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2021 NFL Free Agency: Salary Cap Set Finally Set

The squeeze is here.

Buffalo Bills v New England Patriots Photo by Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Because of COVID-19, NFL stadiums were ghost towns in 2020. Fans eventually were littered here and there like trash strewn across a chain link fence in New Mexico. The ghoulish howls were replaced by pumped-in crowd noise. Hyper reality took over the NFL, the simulation had no bounds. Football was played, but in a different, emptier way.

The NFL’s salary cap is tied directly to the money that comes in the previous season. Thanks to a decrease in ticket sales, the 2021 NFL salary cap has shrunk instead of expanding like it typically does. Adam Schefter reported that this year’s salary cap has dropped from $198.2 million to $182.5 million.

Free agency in the NFL will dramatically change this year. Players will swarm to one-year contracts to take a gap year, betting on themselves to pursue a long-term and more lucrative contract in 2022. Teams that sign players to multi-year contracts will have the opportunity to smash the bargain bin and get production at a cheaper rate thanks to the constrains of this year’s cap.

The NFL’s legal free agency tampering period begins March 15th. Teams have already began to shed their skin. This year’s free agency period, like every year, will be wet and wild. This year will be even wetter and wilder than usual.