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League-wide, there is almost $250 million in salary-cap savings. But fans should not confuse cash with salary-cap dollars. Twenty of the 32 teams have spent above the $116 million threshold when you include bonus money paid to free agents, rookies and veterans that have signed long-term contracts. I'm talking about the "real dollars" paid out this season because all cap figures include millions in pro-rated bonuses.

For example, there are seven teams that still have more than $7 million in cap room but have actually paid out more than $116 million to their players this season. The fact that teams are under the cap doesn't necessarily mean owners have reduced their payrolls and are hording money; they simply have discovered ways of being more efficient in their salary-cap management.

What is interesting is that of the six teams with almost 50 percent of the available room, four are legitimate playoff contenders. Buffalo is unbeaten, Green Bay and Tampa Bay, who play each other today, are both 2-1, and the Saints were picked by many to win the NFC South. The Dolphins, like the Chiefs, are a rebuilding team.

What has been unbelievable, even for the teams, has been the rapid salary-cap increases. For example, in late September of the 2005 season, there was about $100 million of cap room league-wide. This year, that available-room figure has more than doubled because the cap has increased by more than $12 million a team over that same period.

This salary-cap business could really change drastically next season if there are as many head coaching changes as everyone is predicting. There were only four changes last season, and with fewer changes, one executive told me there is less dead money sitting on team's books. When there is upheaval in the front office, it generally leads to more severe roster changes and more wild salary spending by teams.

NFL Week 4

Week 4 action

    Packers at Bucs -- Preview | Notes
    Vikings at Titans -- Preview | Notes
    Cardinals at Jets -- Preview | Notes
    49ers at Saints -- Preview | Notes
    Falcons at Panthers -- Preview | Notes
    Browns at Bengals -- Preview | Notes
    Texans at Jaguars -- Preview | Notes
    Broncos at Chiefs -- Preview | Notes
    Chargers at Raiders -- Preview | Notes
    Bills at Rams -- Preview | Notes
    Redskins at Cowboys -- Preview | Notes
    Eagles at Bears -- Preview | Notes
    Ravens at Steelers -- Preview | Notes


  • Marvez: Bye bye, Millen
  • Schrager: Week 4 Cheat Sheet
  • Hasenmayer: Power rankings
  • WhatIfSports: Week 4 projections


  • Glazer: Lions move on, finally
  • Peete: NFC weekly review


  • Chargers rout Jets on MNF
  • NFL Week 3's best
  • Biggest moments

GAME: Green Bay at Tampa Bay


WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Monte Kiffin and the Bucs' Cover-2 scheme figures to test first-year starter Aaron Rodgers, who has thrown for 796 yards in his first three games without an interception. The key for Rodgers, though, will be if RB Ryan Grant, who wasn't listed on the injury report, can run like he did at the end of last season. The Bucs like to play a tempo game and control the clock, and the key could be RB Earnest Graham's ability to run. The Cowboys gashed the Packers for 217 rushing yards last Sunday night, but the Bucs don't have the deep receiving threats that Dallas does, especially with Joey Galloway sitting again. In fact, QB Brian Griese, who passed 67 times against the Bears, might want to continue that act with CB Tramon Williams starting for Al Harris (spleen) and the Packers also minus SS Atari Bigby. Bucs C Jeff Faine has played at an All-Pro level in his first three games. The Packers are worried about the 85-degree heat. Keep an eye on Packers DE Aaron Kampman because Bucs OT Jeremy Trueblood struggles with very physical, quick pass rushers. Packers WR James Jones won't play, but C Scott Wells is back.

CZAR'S SCOOP: Bucs PK Matt Bryant attended the funeral of his three-month-old son on Saturday, and the team has told him that it is his decision whether to kick Sunday. If he doesn't, which would be understandable, the Bucs will have to release a player in order to bring in a one-game replacement. You would think that the NFL could grant a roster exemption to teams in this kind of situation. The league grants roster exemptions to teams when players sign after lengthy training-camp holdouts. A death in the family should take precedence over a salary holdout. Coach John Gruden has drastically altered his version of the West Coast offense, using multiple-tight-end formations. He actually used five three-tight-end formations against the Bears last Sunday and also uses more motions and shifts than probably any other coach in the league. Bill Walsh was never into that much shifting.

GAME: Arizona at NY Jets


WHAT TO WATCH FOR: Jets QB Brett Favre (ankle) will start, but there are concerns about DT Kris Jenkins and his bad back, and his absence could open up some running lanes for Edgerrin James. The Cardinals, who spent the week in Washington D.C. after losing to the Redskins, plan to attack rookie CB Dwight Lowery, who is starting for an injured Justin Miller. Cardinals QB Kurt Warner would prefer to be throwing more, but Ken Whisenhunt prefers a balanced attack (93 rushes to 87 pass attempts so far), and that shouldn't change. There is no question that Favre doesn't have the deep threats in New York that he had in Green Bay, and he still is struggling for a complete grasp of the offense. The Cardinals took the train up to New Jersey after visiting Walter Reed Army Hospital on Friday. The Cardinals are the first western team that I can remember which spent a week on the East Coast; generally East Coast teams spend the week on the West Coast.

CZAR'S SCOOP: Favre was pretty expansive this week regarding the one summer Warner spent in Packers training camp, a year before he went the Rams. "I don't remember the year. It was a long time ago, but he was just a guy," Favre said. "Obviously, he's a lot different now. The guy has played phenomenal. I've played against him numerous times. I have a lot of respect for him. I didn't know much about him at the time. There are a lot of guys that come and go that just for whatever reason have never panned out. He's one of those guys that when he got the opportunity, he made the most of it. I do remember — I don't know if Kurt remembers — when (Steve) Mariucci was our quarterback coach. He asked him to go in on a particular play. It was camp. He said, 'No, I'm not going in.' He wasn't ready. In fact, when Steve was here a couple weeks ago, we were doing an interview, laughing about that and how far he has come. He's not afraid to go in now."

GAME: San Francisco at New Orleans


WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Saints don't want to get into a shoot-out like they did in Denver, and this could be RB Deuce McAllister's coming-out party. The plan is to get him 10-15 carries and see if he can soften the San Francisco defensive line. It might be tough running the ball with rookie LG Carl Nicks starting for the suspended Jamar Nesbit and Billy Miller starting at tight end. Saints CB Mike McKenzie is supposed to play ahead of Randall Gay while the defense also gets SLB Scott Fujita back. San Francisco RT Barry Sims starts again for Jonas Jennings. Tarrell Brown will also play some nickel with Shawntae Spencer out.

CZAR'S SCOOP: After the Ed Hochuli incident in Denver, Commissioner Roger Goodell wasn't too pleased with the heavy criticism of the officials and sent out a memo to all club personnel to cool their tempers and words. Well, Saints coach Sean Payton was fined $15,000 this week for pointing out that the officials missed an offside call in last week's Denver game that may have cost his team at the end of the game. The 49ers may have two players suffering from staph infections, most notably rookie WR Josh Morgan. The Saints got some good news in that TE Jeremy Shockey should be back by Week 6 or Week 7.

GAME: Atlanta at Carolina


WHAT TO WATCH FOR: This figures to be a running game because the Falcons don't want to expose rookie QB Matt Ryan too much; they'd rather have him in positive situations, especially with Todd Weiner starting for injured LT Sam Baker, who is out. Falcons WR Laurent Robinson is also out. Believe it or not, the road team in this series has won the last five meetings. Carolina again starts RB DeAngelo Williams, but Johnathan Stewart has a better average (4.7 to 3.7) and three touchdowns to none. The Panthers are debating about taking Stewart off kick returns because they realize how much they will need him as a red-zone runner down the stretch. Panthers C Ryan Kalil struggled with the crowd noise in the Metrodome, and it caused problems for Jake Delhomme last week. The Panthers want to get Steve Smith untracked, but their focus will be their running game. Ditto for the Falcons and Michael Turner (366 yards and 5 TDs already).

CZAR'S SCOOP: Atlanta DE John Abraham has taken to calling Turner "The MARTA," after the Atlanta rail system. "That's just a joke going around the locker room that Abe has been spreading," Turner said. "He said the Steelers had the Bus in Jerome Bettis, and so he had to come up with some other sort of transportation for me." Carolina has held San Diego's LaDainian Tomlinson to 97 yards and Minnesota's Adrian Peterson to 77 yards. On the flip side, Falcons LB Keith Brooking is impressed with Carolina rookie Stewart. "Both of their guys can do it all," Brooking said. "They are very good in between the tackles. They break a lot of tackles and they can also bounce the ball and beat you with their speed."

GAME: Minnesota at Tennessee


WHAT TO WATCH FOR: These teams are mirror-images of one another, and this could turn into a field-position game. Both have excellent defensive lines and live by their running games. Minnesota RB Adrian Peterson (hamstring) will start, although Chester Taylor will be there in case Peterson tires. Tennesee is hoping for a big game from RB LenDale White because coach Jeff Fisher doesn't want to overuse rookie Chris Johnson. Fisher wants him around in December, too. The Vikings may have the better deep threat in Bernard Berrian, but Gus Frerotte doesn't plan on taking many chances unless he gets single coverage on the outside. Vikings OT Artis Hicks could have his hands full with Kyle Vanden Bosch, whose 254-pound motor is always going. He is very similar to Minnesota's Jared Allen. Minnesota is also very concerned about Titans DT Albert Haynesworth. Stephen Tullock will start for Titans' LB Ryan Fowler.

CZAR'S SCOOP: This should be the last game that Minnesota LT Bryant McKinnie misses, but there is no guarantee his legal issues are behind him. He has a court date scheduled for Wednesday in Miami, and his lawyer, Larry Kerr, said last week that he hopes to get a trial date set for February or March on McKinnie's criminal case stemming from a brawl outside a Miami nightclub. McKinnie faces four charges for his role in the February incident, including one felony. Kerr has asked the State of Florida to allow McKinnie to enter a pretrial diversion program, which could lead to the charges being dismissed. McKinnie does not have to be present for the hearing Wednesday. Vikings coach Brad Childress used a George Orwell reference last week and CB Antoine Winfield said: "I had no idea who that guy was. That's my first time ever hearing his name." Some of the players believe that owner Zygi Wilf wanted Tarvaris Jackson benched and that Childress was simply following orders.

GAME: Washington at Dallas

TIME: 4:15 ET

WHAT TO WATCH FOR: The Redskins will be making their final trip to Texas Stadium, where they are 9-27. They have struggled to run against the Cowboys' 3-4 defense in recent years, but they need Clinton Portis to have a big game in order to keep the pass rush off Jason Campbell, who is better with the deep ball than the West Coast dink-and-dunk stuff. The Cowboys racked up 453 yards of total offense last Sunday in Green Bay with Terrell Owens catching only two passes. He scored four TDs in a Week 11 game against the Redskins last season. DE Demetric Evans will replace Washington's Jason Taylor, the team's best pass rusher. However, Taylor's absence should improve the run defense a bit, and if the Redskins can contain RBs Marion Barber and Felix Jones and create long passing downs, they might be able to pressure QB Tony Romo into mistakes. Of course, that's a lot of ifs. Romo's 22-7 record is the third-best in league history for any quarterback's first 29 career starts.

CZAR'S SCOOP: Washington QB Jason Campbell isn't surprised by the rapid improvement of Dallas NT Jay Ratliff because the two played together at Auburn. Ratliff was recruited as a tight end before ending up on defense, finally landing at defensive tackle. He's gone from a seventh-round draft pick to a possible future Pro Bowler with dominant play so far in 2008. Ratliff is fifth on the team in tackles (18) with two sacks and eight quarterback pressures. "Jay was always a hard worker when we were at Auburn," Campbell said. "What he's doing right now is not a surprise, because he was one of the leaders on that side of the ball." Taylor had emergency surgery at 3 a.m. last Monday after blood started to clot around a nerve in his calf. The blood created pressure on the nerve, which led to extreme pain. However, Taylor has a chance of playing in a week or two. The Cowboys actually believe their secondary is better in pass coverage without S Roy Williams.

Other games

Denver at Kansas City: The Chiefs have lost 12 straight and return to veteran QB Damon Huard. However, if Huard struggles, Tyler Thigpen will play. Huard should be able to do some damage against Denver's 30th-ranked defense. The Chiefs rank fourth against the pass, but Denver's Jay Cutler has been averaging 304.7 yards passing per game. Broncos RB Selvin Young rushed for a combined 265 yards in two meetings last year.

Houston at Jacksonville: The Texans actually have a winning record (7-5) against the Jaguars, and they need rookie RB Steve Slaton to repeat his 116-yard performance of a week ago. Said WR Andre Johnson: "He's going to be a great player. He'll open up doors for the rest of us." Yes, former Packer Ahman Green was a poor signing. He has a chance of earning $9.8 million over his first two seasons in Houston even after reducing his base salary this season. Matt Schaub has one TD pass vs. five INTs, and fans are screaming for Sage Rosenfels. Jaguars should have WR Jerry Porter, and both of their running backs are healthy.


  • Czar: Countdown to Week 4
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View more videos >>

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 28, 2008

New York Jets News

News » Countdown: Spending spree could be on tap

Countdown: Spending spree could be on tap

Countdown: Spending spree could be on tap
Fans of the Kansas City Chiefs may not like hearing that their team is really No. 1 in the NFL when it comes to available salary-cap room. The rebuilding Chiefs, losers of 12 straight games, were $23.8 million under the league-mandated $116 million salary cap this past week.

Fiscally, the Chiefs are very responsible. Physically, they have been getting the crap beat out of them. Yes, Denny Thum does an excellent job of spending owner Clark Hunt's money. Another reason is that Coach Herm Edwards has demanded a younger roster — the Chiefs tied the Packers this season in that department — and younger players mean you're not paying older, high-priced stars. There really wasn't a superstar quarterback out there — OK, Brett Favre was available, but the Chiefs didn't want to go that route.

Teams with most cap room

Alan Faneca Name: Alan Faneca
Position: G
Age: 31
Experience: 11 years
College: LSU
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