Cardinals offseason review: Contracts, salary cap, rookie pool

With the 2024 NFL draft less than three weeks away, that is now the laser focus for the Arizona Cardinals and the remainder of the league.

It is reflected in the limited action among veterans after the frenetic first few days of the league year that officially began on March 13 following two-plus days of legal negotiating.

Below are the offseason numbers around the NFL and for the Cardinals

Free agency numbers around the NFL

Prior to 496 players becoming unrestricted free agents on March 13, the first day of the 2024 league year, 41 had re-signed. Then, in the first three days, 57 players officially re-signed and 109 changed teams. In the next three days, it was 28 and 63.

Since then, in the last two weeks, only 22 have re-signed and 33 switched teams. Another nine have agreed to terms, but haven’t been reported to the league.

Overall, through Thursday, 107 UFAs have officially re-signed and 206 found new homes. That’s 63.1 percent of the 496 UFAs. In addition, 15 non-tendered restricted or exclusive-rights free agents have re-signed and 14 signed with new teams. The league year opened with 67 non-tendered players.

There have also been 39 of 99 players released that have signed along with 18 trades.

The Cardinals’ personnel moves

The Cardinals have added 10 players including the acquisition of quarterback Desmond Ridder in a trade from the Falcons, while re-signing 11 players.

Contract numbers

Here are the total contracts of those 21 players:

Players added: $137,378,855 total, $81.035 million fully guaranteed, $10.585 million guaranteed for injury only, $41.65 million signing bonuses (included in the guarantees), $36,902,541 salary-cap charge

Players re-signed: $16.66 million total, $3,483,750 fully guaranteed, $1,433,750 signing bonuses, $13,537,647 salary-cap charge

Combined: $154,038,855 total, $84,518,750 fully guaranteed, $10.585 million guaranteed injury only, $43,083,750 signing bonuses, $50,440,188 salary-cap charge

The average total contract for the added player is $13.7 million, while the average of the resigned players is a mere $1.5 million.

The salary cap

It’s important to note that only the top 51 cap figures count in the offseason, so when a players is signed, that usually pushes someone out of the top 51.

Thus, the $50.4 million in added cap resulted in a net gain of about $30.7 million.  Both overthecap.com and spotrac.com estimate the Cardinals’ current cap space at over $29 million. They will gain close to $16 million of space when tackle D.J. Humphries’s $15.7 million scheduled salary for 2024 is removed on June 2. He currently counts $22.877 million against the cap.

The rookie pool

The Cardinals rookie pool is currently about $19.9 million based on the slots of their 11 draft picks. However, because several of the later picks won’t be in the top 51, they will need about $11.1 million of space for the choices until the start of the season when the 53-man roster counts plus players on injured reserve and the practice squad.

There won’t be much need for a lot of the cap space as the offseason continues, but whatever is unused at the end of the season can be rolled into the cap in 2025.

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