There’s the amount of cap space a team has each year and then there’s the actual amount which is minus the amount they must keep available to pay for the contracts of their rookie draft class. That number is often overblown, but for the Raiders this year it’s actually somewhat significant.
Currently the Raiders have around a projected $70 million in cap space under the expected $190 million salary cap. That’s sixth most in the league. But if you factor in their rookie pool, you have to adjust that number a bit with regard to how much they will have to spend in free agency.
On its surface, the Raiders have a rookie pool number of $14.6 million, which is the most in the NFL. The Cardinals, who have the top pick in the draft, are second with $12.6 million according to Overthecap.com.
Obviously the reason the Raiders have such a high rookie cap number is because they have three first round picks and four picks in the top 35.
The total rookie pool number can’t be taken at face value. That’s the raw number simply adding up the figures for the team’s entire draft class. But two important factors come into play here.
First; each pick will knock another player’s salary out of the top 51. Second; lower round picks will not be paid enough to count in the top 51, so they won’t count against the cap at all. The cutoff is usually the fourth round.
Those top four rounds of picks for the Raiders adds up to about $12.9 million. From that, you subtract at least $495K for each player drafted because that’s the minimum amount a player at the bottom will be making who will drop out of the top 51 when the rookie is signed. The Raiders have nine picks in the draft so subtract another $4.4 million from the rookie pool number.
What you are left with is $8.5 million needed to sign the rookie class. Take that off of the Raiders total under the cap and they have around $61.5 million to play with come free agency.