NDIANAPOLIS -- NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said the union is estimating the salary cap for this upcoming season will be "north of $154 million" per team, marking an increase of roughly $12 million per club over last year's figure.
This is the third straight year the per-team cap has increased by more than $10 million.
"We believe that's an indicator the (2011 collective bargaining agreement) is working well," Smith told two reporters during a break in the NFLPA's annual agent meeting at the Scouting Combine. "In addition to the (roughly) $155 million cap, the average team will carry over approximately $6 million, which was a new feature in the new collective bargaining agreement. So the addition of increased cap and carryover is important."
The Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, Chicago Bears, Los Angeles Rams and New York Giants are among the teams with the most projected cap space, with the Jaguars about $75 million under their adjusted cap number, which includes all carryovers from 2015.
The cap got a bump of between $1 million and $2 million per team thanks to a recent decision by special master Stephen Burbank, who ruled in the NFLPA's favor after hearing a grievance filed by the union that alleged the NFL had hid more than $120 million from players over a three-year period.
The union claimed the league had mischaracterized a ticket-revenue exemption. Burbank agreed, thus injecting about $50 million into this coming season's pool of salaries.
"For us, it's not a surprise. That's why we audit them," said Oakland Raiders linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, a member of the NFLPA's executive committee. "There's been a lot of tension over the years and we put in certain procedures to protect ourselves and that's why we found the money. It's not surprising. That's what they do. That's what everybody does naturally. You set up certain things to be able to hide money and do things.
"Luckily, we were able to find it and recoup it."
In a statement to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported Burbank's ruling, the NFL described the situation as a "technical accounting issue under the CBA involving funding of stadium construction and renovation projects."
"It's unfortunate (the league) saw their audit numbers differently than we did, but that's why we audit," said Giants long snapper Zak DeOssie, also a member of the union's executive committee. "We don't take it personally. Business is business. But we like to observe normal, ethical business practices."