Rolling over the Salary Cap
The salary cap is easily manipulated. Teams can carry over unused cap space from the previous season adding extra cap space to their current cap number. This is known as an adjusted cap number. The Browns currently have the highest adjusted cap number in the NFL.
Cleveland carried over an unused $27 million in cap space into 2023. This raised the league-wide cap number of 224.8 million to 251.7 million for the next season. Instead of having to abide by the league-determined $224.8 million, the Browns can now spend 251.7 because they didn't spend all of their cap money last season.
You may be wondering, what kind of voodoo is this? Teams just cannot add money from last year to this year, it undermines the whole idea of a salary cap. You are correct it does. And yes, they can add money from last year.
The voice of Reason speaks. It says: the salary cap is a myth. There is no cap. No cap.
Let's re-examine the Browns journey through cap hell via the $230-million disaster. Watson's cap hit of roughly 55 million puts the Browns in the 3rd level of cap hell. Their total cap commitment right now is 264.9 per spotrac. Subtracting that from the 224.8 projected league-wide cap puts the Browns over the cap by 40.1 million, which would have been the second-highest overage in the league.
If you have been playing along at home, you will recognize that now is the time for the Browns to sign a player for roughly 40 million dollars a year — just like the Saints did. Because, if the cap were an actual thing, no rational team would put themselves deeper into cap hell.
However, using NFL salary cap voodoo economics, the Browns can add 27 million. This brings the Browns cap overage down to roughly 15 million, which places them six slots below the league average. They have more salary cap space than nine other NFL teams.
If that voodoo weren't enough, teams have other tricks up their sleeve, like this next one, further proving the NFL salary cap is a myth. There is no cap. No cap.