EAGAN, Minn. — The salary cap for the 2021 NFL season has been set at $182.5 million.
The figure was reported Wednesday morning by multiple media outlets, including Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
The NFL's salary cap has routinely increased over the years. For reference, the salary cap was a hair under $35 million in 1994, the first year it existed. By 2020, the cap had ballooned all the way up to $198.2 million per team.
The 2021 figure means a drop of nearly $16 million from the previous season.
The news means the Vikings now know what figure they can work with as they look to upgrade their roster in the coming weeks.
The new league year (and free agency) officially starts at 3 p.m. on March 17. The 2021 NFL Draft will be held from April 29 to May 1.
Vikings General Manager Rick Spielman told Twin Cities media members last week that the team will look to creatively navigate a unique situation this offseason.
"We've still got a lot of work to do and we're still in the process, but I think I have a pretty good sense right now — before free agency kicks off in [one week] — where the strengths of the draft are, where the strengths are in free agency … and how we're going to roadmap and fill as many needs as we possibly can," Spielman said. "This year is going to be a little more unique from a challenge standpoint with where the salary cap is.
"A lot of the deals we had done and put in place were pre-COVID and pre-pandemic," Spielman added. "As we've always talked about, we've been planning out what the cap would be in 2020, but in 2021 and 2022 as we move forward. I don't think anyone predicted the situation where we even thought about the cap going the opposite way."
Spielman said the reduced salary cap in 2021 could affect veteran players who are unrestricted free agents. They might have to take shorter or cheaper deals with the hopes the salary cap bounces back next season.
"As we're watching this UFA process, it's going to be an interesting dynamic with players getting cut as well," Spielman said last week. "There's already been some significant players cut, and I think there's going to be a very active market this year."