CLEVELAND (92.3 The Fan) – The new regime of the Cleveland Browns inherited a prime situation.
Although former general manager Tom Heckert was fired on Dec. 31, he left behind a young roster and a tremendous amount of financial flexibility for the future.
Salary cap space will not be a problem for the Browns as the new league year approaches.
The Browns have the second most cap space available entering the 2013 fiscal year according to NFL.com at $45.6 million under the projected cap of $121.6 million.
Cincinnati has the most room of any other team in the league. The Bengals find themselves $50.6 million under the cap.
As for the Browns’ other 2 AFC North rivals, they are in a world of hurt.
The Steelers are projected to be $13.8 million over the cap while the Ravens are an estimated $12 million under.
Baltimore has numerous roster decisions and contract situations to resolve including quarterback Joe Flacco, tackle Bryant McKinnie, safety Ed Reed and linebackers Dannell Ellerbe and Paul Kruger to name a few who are eligible for free agency.
The Browns have a few decisions of their own to make.
Kicker Phil Dawson, punter Reggie Hodges, cornerback Sheldon Brown, returner/receiver Josh Cribbs, receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, tight ends Alex Smith and Ben Watson as well as defensive lineman Juqua Parker are all free agents.
Owner Jimmy Haslam cautioned during Super Bowl week that the team would not make any major free agent splashes this offseason, but CEO Joe Banner and vice president of player personnel Michael Lombardi will have the room to do so if they want.
The salary cap will officially be set in early March before the new league year and free agency begins on March 12 at 4 p.m.