"Around the League" is taking a look at each team's salary-cap situation heading into training camp. Next up: The Cleveland Browns.
Adjusted cap number: $130.647 million
Cap room remaining: $17.775 million
Best bargain: Jabaal Sheard. Like the Cincinnati Bengals did with quarterback Andy Dalton, the other Ohio-based team found its biggest bargain in the second round of the 2011 NFL Draft. Selected with the 37th overall pick, Sheard is due $556,375 in base salary with a $1,156,375 cap number in 2012. If he produces anywhere near the level he did during his rookie season, that's a steal.
Football Outsiders' sackSEER statistic, which projects the five-year sack totals for incoming 4-3 defensive ends and 3-4 outsider linebackers, did not bode particularly well for Sheard, projecting the former Pitt standout to collect just 10.6 sacks by Year 5. Sheard is just three sacks away from beating that projection after posting a team-high 8.5 sacks last season. If last season's playing time is any indicator as to how the Browns plan to use Sheard going forward, he'll have ample opportunities to get those next three sacks. According to official documents, Sheard played in over 88 percent of the team's defensive snaps last season.
Potential camp casualty: The Browns have plenty of cap space, so that is not likely to be a motivating factor when shaping their 53-man roster. However, health concerns could be. Veteran tight end Ben Watson is due $2.88 million in currently non-guaranteed base salary in the final year of his contract. He sustained multiple concussions last season and the Browns might deem him too risky to retain.
Contract issue looming in 2013: From a contract standpoint, nothing is pressing for the Cleveland Browns next offseason. Most of their unrestricted free agents in 2013 are either well over 30 (Scott Fujita, Sheldon Brown, Phil Dawson) or need to show something this season to prove they deserve a second deal (Mohamed Massaquoi).
One player who might start to get antsy about his contract is cornerback Joe Haden, who has already changed agents once (he replaced Malik Shareef with Drew Rosenhaus) and, according to a source with knowledge of his rookie contract, is missing out on base salary escalators in both 2013 and 2014, in part because they're tied to team performance.