In my never ending quest to improve my Lions Salary Cap numbers I took some time these past few days to try to locate more accurate information. Mostly I was looking for Calvin Johnson information but as usually happens I came across a few tweaks to other players contracts as well.
What hasn't changed: At this point in time I still have the Lions with 46 players under contract and the salaries for those 46 players hasn't changed (yet). The 46 players salaries still add up to $85,665,750.
What changed a little: My signing bonus allocations were off by approximately $250,000 with there being some corrections made to Delmas, Cherilus, and CJ's contract numbers (and there might have been a few others as well, didn't keep a log book of the changes made). The signing bonus allocations (a number that can not be reduced even if the player is cut or restructures) is now at $22,256,769.
What changed a lot: Other bonuses went from around $5.25 million to $9,068,928 with the majority of that coming from Calvin Johnson's contract. Apparently his much advertised $4.5 million bonus from last year wasn't a NLTBE bonus but was instead an incentive that affects this year's cap via a roster bonus. I assume it's guaranteed. He already had a roster bonus due, but because he hit his various targets last year it increased to $4.5 million.
The good news, the Lions cap won't be adjusted downwards $4.5 million as I had expected (at least, I do not believe it will be, there is still that super outside chance that CJ gets both bonuses, it's just very very unlikely).
The bad news, my new number that the Lions have tied up into the cap is $116,991,447
Which is quite obviously not the reported $122.8 million some have quoted. Near as I can tell, everyone is reporting the same number from the same source ... too bad that source wasn't me, then they would all be reporting a different number. That said, the other source may be right, or I may be right, or more likely, the real number falls somewhere in between. I'm okay with that. I know my numbers could be off and constantly am looking out for more information to improve my accuracy. I will never submit to anyone my numbers are totally accurate.
So how much cap space do the Lions have? Depends on what numbers you want to use (I hate that answer too). Let's say the 2012 base cap number per team is $123 million. The Lions have a $1.47 million cap carryover from 2011 coming to add to that. They will also probably borrow $1.5 million from 2015-2017 in cap space and that would make it $125,970,000 or the base might be $120 mill, making the number just under $123 mill. I may be missing some bonus money still (even after triple checking everything). If I'm close, then take whichever number above you want, say the $125.97 number and subtract what I think they are in for (the $116,991,447 number) and you get they have available just under $9 million in cap space.
Hold up! They also have 7 draft picks (1 in each of rounds 1 through 5 and 2 picks in round 7) that'll probably cost them $4.3 million (at least it cost the teams who picked in those spots that much last year).
They have 4 RFA (restricted free agents) they may tender. The tender amounts are not yet set but estimates are $1,260,000 for an Original Round tender, $1,927,000 for a Second Round tender, and $2,742,000 for a First Round tender.
All this and they still haven't signed a single free agent; guys like Avril, and Tulloch, and Wright and Backus, even Muhlback and Hill or Stanton.
One good thing to note, they have 46 under contract so after signing 5 more then for each new contract the lowest one (#52) drops off the cap (only the top 51 contracts count during the off season). So after the next 5 guys are signed number 6 causes $390,000 and eventually more to drop off the cap. Not a lot but it helps.
One thing becomes clear, reducing Calvin Johnson's cap number by getting him a new extended contract would help, and re-structuring other vets to cap friendlier contracts (which hurt future years by however much it helps this year) becomes more and more important as the date of March 13th draws closer.