Madden 21 information is coming soon which means it’s time to look at potential franchise teams. A large component of good team building is cap flexibility.
I have compiled a list of the best and worst cap situations heading into Madden 21. The current salary cap figures I used were from Over the Cap, which can be found here. Keep in mind that large signings, re-signings, and restructures can change these numbers quickly moving forward.
What makes a cap situation good?
A “good situation” is having the financial flexibility to easily maneuver your team. The issue here is that starting cap numbers can be misleading for franchise players in Madden. When you start a franchise, you are almost exclusively working from the next year’s salary cap. In season one the only contracts applied to the salary cap are free agents you can acquire on one-year deals. All re-signings work from the following year’s cap. This structure allows the sometimes-gaudy cap figures to lull users into a false sense of financial security.
EA has recently put a large amount of effort into making sure that player contracts are correct at launch. The idea is for the contracts of real-life players to mirror their actual yearly structure. It is not uncommon for a player’s contract in real-life to make a huge leap from one year to another. This acceleration of the player salary can force users into bad financial situations down the road. We will focus on the year two cap figures and these accelerating contracts to evaluate the teams.
Who’s in a good situation?
Indianapolis Colts- $110 Million
The Colts project to have a large amount of cap, but that’s partially due to only 42 players under contract. The cap space increase from year one to year two is mainly attributed to a few veteran departures. Expiring deals of Phillip Rivers and Jacoby Brissett account for the majority with a combined $46 million in cap savings. Pass rusher Justin Houston figures to be another cap casualty if he does not retire freeing up an additional $13 million. Owners will have to make a tough decision on 31-year-old WR T.Y. Hilton, as well as decide if they want to pay top of the market Center money to Ryan Kelly.
New England Patriots- $90 Million
The Patriots go from nearly $1 million in current cap space to $90 million the following year making them a big year two winner. Off the top, $26 million in dead money is credited back in year two providing major cap relief. From there the $14 million cap hit of guard Joe Thuney comes off the books and most likely setups a cheaper long-term resigning in-game. Expiring contracts of over 30 players such as Dont’a Hightower, Mohamed Sanu, Jason McCourty, Lawrence Guy, and Rex Burkhead make up a majority of the cap savings we see for year two.
Jacksonville Jaguars- $96 Million
Currently sitting at 11th in cap available for year one, when looking out to year two they skyrocket to the top of the cap space list with the added benefit of boasting 52 guys under contract already. The large cap space bump comes with the projection of Yannick Ngakoue’s $17 million dollar tag number falling off along with nearly $37 million of dead money coming back into play, much of it due to the Nick Foles trade this season. In terms of overall health, the roster is in a really good situation as only two players have contracts that have negative cap savings if moved in year two and those are Josh Allen (Edge) and Joe Schobert (LB).
Who’s in a bad situation?
Atlanta Falcons- $59,000
The Falcons shed some well-known veterans heading into the 2020 season but that isn’t enough to fix their 2021 situation. Going into year two of the franchise, Falcons owners will be looking at roughly $59,000 to work with and 46 players under contract. The major salary cap issue is the $40 million dollar cap hit QB Matt Ryan carries into the year. To make things worse his contract contains a $49 million dollar dead money penalty making it a net loss of $9 million to part ways. There are some potential moves to salvage this situation such as cutting Ricardo Allen and Jamon Brown however, it will be tight and still doesn’t provide the ability to re-sign upcoming free agents such as Alex Mack, Todd Gurley, Keanu Neal, or Takkarist McKinley.
New Orleans Saints – ($34 Million)
A projected negative $34 million dollars in cap space for the 2021 season is a real problem for the Saints. It makes sense the Saints are all in this year as their projections for the following season are dire. The Saints end up in this situation on the back of a couple of correctible issues. A $13 million dollar cap acceleration from Drew Brees is painful but can be overcome by trading or releasing him at the start of the second season. The other issue here is the Saints currently are holding two 5th year options, one for Ryan Ramczk at $11 million and another for Marshon Lattmore at $10 million.
The Saints are a fluid team for me heading into Madden 21. If the Saints can get long term deals done with both players before Madden releases the cap should become far more manageable. Assuming extensions get done and Brees moves on, cuts to guys such as Taysom Hill, Janoris Jenkins, and Emmanuel Sander should be all that needed to fix this situation.
Philadelphia Eagles- ($50 Million)
The Eagles in real-life rely heavily on the restructuring of contracts to make this type of cap structure work. With these tools currently unavailable inside of Madden as of writing this, the situation in Philadelphia is not good. The Eagles got here through the accelerations of contracts of Wentz, Johnson, Cox, Graham, and Malik Jackson. Combine the accelerated salaries with the addition of Darius Slay’s large contract and you end up in a really bad place financially.
While their situation was bad in Madden 20, this situation appears to be mathematically impossible using the current math. There are 52 players under contract for 2021 with negative $50 million in cap space. There are contracts users may cut and return positive savings. I was able to create $51 million in cap savings by cutting Cox, Brooks, Jeffrey, Jackson, Ertz, Goodwin, and Barnett.
The issue then becomes one of player count, as you’d be sitting at 45 players before the draft. Those cuts also don’t take into account the $7-$10 million you will need for your rookie class. There may be a way to make this roster work, but I don’t see it as it stands today.