With cap down since '09, spending confounds

With cap down since '09, spending confounds
March 14, 2012, 3:56 pm
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The millions are flying. Let the millions fly, I suppose. The owners wouldn't spend it if they didn't have it, wouldn't write the checks if there wasn't more where that came from. As for the players, might as well get it now since -- unlike the rest of us -- their prime earning years are from 23 to 32. But there are two objective questions to ask as we see the huge deals being handed out at the start of 2012 free agency. One, are teams getting better?And two, with the salary cap having gone down since 2009, what made the model change that makes teams think it's smart to allocate such huge sums to individual players? On the first question, I guess we'll have to wait and see. But one thing seems clear and that is that mission statements and long-term plans are out the window and "win now" -- while always a hope -- has now become an edict. And so players who are more luxury items -- like wide receivers -- are having money thrown at them by owners and football men whose foresight doesn't extend past their glasses (ie: Snyder, Daniel). The Patriots and Packers are proof you don't buy excellence, you build to it. The Colts are proof that you can have a roster elite and a roster low class and win if the elites are good enough. But woe unto you if the elites age or get hurt. And the 2011 Eagles are proof that winning the offseason doesn't even ensure a playoff appearance. Taking stock of what we've seen so far in free agency and where money is being allocated it's worth noting that the salary cap went down from 2009 when it was 123 million. It's at 120.6 million now, up from just 120.3 million last year. Now, because there was no cap floor last year, some teams -- like Tampa and the Chiefs who were waaaayyy under the cap -- have a lot of cap space they can burn through. And they are. And since there's no cap floor until 2013, teams like New England can sit this dance out if they so choose. It's likely that teams like Washington who are currently spending crazy on peripheral players are looking at the 2014 TV contracts and realizing that, by that time deals for Pierre Garcon or (to a lesser extent) Adam Carriker, get fat, the cap will have gone up and those players will be relative bargains. And maybe that's smart. As with everything, we'll see.Year Maximum Team Salary2011120.6 million
2010120.3 million
2009 123 million
2008 116 million
2007 109 million
2006 102 million
2005 85.5 million
2004 80.582 million
2003 75.007 million
2002 71.101 million
2001 67.405 million
2000 62.172 million
1999 57.288 million
1998 52.388 million
1997 41.454 million
199640.753 million
1995 37.1 million
1994 34.608 million