An in-depth look at the cap room the Oakland Raiders will have for the 2017 offseason.
Prior to the start of free agency, the Oakland Raiders have $43,048,488 in cap room, per Over The Cap. But that is not what they’ll have to spend in free agency and the draft — far from it, actually.
But if you were to spend a few minutes talking to Raider Nation, you’d likely learn that many think Reggie McKenzie is going to put together a free agent haul similar to the 2016 offseason, when he inked Kelechi Osemele, Sean Smith and Bruce Irvin to big deals.
Let’s take a look at what kind of money Oakland really is going to have available to spend this offseason, and why fans should temper their expectations with the upcoming free agent crop.
For the sake of easy math and to keep things simple, since the salary cap can be quite complicated, let’s just say the Raiders have $43 million in cap space.
The biggest thing that is going to take away from Oakland’s cap space this offseason is the extension of franchise quarterback Derek Carr, and to a lesser degree, an extension for Gabe Jackson — if the team decides to also do that this offseason.
But we’ll start with Carr’s eventual new deal.
The common line of thinking is that D.C. is going to command a contract similar to what Andrew Luck signed a couple years back — roughly in the neighborhood of $23M annually. Luck’s deal was 5-years, $122.97M with a $32M signing bonus and $87M guaranteed.
So give or take a bit, that’s the type of money we’re talking about here. And don’t expect a hometown discount.
Now, the question we’re asking here isn’t what Carr’s total deal will be. The question here is how much Carr’s extension will affect what the Raiders have to spend this offseason. And as mentioned above, to a lesser extent, Gabe Jackson’s.
We reached out to Jason Fitzgerald of Over The Cap for an answer. Simply put, to reiterate, we asked him — “If Derek Carr and Gabe Jackson both sign extensions this offseason, how much will that affect Oakland’s salary cap this offseason?”
Here is what Jason from OTC replied with:
"“Any contracts that are signed by the players you mentioned [Carr and Jackson] will contain cap hits that will be strictly related to the type of contract that is signed. It will depend on what base salary and signing bonus they agree to. The Raiders don’t really do signing bonuses, workout or roster bonuses, so that may not factor in for their players.For a player of Carr’s stature, the expected first new year contract payout (meaning money earned on top of his existing salary between now and the end of the 2018 season) would be in the ballpark of probably $45 million. So if the Raiders did not use a signing bonus, that would likely equate to something like a $23M cap charge in each of the next two seasons. If they used a signing bonus, those totals could be lower, but on the backend of the contract you may get some years in the $25M+ category.”"
So basically, the bottom line is that for Carr’s new deal, the Raiders could be on the hook for a $23M cap hit this offseason and another $23M cap hit next season, and so on.
If McKenzie does follow the structure that Fitzgerald suggests (which he suggested based on McKenzie’s contract history) the Raiders will drop from $43M in spending money down to $20M.
Regarding Gabe, here is what Jason had to say:
"“Gabe Jackson definitely would not get a signing bonus. I can’t say that I’m completely up on where he would rank in the hierarchy, but that’s probably a first-year of around $14M for him on top of the existing salary. So a rough estimate would be an $8M cap number this year and another $8M next year.So somewhere in the ballpark of $30M in additional charges if they extended those players using the typical Raider formula. Less if they do something different with Carr.”"
So if you didn’t catch that, the Raiders could be on the hook for another $8M this offseason if they extend Gabe.
Again, that’s a $23M cap hit this offseason for Carr and another $8M for Gabe. $31M total.
Which drops Oakland’s spending money from $43M all the way down to $12M.
If the Raiders made some cuts — let’s say Dan Williams, they could save $4.5M there. They could save $6M by releasing Reggie Nelson. They could also restructure Sean Smith and/or David Amerson in an effort to free up additional spending money.
For argument’s sake, let’s just say that Dan Williams is cut. That bumps the spending money up to $16.5M. But then the Raiders still have to bring back their own free agents, which between unrestricted and restricted, there are 18 of them.
If they bring back 10 of them, and most of them should be small deals — but even at $1M per player, that’s $10M gone.
Which brings the spending money back down to $6.5M.
Being slotted at the 24th pick is going to cost about $5M or $6M total with all their picks, which eats up just about all the money that would have been left.
So barring some nifty maneuvering of the salary cap, the Raiders aren’t going to be backing up the brink trucks this offseason — at least not for potential free agent acquisitions.
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Not to be the bearer of bad news here, but numbers don’t lie. The Raiders aren’t going to sign Tony Jefferson, Dont’a Hightower and Calais Campbell, or some wild fantasy combination of whoever is on your free agent wish list.
But again, as mentioned, they could do some things to find some additional money to spend. And I’m sure McKenzie will do several of those things.
Maybe just flat out cut Sean Smith instead of restructuring him. Restructure David Amerson or Crabtree, or maybe Hudson or Osemele. Cut Austin Howard and eat some dead money, or cut Reggie Nelson.
They could also cut Taiwan Jones, Ben Heeney, Keith McGill and some other smaller contracts.
Whatever McKenzie decides to do, he’ll surely free up some money to make a little something happen this offseason. But with Khalil Mack due for an extension next offseason, don’t expect him to get roped into any huge long-term deals.