According to Pro Football Talk, the NFL salary cap is to be officially set at $182.5M—which means that the Indianapolis Colts have roughly $47M of cap space available at their disposal this early offseason.
PFT’s report was later confirmed by multiple league sources on Wednesday morning:
Teams are now being informed: The cap is $182.5M.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) March 10, 2021
The NFL just informed teams the 2021 salary cap will be $182.5 million per club, source said.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 10, 2021
NFL salary cap this season will be $182.5 million.— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) March 10, 2021
The NFL informed teams this morning that the salary cap has been set at $182.5 million, per sources.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) March 10, 2021
With last year’s salary cap at $198.2M, that’s roughly a $16M decrease in this offseason’s salary cap as there were league-wide revenue shortfalls because of the negative impacts of COVID-19.
It’ll be interesting to see how some NFL teams plan to create more ‘wiggle room’ under the decreased salary cap:
The NFL informed clubs they won't be allowed to borrow cap room from future years to help them in 2021 under Article 11, Section 2 of the CBA, per sources.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 10, 2021
So, it's a hard $182.5 million salary cap, though obviously teams have carryover and various mechanisms to clear space.
It also could make for an unusual free agency period, as while the elite free agents will still presumably get paid, it could make for a ‘cooler market’ for some of the mid-tier starters and veterans.
Meanwhile, the Colts continue to ‘sit pretty’ with tremendous salary cap flexibility going forward—and the ability to add an impact free agent or two this offseason.
That being said, Colts general manager Chris Ballard is well aware that the team has some looming lucrative contract extensions coming up for Darius Leonard and Braden Smith after the 2021 season, as well as offensive guard Quenton Nelson—just an offseason later, to be totally mindful of.
However, given the unusual salary cap landscape that teams now find themselves in, the Colts are in a far more favorable position in this ‘new frontier’ than a lot of other teams right now.