salary cap.

They are once again expected to make a big splash in free agency. They are also expected to continue to structure their contracts with money up front which would help considerably to cutting into that $41 million.

There is also a good chance the team looks to lock up current players to long term extensions. Re-signing punter Marquette King - who is set to become a free agent - should be a high priority. Now might be a good time to offer Khalil Mack and Derek Carr -- who are both heading into their third season - extensions as well, which would help spend that money as well.

With $68 million available to spend, and several areas of need to fill, reaching that $41 million cap floor shouldn't be tough to reach. All in all, the Raiders have managed it well considering a couple years ago they were much farther behind.