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Free Agency: What you need to know

With free agency set to begin next week, the 2014 salary cap has officially been established at $133 million per club, a $10 million increase over last year.



The new NFL year begins March 11 at 4 p.m. ET, which marks the start of free agency.

Prior to the start of free agency, beginning on March 8, clubs are permitted to contact and enter into contract negotiations with certified agents of players who will become unrestricted free agents at 4 p.m. on March 11. However, a contract cannot be executed with a new club until March 11.

Below are frequently asked questions about the salary cap, answered by the NFL Players Association:

How does the salary cap number impact each team?

The $133 million is the per club salary cap. However, each team may, at its own discretion, carry over unused salary cap room from the prior League Year. Most clubs elected to carry over salary cap room from 2013 to 2014. The average carry over for those teams that elected to do so was $6.1 million per club. Thus, those clubs have an average of $139.1 million to spend on player salaries in 2014.

How is the salary cap calculated?

The salary cap is calculated by taking a percentage of all projected NFL revenues, subtracting projected benefits for the upcoming season, and dividing by 32 teams.

What are team minimum cash spends?

Under the current CBA, clubs have minimum cash spending requirements. For the years 2013-2016, clubs are required to spend an average of 89% of the salary cap over the four-year period. League-wide, clubs must spend an average of 95% of the Salary Cap over the four-year period. This creates a cash-spend floor, forcing historically low-spending clubs to offer overall competitive compensation for packages.

Are player benefits taken out of this $133 million?

The $133 million salary cap is the cap on active player salaries. In addition, each club will spend in excess of $33 million in benefits. This includes pension, severance, workers' compensation, insurance premiums, disability benefits, etc.

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