September 9th, 2015
At midnight tonight, the salary cap accounting rules will shift from the Top 51 rule to the Top 53 rule. This is why you will see the Texans’ available cap space change from ~$8.9 million to ~$3.3 million. You may be wondering why there is a big difference in cap space between the two rules. Under the Top 51 rule the team will account for the Top 51 contracts and any pro-rated money outside of the Top 51 contracts; along with dead money. Under the Top 51 rule the team does not need to account for players on Reserve/Injured or Reserve/Non-Football Illness/Injury. Essentially the team is accounting for the Top 51 contracts and some small additional pro-rated bonus money; hence the large cap space number. When the rules change over to the Top 53 rule everything is accounted for. The team will need to account for all 53 player contracts on the active roster, all players on reserve lists, all 10 practice squad players, injury settlements & grievances, and dead money. The Texans will go from accounting for 51 contracts to 71 contracts.
In the past posts (or if you follow me on twitter) you may have seen me mention that teams routinely set aside $4 – $5 million cap space dollars for Reserve and Practice Squad players during the Top 51 Rule period. The Texans are losing ~$5.3 million in cap space under the new accounting rules. The ~$3.3 million will provide the team enough flexibility to operate throughout the season as they will likely make some in-season roster moves. Any remaining cap space at the end of the regular season will be eligible to be rolled over to the 2016 league year.