NFL salary cap hits $A266 million per club
THE NFL's salary cap will increase $11 million ($A15.5 million) next season to $188.2 million ($A265.9 million) per club.
In the ninth year of the 10-year labour agreement, the cap moves up from $177.2 million ($A250.3 million).
It has increased in every year of the contract, with the biggest move in 2015 to 2016, when it swelled by just under $12 million ($A17 million).
This is the third year out of four in which clubs must reach 89 per cent in cash spending. The NFL Players Association said on Friday (local time) that four teams were under that threshold: Dallas, Buffalo, Indianapolis and Houston.
League expenditures for benefits are $40.5 million ($A57.2 million) per team.
Add that to the salary cap number and each club's player costs are in excess of $228 million ($A322.1 million).
Benefits includes pension payments to former players, health care, injury protection and severance, veteran performance-based pay, and a separate pool of performance-based pay that's essentially a cash bonus to players who outperform their contracts.
With the NFL's revenues at more than $14 billion ($A19.8 billion) and every team worth at least $1.6 billion (Buffalo), with a high of about $5 billion (Dallas), it's hardly a surprise how high the cap has gone.
In the first year of the current CBA, reached after a lockout of the players from March-July 2011, the cap was $120 million ($A170 million).
It has increased by at least $10 million ($A14.1 million) every year since 2014.
There should be plenty of money available to free agents when the league's business year begins March 13.
On average, teams have about $35 million ($A49.4 million) in space after making off-season moves, with more certain to come.
Two clubs, Philadelphia and Jacksonville, still must make moves to get under the cap.