What Does Dead Cap Mean in NFL?

Discover what dead cap means in the NFL and how it impacts teams’ salary cap space. Explore examples, case studies, and statistics on dead cap in the league.


Dead cap is a term used in the NFL to describe the salary cap space that is used up by players who are no longer on the team. It can have a significant impact on a team’s ability to sign new players or make other roster moves. Let’s take a closer look at what dead cap means in the NFL.

What is Dead Cap?

In simple terms, dead cap is the amount of money that a team is still paying to a player who is no longer on the roster. This usually occurs when a player is released or traded before their contract expires. The remaining portion of the player’s signing bonus or guaranteed money is accelerated onto the team’s salary cap for the current or future seasons.


For example, let’s say a player signs a 4-year contract worth $40 million with a $10 million signing bonus. If the player is released after 2 years, the team will have $5 million in dead cap for each of the remaining 2 years of the contract.

Impact on Teams

Dead cap can have a significant impact on a team’s ability to manage their roster and salary cap. Teams with high dead cap numbers may have less flexibility to sign new players or extend current players’ contracts. It can also hinder a team’s ability to make trades or other roster moves.

Case Study: Philadelphia Eagles

In 2021, the Philadelphia Eagles had one of the highest dead cap numbers in the league at over $40 million. This was largely due to the trades of Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery, which resulted in significant dead cap charges for the team. As a result, the Eagles had limited cap space to sign new players or make other roster moves.


  • According to Spotrac, the Atlanta Falcons had the highest dead cap number in the league in 2021 at over $49 million.
  • Dead cap space can fluctuate from year to year based on player contracts, trades, and releases.
  • Teams have to carefully manage their salary cap and dead cap space to ensure they can field a competitive roster.

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