NFL sets 2021 salary cap at $182.5 million

The NFL's 2021 salary cap is finally set.

NFL Network's Ian Rapoport and Tom Pelissero reported Wednesday morning that teams are being informed that the salary cap will be officially set at $182.5 million, per sources informed of the situation.

The NFL had previously set the salary cap floor at $180 million. Clubs were expecting the final figure to come somewhere between $180 million and $185 million. It landed directly in the middle.

The expected decrease due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced teams to compete in front of no or limited fans in stadiums throughout the season to accommodate safety protocols, chopped more than $15 million off the previous salary cap, which sat at $198.2 in 2020. The cap was $188.2 million in 2019 and $177.2 million in 2018.

In addition to the salary cap, franchise tag values for the 2021 season were confirmed Wednesday. Ten players were tagged ahead of Tuesday's deadline.

The reduction in cap is likely to lead to many veteran players released ahead of the new league year, which begins on March 17, as clubs must get below that salary cap. The week ahead is expected to be brutal for the middle class of the NFL.

The 2021 cap number snaps a streak of seven consecutive years in which the salary cap rose by $10 million or more.

The reduced 2021 salary cap is expected to be a brief dip. With potential increased fan attendance in 2021 and new broadcast television and streaming deals in the works, the salary cap is expected to return to its upward trajectory in the coming seasons.

Many front offices have held off making transactions until the exact salary cap landed. Now that we have the official figure, expect a busy week ahead.

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