When it comes to the Detroit Lions salary cap situation it is very rare when you get real and accurate information. Every nugget is precious and helps me to more accurately track their cap situation... that is when the new information doesn't confuse the issue. Yesterday I received a link to some of that accurate information and after studying it I'm left with only a couple of questions.
First, the information: http://blogs.nfl.com/2012/03/30/salary-cap-situation-for-each-team/
Now the specific Lions info from that link:
Current contracts: 47
Previous year carryover: $1,364,071.00
Adjusted cap: $124,766,555.00
Team cap: $120,246,822.00
Cap room: $4,519,733.00
Team cash: $117,573,300.00
And now the explanation (or my interpretation) of that info going line by line. The information is based on the top 51 contracts as those are the only ones that currently count against the salary cap until the season starts. The Lions Current Contracts number is 47 because there are 4 unsigned tenders that also count against the cap. Avril's franchise tag, Levy's Hilliard's and Sammie Lee Hill's restricted free agent tenders.
It was reported elsewhere multiple times that the Lions carryover from 2011 was $1.3 million. The accurate number is actually $1,364,071.00 (a great example of why it's so hard to be accurate). This was information I did not have until yesterday.
The Lions have Adjustments of $2,802,484.00. This number would normally consist of LTBE (Likely To Be Earned) bonuses that were not earned last year and thus carried over to this year along with NLTBE (Not Likely To Be Earned) bonuses that were actually earned last year and thus have to come off of this year's cap figure. This year it also includes a $1.6 million addition courtesy of the Redskins and Cowboys. What I don't know and my question is, does it include the $1.5 million a team can borrow from 2015-2017? Did the Lions do that yet or are they saving it? I can not deduce that from the information provided so I will assume it does not yet include this number. I'm guessing. I could be in error. But I have nothing to go on other then that the Lions are likely to wait until they absolutely need it before they do it.
The Adjusted cap figure of $124,766,555.00 is the original team cap figure of $120.6 million plus the carryover plus the adjustments. I had the Lions at $125 million even counting the borrowing from the future, so this is actually a better figure then I had IF they haven't yet borrowed from the future.
Team cap of $120,246,822.00 is how much cap space the top 51 contracts are taking up. This number is $1.919 million different then what I had. This brings up questions for me as far as what did I miss? It could be one or more roster bonuses or workout bonuses that I didn't have. It could be one or more LTBE bonuses for 2012 that I don't know about. It could be some other kind of bonus not reported. Or, it could be any combination of those things. Since I do not know what I missed I had to throw the number into the "unknown bonus" cell of my chart and count it in. Even though I don't have the missing info I do now at least know exactly what number I am looking for, that's new, I did not know exactly what I was missing before. So while I don't know yet what it pertains to, I do at least know exactly how much I'm looking for.
Cap room of $4,519,733.00. This is how much salary cap space the Lions currently have to work with. It also happens to be just over what is going to be needed to sign their draft picks. They can still sign players to fill up their 80 man roster but it will have to be contracts that fall in or near the bottom of cap usage column since only the top 51 contracts count. One other point on this figure, I assume it's before the Kevin Smith contract is factored in since his numbers are not yet available from NFLPA and I assume that is where the team cap numbers I linked to came from originally. (There I go, assuming again).
Update: When those draft picks sign, they will likely land in the top 51, freeing up cap space when the same number of players who currently count stop counting. This actually means the Lions have a little more to spend on Free Agency then I let on.
The Team cash figure of $117,573,300.00 is a new number teams, or more accurately the NFL, has to keep track of to prove to the NFLPA that the new CBA is being followed as far as the floor of what has to be spent is concerned.
So there you have it. The Detroit Lions have $4,519,733.00 in cap space available which may or may not include Kevin Smith's contract which may or may not matter (if he does or doesn't hit the top 51 contracts) and it may or may not include borrowing the $1.5 million from the future that a team is allowed to do any time before the season starts.
It also means I am on the look out for cap info to explain the $1.919 million I was off, be it roster or workout bonuses, LTBE bonuses, or other bonuses for the top 51 player contracts.