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The 2024 NFL Salary Rises an Unprecedented $30.6 Million Year over Year, Totaling $255.4 Million

The NFL announced yesterday that the NFL salary cap figure for the 2024 NFL season will be set at $255.4 million. There is additionally $74 million per club for player benefits, which includes benefits for retired players and performance incentives. This increase is the result of the full repayment of all amounts advanced by the clubs and differed by the players during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the increase in media revenue for the 2024 season.


This announcement comes as the league prepares for the NFL Combine, being hosted from Monday, February 26, through March 4, at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Indiana. The NFL Combine is a hotbed for agents, scouts, and team executives representing all 32 clubs. The salary cap number being announced prior to the new league year, which officially begins on March 13, allows teams to plan accordingly.


The nonplaying season is the active season for team executives. Decisions are made such as whether to cut veteran players with remaining years on their contract (commonly referred to as “cap casualties”), whether to apply the franchise tag or to extend a player, and whether there is a younger (and cheaper) player in the draft at a position of need.


The window to use the franchise tag opened earlier this past week and the deadline to use the tag is 4 P.M. ET on March 5. The exclusive franchise tag is the more commonly applied tag and completely binds the player to his team. The exclusive franchise tag for a given player/position is calculated as the average of the top five salaries at the position for the previous year or 120% of the player’s salary from the previous year, whichever is greater. This year's tag number for a wide receiver is set at $21.816 million.


The Cincinnati Bengals placed the franchise tag on WR Tee Higgins just last night while the two sides continue to have conversations regarding an extension. The question remains as to whether the two sides will be able to strike a deal with fellow Bengals WR Jamar Chase’s massive contract extension on the horizon. This increase in salary cap makes a long-term extension more realistic and lessens the burden for the Bengals if the team were unable to come to terms on a long-term extension.


Two additional players who are likely hyperaware of the $30 million salary cap increase are both Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson and QB Kirk Cousins. Justin Jefferson has already stated that he wants to become the highest-paid WR in the league. His deal is likely to be in the range of $35 to $40 million per year. Jefferson is entering his fifth NFL season and in the final year of his rookie contract. He is set to make $19.7 million.


Due to the NFL’s Collective Bargaining Agreement, a player can only be tagged a maximum of three times. Kirk Cousins was tagged twice earlier in his career while playing for Washington. Unfortunately for the Vikings, they will not get the chance to apply the franchise tag on their QB. Cousin’s contract voids after the deadline for applying the franchise tag which means that the Vikings will not have the ability to tag him. Cousins signed a 3-year, $84 million contract with the Vikings in 2018 and a 2-year, $66 million contract with the club in 2020. Both contracts were fully guaranteed. The unprecedented salary cap increase likely means another massive payday for Kirk Cousins, whether it be from the Minnesota Vikings or another club.


Joseph Gravina is a 2L at New York Law School. He holds the position of Co-Alumni Chair of the New York Law School Sports Law Society, is a member of the New York Law School NIL Pro Bono Project, and serves as a regional representative of the Conduct Detrimental Law Student Board. He can be found on Twitter @jgravina10 and LinkedIn as Joseph Gravina.

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