NFL salary caps to have major fantasy impact

The offseason is in full swing and anyone with a keyboard and an inkling of interest in the NFL has seemingly put guys like Matt Forte and Doug Martin on about 40 of the league's 32 teams. I mean seriously, Matt Forte landing spot speculations are competing with #DamnDaniel retweets right now.

But trying to figure out where Forte, or any notable offensive free agent for that matter, will go is about as easy as trying to make a shot on a mini hoop while sitting on a kayak in choppy waters; there's a lot of moving parts.

For any player to connect with a team that team must not only have a need for his position, but also have the necessary salary cap space. Sounds pretty simple in concept but extremely tricky in practice.

I set out to analyze every single team's cap situation in order to give you a realistic look at the chances your favorite team has of signing a marquee offensive free agent. Huge task, and as a result Baby Koh's diaper hasn't been changed since the Reagan Administration. C'est la vie. That's life kid.

We'll start by looking at your top free agent running backs in a very rough-ish order of how I rank them with their age and official status. (UFA = unrestricted free agent, RFA = restricted free agent)

Doug Martin, age 27, UFA
Lamar Miller, age 24, UFA
Matt Forte, age 30, UFA
Alfred Morris, age 27, UFA
Chris Ivory, age 27, UFA
Bilal Powell, age 27, UFA
C.J. Anderson, age 25, RFA
Ronnie Hillman, age 24, UFA
Chris Johnson, age 30, UFA
LeGarrette Blount, age 29, UFA
Arian Foster, age 30, UFA

Other notable FAs:Reggie Bush, age 30, UFA
Joique Bell, age 29, UFA
James Starks, age 29, UFA

In terms of wide receivers, Alshon Jeffery received the franchise tag from the Bears, so he's not going anywhere.

Of the rest, there are not that many sexy names. Marvin Jones is probably the one guy I get the most excited about. If given the opportunity in the right system and with the right quarterback he could pop off 1,200 yards and seven or eight scores. Again, nothing too, too sexy. But here's the list for those of you so inclined.

Marvin Jones, age 25, UFA
Kamar Aiken, age 26, RFA
Mohamed Sanu, age 26, UFA
Travis Benjamin, age 26, UFA
Jermaine Kearse, age 26, UFA
Percy Harvin, age 27, UFA
Marlon Brown, age 24, RFA
James Jones, age 31, UFA

I'll pound out all 32 teams in a second but if you want the Cliff's Notes version (do they still make those? Whatever, if they don't, Google it) here you go:

» Doug Martin will likely be back with Tampa Bay. It's not certain, but I'd be stunned if Martin walks out the door. Matt Forte could be a Bronco or a Packer come next season and it's not a stretch for either team to sign him to a reasonable one- or two-year deal.

» If anyone is going to make a big-time run at a free agent running back it will either be Tennessee or Houston. Both have a healthy amount of cap space and nothing terribly exciting on their respective rosters at running back. I can easily see Lamar Miller ending up in either of those locales.

» The Giants won't sign a free agent back to any kind of significant money. Neither will the Patriots or the Cowboys. Keyboard warriors, stop and breathe. Look at the numbers below, they're not going to do it.

Ok, if you haven't left yet, remember we're talking about the NFL salary cap here and cap math is funnier than Common Core. The numbers will change DRAMATICALLY once players are cut or retire (cough, PeytonManning, cough).

All the data is current as of February 29 and courtesy of the fine folks at and who do a tremendous job of compiling salary information. The figures are estimates. Very, very, very good estimates but estimates nonetheless.

So you'll see the team, their estimated cap figure and I've listed some notable offensive skill-position guys that paint a rough picture of what a team may or may not need on offense.

Finally, we're talking offense obviously, but you can't consider cap figures without at least mentioning defensive players that are also due to eat a bunch of cap space (thus impacting the potential signings of offensive players). So here you go:

Jacksonville Jaguars - $82-83 million

Analysis: The Jags have a huge amount of cap space and only have Andre Branch and possibly Ryan Davis (7.5 sacks in 2014) to worry about re-signing for any kind of significant money. That being said this team needs to shore up their offensive line in a big way and because their core nucleus is so young, I don't expect them to make any splashy free agent signings on offense.

Oakland Raiders - $60-65 million

Analysis: Most of the Raiders' money will be spent shoring up their offensive line and their defense, which was one of the 10 worst in terms of yards and points allowed. Again, as we saw with Jacksonville, teams normally only have this kind of cap space when their offensive core is so young and operating on rookie contracts (read: Derek Carr, Amari Cooper, Latavius Murray).

Chicago Bears - $46 million

Analysis: A big chunk of the Bears' cap was eaten up by franchise tagging Alshon Jeffery for more than $14.5 million. Martellus Bennett enters a contract year as well so it will be interesting to see if the team commits to him long term, or re-signs Zach Miller, who is a free agent. Regardless, the team will have Kevin White opposite Jeffery next season, meaning Jay Cutler will essentially have a trio of power forwards out there catching balls.

At the running back spot, they just let go of Matt Forte for monetary reasons and Jeremy Langford played extremely well when given an extended opportunity. Don't expect any additions here.

Los Angeles Rams - $44-45 million

Analysis: Offensively the team has Gurley... and that's about it. Tavon Austin enters into a contract year, which makes him an interesting fantasy sleeper-ish guy for those of you who buy into that sort of thing.

Key defensive players like Akeem Ayers, T.J. McDonald and Michael Brockers are all entering contract years and I imagine the team will at least explore an Aaron Donald extension (a HUGE one) this year as well instead of sitting back and waiting for next year. Cornerback Trumaine Johnson was given the franchise tag, so he'll be making the move to Los Angeles with the team.

The team needs an upgrade at quarterback but that generally has to come through the draft. They also need an upgrade at wide receiver where Marvin Jones makes a lot of sense, but unless they overpay I can't see him going here with so many other clubs likely to make competitive offers. All in all, don't expect any splashy signings.

New York Giants - $57 million

Analysis: Jennings and Vereen count nearly $8 million against the salary cap next season combined and cutting them would save almost no money. So will New York invest more into this position? Probably not. The Giants will likely look to pour money into the defensive side of the ball, a defense that gave up the MOST yards in the NFL and the third most points in 2015.

Cruz is interesting because he is set to make about $10 million but cutting him would save the club about $6 million in cap space. Normally I would think he'd be cut but the team has a ton of cap space already, so I'm not sure. If they do cut Cruz, Marvin Jones opposite Odell would look incredible.

San Francisco 49ers - $62 million

Analysis: This team has needs. LOTS of them. It just happens to be that running back isn't one of them. You can expect the Niners to make a big push to get pass catchers, because when Torrey Smith is your No. 1 and your next best receivers are Jerome Simpson/Quinton Patton/Bruce Ellington ... you're in trouble.

The free agent wide receiver group is pretty weak though and quite frankly with all the drama that has surrounded the Niners and their new head coach Chip Kelly, I can't imagine the Bay seems all that desirable a free agent destination.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers - $53-57 million

Analysis: It's fun to talk about Doug Martin in a [fill in the blank] jersey but given the team's cap flexibility, his age, his production and the roster, I would be extremely surprised if the Douggernaut isn't back in Tampa.

Cutting Vincent Jackson makes a TON of financial sense, possibly saving the team around $10 million in cap space, but I think the team will roll with V-Jax for one more year and see what's out there on the free agent market next year or address the position in the draft.

Tennessee Titans - $47-49 million

Analysis: It's an unbelievably underwhelming group of runners they have in the Music City. Sankey looks like a massive flop, David Cobb was battling injuries and his weight last year en route to a team low 2.8 yards per carry. Yet they make less than $2 million combined, meaning if the team wants to get crazy in pursuing a nice young running back to help take some pressure off of Marcus Mariota, they most certainly can.

Lamar Miller who is just 24 years old and hasn't had a lot of work in South Beach makes way too much sense here and I would expect the team to pursue him aggressively.

Cleveland Browns - $40-50 million

Analysis: NFL Media's Rand Getlin reported that contract negotiations with Travis Benjamin have hit a wall and that Benjamin and his 966 receiving yards will hit the open market. Dwayne Bowe and his outrageous $8 million contract for 2016 are all but gone. Brian Hartline, aka "The Hartline Bling," was signed to a much more reasonable contract but his time could be up as well since cutting him could save the team about $3 million in cap space. Josh Gordon could be reinstated but his effectiveness will be in serious question after missing an entire season of football.

The Browns rewarded NFL Fantasy LIVE darling Gary Barnidge with an extension, but the bottom line is that this team desperately needs pass catchers in an offseason where there aren't too many big-time difference makers.

Again, Marvin Jones makes a LOT of sense here. He's familiar with Hue Jackson's system and if the team nabs a nice, young QB in the draft as they are expected to, an offense featuring Jared Goff/Carson Wentz, Josh Gordon, Marvin Jones, Gary Barnidge and Duke Johnson is at the very least extremely intriguing.

Cincinnati Bengals - $39 million

Analysis: We've talked about Marvin Jones but Mohamed Sanu, 26, is also a free agent this year. Cincy will undoubtedly make a push to bring Jones back and will for sure be one of the front runners to sign his services. And the team signing a free-agent back is about as likely as Kimbo Slice and/or Dada 5000 running a marathon.

Detroit Lions - $25-$34 million

Analysis:Calvin Johnson appears set to walk away from the game and obviously you don't just go and replace that kind of talent. The wide receiver pools in both free agency and in the draft are not the greatest, so it'll be interesting to see what Detroit does to try and mitigate the Megatron loss.

Will they overpay to bring in a Travis Benjamin or Marvin Jones? Or will the team possibly draft a guy like Laquon Treadwell who will almost assuredly be there at No. 16 when the Lions draft? Either way, the team will do something to address wide receiver.

The Lions cut ties with Joique Bell which means Abdullah and The Chronicles of Theo Riddick should form a clear cut 1-2 punch.

Kansas City Chiefs - $18 million

Analysis: Given Alex Smith's skill set, Mohamed Sanu actually makes a lot of sense here if they wanted to go with a free agent wideout. A bigger, possession type receiver would be good opposite Maclin. But it's MUCH more likely that the team stands pat with what they have at the skill positions and hope Jamaal Charles stays healthy.

San Diego Chargers - $35-$36 million

Analysis:Keenan Allen enters the final year of his rookie deal and the team will look to extend him. Both Antonio Gates and Ladarius Green are free agents and while it probably makes more sense to sign Green and let Gates walk ... how do you do that if you're the Chargers??? Then again this is the same team that released LaDainian Tomlinson, so ...

If the team wanted Marvin Jones, they could make a serious run at him. Jones is from Los Angeles, would have a clear cut role with the team as a 1B receiver, a good quarterback in Philip Rivers and he and Keenan Allen have a good relationship going back to their Cal days.

Houston Texans - $41-$43 million

Analysis: Maybe even more than the Titans, the Texans are the strongest candidate to throw some serious cash at running backs. The team has cap space and could/should make a serious run at Lamar Miller or Alfred Morris. Should Denver make a surprising run at Matt Forte for one last championship push, C.J. Anderson would be suddenly available and a very interesting upside player for the Texans at a reasonable cost.

Atlanta Falcons - $24-27 million

Analysis: You want to talk about bargains? Freeman and Coleman will cost the team about $1.5M COMBINED. Given Freeman's success and Coleman's lofty draft expectations, this team is set at running back. But the same is not true at wide receiver, where Julio Jones was basically asked to be a one-man wrecking crew.

Travis Benjamin makes a lot of sense here, giving the Falcons a downfield threat that can alleviate pressure off of Jones and the run game. That being said, his asking price may be too much considering contract talks were broken off between his camp and the Browns.

Philadelphia Eagles - $16 million

Analysis: A lot of casual fans may believe that Murray could/should be cut, but the way his deal was structured makes absolutely no sense from a cap perspective for the team to part ways. Spotrac has Murray's dead money at $13 million, meaning even if the team were to cut Murray and save $7 million in real salary, it would offer no relief in terms of the cap. As a result, Darren Sproles and his $3.5 million base salary could be the casualty here. Either way, the team is most certainly not in the market for another running back and probably won't pursue wide receiver free agents either given the makeup of youthful talent they need to evaluate in Philly.

Indianapolis Colts - $24-29 million

Analysis: Gore is a machine, there's no doubt about it. Even at age 31, he was able to tote the rock 260 times (tied for the fourth-most carries in his career) for nearly 1,000 yards. That being said, he's 32 years old now and for the first time in his career had a YPC average of less than 4.0, managing just 3.7 yards per carry in 2015. The team absolutely needs to get younger here and they may do just that in the draft. But a sneaky free agent move could be to pursue Arian Foster and see if a tandem of Foster and Gore could make both more effective in 2016.

At worst, the Colts would be looking at getting an extremely motivated Foster for two key divisional games against the Texans next year. At best, Foster, with less wear and tear on his body, regains form and helps stabilize a position the team has been trying to patch together for years now.

The team gave Hilton a long-term commitment and they clearly like what Moncrief and Dorsett bring to the table. Andre Johnson was a big time swing and miss and he has already been cut.

Minnesota Vikings - $23-26 million

Analysis:Mike Wallace could be a surprise cut given his enormous $11.5 million salary. There's no dead money at this point in his contract, either, increasing the chances of the team cutting him. What that means is that the Vikings could be a sneaky player this offseason with their cap space pushing $40 million.

Harrison Smith is entering a contract year and considering the level he's been playing at, don't be surprised to see an extension coming his way soon. Other than that the team doesn't have much in-house spending to do so expect them to be active in pursuing free agents everywhere except at the running back position.

Seattle Seahawks - $20 million

Analysis: Baldwin enters a contract year and given how he rampaged secondaries in the back half of 2015, it would make sense for the team to try and work out an extension this year. Jermaine Kearse is a free agent, but it's possible the team moves on so they can add some depth behind Rawls and of course re-sign their defensive veterans.

I would be shocked if Jimmy Graham is back with the team next year given his cap charge, injury and the fact that it was a clear cut square-peg-round-hole problem in Seattle last year. He wasn't a good fit and the offense saw a huge boost once Graham was gone. Cutting Graham would save the 'Hawks $9 million in 2016 with no dead money. Money they desperately need to retain their defensive stars.

From a free agent perspective, the team may make some minor moves offensively but I think they are comfortable with Rawls as a lead dog and with Baldwin and Lockett as their primary weapons at receiver.

New York Jets - $7 million

Analysis: Both Chris Ivory and Bilal Powell are unrestricted free agents this offseason and neither was deemed worthy of franchise-tag money. The Jets have a good coach in Todd Bowles, an offense with two plus-receivers and a scary-good defense. That's the kind of climate where running backs thrive. Who will be back there is anyone's guess, though.

The team franchised Muhammad Wilkerson and could also spend money bringing back Ryan Fitzpatrick. That won't leave a ton of room to make a run at any free agent running backs, but LeGarrette Blount actually makes a LOT of sense here. A rugged runner who can help salt away leads and obviously has experience playing in the division, Blount just turned 29 this past December and won't command a large contract.

Green Bay Packers - $20-22 million

Analysis: All I want you to do is picture me chanting "Forte, Forte, Forte" to Drake and Future's "Jumpman." Forte's likely too classy to say it but you know he'd be stoked to get back at the Bears by chasing a ring with a divisional foe. Lacy enters a contract year but the way he has battled staying in shape (not withstanding round being a shape) the organization will undoubtedly have concerns committing long-term dollars to the Gouda Buddha, as some have um ... affectionately called him in Green Bay.

The Pack don't have a ton of cap space but they also don't have huge needs and have nearly all of their key pieces in place and under contract for 2016. They can legitimately make a run at Forte, offer him a chunky two-year deal and not hurt their cap figure at all moving forward.

This offense with Matt Forte? Jumpman, Jumpman, Jumpman, them boys up to something, WHOOOOOO. Sorry that was bad, I know.

Carolina Panthers - $28-$29 million

Analysis: The Super Bowl runners-up will have some cash to throw around even after Josh Norman is tagged, but given their "depth" (read: financial committments) at the offensive skill positions I don't see the team making any major roster upgrades on offense. Surprisingly, the Panthers were statistically one of the better units in the league, sixth in both total yards and points.

Once Kelvin Benjamin comes back, he'll add some stability to the wide receiving corp, and the team still has self-admitted poor sport/football superstar Cam Newton back there wreaking havoc on defenses.

Arizona Cardinals - $16 million

Analysis:Andre Ellington enters a contract year but it may not matter if size/speed freak David Johnson continues to improve and builds upon a fantastic rookie campaign.

Michael Floyd enters a contract year as well, and I know we've been saying this for years now ... but really you guys, he appears to be the heir apparent to Fitz. And even if Larry takes a step back, the team is set at the position because they have approximately 83 good, small, fast receivers not named John Brown who all wear numbers in the 10s. Plus the Cards need to extend Tyrann Mathieu, meaning they ain't making moves on offense this offseason.

Washington Redskins - $21 million**

Analysis:Alfred Morris is a free agent meaning Matt Jones and Chris Thompson are going to form a solid 1-2 punch in the backfield. Cutting Pierre Garcon would save the team $8 million in cap space making him a strong cut candidate.

The team obviously needs to clear the decks after tagging Kirk Cousins and address the defensive side of the ball that was largely ineffective, giving up the fifth-most yards. The team already released Jason Hatcher, Dashon Golson, Robert Griffin III and Jeron Johnson, freeing up some much needed cap space.

Denver Broncos - $9-11 million

Analysis: The trickle-down effect of Peyton Manning's retirement on Brock Osweiler is obvious, but the impact could be felt truly in the running game with C.J. Anderson a restricted free agent and Ronnie Hillman an unrestricted free agent. With Manning gone, it frees up cap space that was eaten up after franchise tagging Von Miller. The team is geared to win now, with or without Peyton, which makes re-signing Osweiler (or acquiring a different, capable quarterback) a priority. If Matt Forte is serious about winning above all, could be a sneaky play here for the Broncos, especially since the team appears willing to risk losing Anderson after offering him a low tender.

New England Patriots - $10-15 million

Analysis: Like everyone else, I think it's fun to say, "Wouldn't it be interesting to see insert high profile RB/WR] in a Pats uni???" But guys ... it's not going to happen. [Chandler Jones, Jabaal Sheard and Dont'a Hightower are all entering contract years and I think the team is comfortable with what they have on the offensive side of the ball. Gronk is Gronk-ing, the combo of Julian Edelman/Danny Amendola is good enough and the team liked what they saw in Dion Lewis so much they signed him to a multi-year deal in the middle of the season.

LeGarrette Blount is a free agent but I actually wouldn't be shocked to see him back in New England. The position has been devalued by teams across the league, the draft will provide at least three or four studs at the position and Blount made less than $1 million last season. If the team can get him back for another one-year, low-cost deal, why not?

Pittsburgh Steelers - $8-11 million

Needless to say, but AFC's best offense (based on total yards) doesn't need to do much except keep everyone healthy. Lev Bell, Ben Roethlisberger and Martavis Bryant all missed time due to injury and then we saw DeAngelo Williams and Antonio Brown get bit by the injury monster in the postseason as well. Given their cap situation and their woeful secondary play last year (they were statistically the AFC's worst pass defense) don't look for this team to add any pieces on the offensive side of the ball.

Dallas Cowboys - $11-12 million

Analysis: There's obviously not a lot of wiggle room but the offensive line has proven to be so good that it's impossible not to think about the 'Boys signing Matt Forte, Doug Martin or Lamar Miller. And quite frankly any one of those three in a Dallas uniform would push their fantasy stock into the early second round or even into the first if we see something electric in the preseason. But again ... it's not going to happen.

Darren McFadden was more than just serviceable; he racked up more than 1,400 total yards and boasted an extremely efficient 4.6 yards per carry average. The team's limited cap space will likely be spent on defense where they have some very hard decisions to make regarding their own free agents like Greg Hardy and Rolando McClain. Running back will almost assuredly be a position fortified through the draft. If Derrick Henry is still there near the top of Round 2, Jerry Jones being the SEC guy that he is will take a long look at the mountainous Alabama back.

Miami Dolphins - $20-27 million

Analysis: The Dolphins have quickly fixed what was a dire cap situation by cutting Quinton Coples, Greg Jennings and Brice McCain in recent weeks, but they're not out of the woods yet.

Regardless of what their cap number is once all the details are worked out, the big question, from both a real-life and fantasy perspective is whether Lamar Miller will be back in South Beach next year. He's just 24 years old and sports a 4.6 YPC average over his four-year career, but for whatever reason the team never gave him a very large work load. He's only had more than 200 carries once and as a result has only had one season where he's run for more than 1,000 yards, with both benchmarks coming in 2014.

If the team lets Miller go because of cost, obviously it would be extremely unlikely they add any high-priced offensive guys. The team has a nice young nucleus of pass catchers anyways, so look for them to stand pat and hope Parker develops (SLEEPER ALERT!!!).

Buffalo Bills - $10 million

Analysis: The Bills cap is a mess and the team has so many of their own players that are due extensions. which is part of the reason that Mario Williams was released. Regardless, don't look for this team to be active signing free agents this year.

New Orleans Saints - $10 million

Analysis: Don't look for the Saints to be major players in the offseason, at least on offense. The team cut Marques Colston to free up some space but the disastrous C.J. Spiller signing will limit what they can do.

Baltimore Ravens - $9-11 million

Analysis:Kamar Aiken, a restricted free agent, played pretty well last year given the team's horrendous slew of injuries. But will he be back given the team's cap situation? The Ravens will most likely address the wide receiver position in the draft and hope Perriman stays healthy and develops.

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James Koh is the host of NFL Fantasy LIVE and a proud Cal Bear. Follow him on Twitter @JamesDKoh.

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