For quite a while now, we’ve focused on team needs in the NFL Draft. We’ve heard about safeties and right tackles and inside linebackers for a while now. The hidden factor in the draft is the salary cap–next year’s cap.
Look at the Arizona Cardinals and their top five cap hits from the 2015 season, courtesy of Spotrac.com.
5. Darnell Dockett $9,800,000
4. Patrick Peterson $10,081,000
3. Carson Palmer $12,000,000
2. Calais Campbell $14,750,000
1. Larry Fitzgerald $23,600,000
That’s five guys who total approximately $69 million against the cap next season. That leads the Cardinals to try and quietly address some of these issues at Thursday’s draft. I would expect them to draft a defensive lineman in a later round of the draft. A quarterback is also going to be a later-round (fourth or fifth) selection.
These players, save Peterson, all are on the wrong side of 30 and not getting younger. It’s much easier to find a defensive lineman at rookie pay levels than it is to have both Campbell and Dockett patrolling the defensive line.
A lot can certainly happen between now and when the 2015 cap figures kick in. Wise teams are looking ahead and using this as a factor when they consider who to draft this week.