The NFL salary cap will fall to $182.5 million in 2021, which is an 8% drop from the 2020 figure, according to ESPN's Kevin Seifert.
A drop in the salary cap was expected due to lost revenue from the COVID-19 crisis. Attendance across the league dropped 92% in 2020, per Seifert.
The salary cap reportedly could have dropped to as low as $160 million based on the declining revenue from 2020, per ESPN's Dan Graziano. However, the NFL and NFLPA worked to install a cap floor for the 2021 season, with the lowest possible number sitting at $175 million. This is the first year in more than a decade that the salary cap has dropped.
A decreased salary cap could depress salaries for players entering the free-agent pool when the new league year begins on March 17. A slate of marquee players have received the franchise tag from their respective teams, though there are numerous notable names set to enter the free-agent market. Lions wide receiver Kenny Golladay could command the most money on the open market, while Packers running back Aaron Jones is among the most prized offensive pieces available.
NFL teams must fall under the $182.5 million cap by Wednesday afternoon. The salary cap is expected to spike in 2022 as stadiums return to full capacity and a new television contract is finalized, per Seifert.