What Does Dead Money Mean in NFL

Discover the impact of dead money in the NFL, how it is calculated, and examples from the league. Learn how dead money can affect a team’s salary cap and roster decisions.

Understanding Dead Money in the NFL

Dead money in the NFL refers to salary cap space that is allocated to a player who has been released or traded but still counts against the team’s cap. It is a common term in the world of professional football that can have significant implications for a team’s financial flexibility and ability to build a competitive roster.

How Dead Money is Calculated

When a player is released or traded, any remaining signing bonus money that has not yet been accounted for against the team’s cap accelerates and counts as dead money. This can include guaranteed salary, option bonuses, and other forms of prorated bonus money.

Impact of Dead Money

Dead money can have a major impact on a team’s salary cap situation. It can limit the amount of cap space available for signing new players, re-signing existing players, or making trades. Teams with a significant amount of dead money may struggle to field a competitive roster or make key personnel moves.

Examples of Dead Money

One of the most infamous cases of dead money in the NFL is the contract of former quarterback, Brock Osweiler. After signing a lucrative deal with the Houston Texans, Osweiler was traded to the Cleveland Browns. The Texans were left with a significant amount of dead money from his contract, which limited their ability to make other moves.

Case Study: Philadelphia Eagles

In 2020, the Philadelphia Eagles had over $70 million in dead money on their salary cap, more than any other team in the league. This dead money was largely due to the release of several high-priced veterans, including quarterback Carson Wentz. The Eagles’ dead money situation made it difficult for them to make significant roster upgrades and led to a challenging season.

Statistics on Dead Money

  • According to Spotrac, an NFL salary cap website, the average dead money amount per team in 2021 is $13.6 million.
  • The team with the lowest dead money in 2021 is the Los Angeles Rams, with just $613,000.
  • Since 2015, the Pittsburgh Steelers have consistently had one of the lowest dead money amounts in the league, demonstrating their strategic approach to managing player contracts.

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