The NFL Salary Cap Just Went Up $30.6 Million From Last Year To $255.4 Million… More Than Doubled Since 2013

Kirk Cousins Vikings

As if the NFL offseason wasn’t already going to be electric as usual between free agency and the 2024 draft, a big Friday news bomb dropped about the salary cap for the new league year. It’s up over $30 million from 2023, and has skyrocketed from $123 million in 2013 to $255.4 million at present.

For players who are poised to sign new contracts, and those organizations who are currently flush with salary cap space, this is a most welcome development. Look at the Chicago Bears, for instance. They own the first and ninth overall picks thanks to their trade with Carolina, when the Panthers moved up to draft Bryce Young. Chicago also has $68.2 million in effective cap space to play with before the draft, where they’ll presumably make Caleb Williams their new franchise quarterback. Justin Fields’ Instagram behavior made this even more apparent. I mean, Fields wouldn’t say that, but let’s call a spade a spade.

Other promising teams who aren’t in the middle of a gargantuan rebuild include the Indianapolis Colts and my beloved Cincinnati Bengals. The Colts ($68.1M in effective cap space) nearly made the playoffs with Gardner Minshew at QB, and could really take a huge step forward in 2024 with a healthy Anthony Richardson under center.

Meanwhile, the Bengals ($66.6M in free cap) don’t have that many critical free agents to re-sign outside of wide receiver Tee Higgins. The big Joe Burrow deal got done before last season. Burrow will embark on a necessarily-capitalized Vengeance Tour with Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins in the fold, whether Tee is brought back on the franchise tag, or a long-term deal is worked out. A raised salary cap ceiling certainly improves the odds that Cincinnati can strike a deal with Higgins and still have room for Chase’s impending mega extension.

Holy hell did the entire macro plot of the NFL just thicken with this news. I don’t think I’ve written or said a variation of a sentence more often in the past few years than this post-colon collection of words: The new media rights deals the NFL agreed upon — worth a cool $10 billion through 2033 — started kicking in this past season.

I’m not some business savant. You didn’t need to be to clearly see that the NFL salary cap would continue to explode as a result of those updated deals. That’s exactly what has transpired. And that’s exactly what will continue to transpire for the next decade, barring some unforeseen calamity.

This is freaking awesome. The NFL is king. This league is lapping every other major North American professional sport, and for good reason. There’s nothing like it. There’s so much competitive urgency. So much money, myriad legacies and livelihoods at stake at all times. It’s a thrilling sport, played by the most grown-a** men athletes imaginable. I’ll never get into reality TV. Zero interest in it. Can’t wrap my mind around its widespread appeal. Why? Because I already watch the best reality TV show by a mile. It’s called the National Football League. It’s actually real, too!

I’m already hyped for next season. Us football junkies need news like this in the offseason for sustenance. Thank goodness we have the NFL Scouting Combine on deck this coming week, with free agency to follow not long thereafter.

And umm not to make this all about how locked in the 2024 Cincinnati Bengals are about to be, but can I get a WHOOOOOO DEYYYYYYYYYY.

Joe Burrow

A beer bottle on a dock



A beer bottle on a dock