NEW YORK (AP) — The salary cap has been set, and it’s time for the NFL’s shopping spree to begin.
When the NFL’s free agency period opens today, teams will start spending money — some wildly — on players. Some clubs will be bigger spenders because they have more money available, and some have to spend more because the NFL requires teams to use most of the cap.
The salary cap has been set at $143.28 million for the 2015 regular season. According to the 2011 labor agreement, the NFL and individual clubs must guarantee a minimum level of cash spending during two four-year cycles: 2013-16, and 2017-20.
The league guarantees that 95 percent of the cumulative salary caps will be spent, and each club guarantees 89 percent of the cumulative salary caps for those four years will be spent.
In addition, several teams are carrying over plenty of money they did not spend in 2014, giving them higher adjusted salary cap numbers.
The highest such total is Jacksonville at $168.4 million; the Jaguars are carrying over $21.7 million in unspent money. The Cleveland Browns have more than $18 million in carryover money, the Philadelphia Eagles have more than $15 million, and the New York Jets have more than $12 million.
Here are the teams with the most and least amount of cap space going into free agency, according to the website overthecap.com.
MOST CAP SPACE
Jacksonville Jaguars: Estimated $68 million. Coming off a 3-13 season, the Jaguars have plenty of needs to fill except at quarterback, after drafting Blake Bortles in the first round last year.
Oakland Raiders: Estimated $64 million. Another 3-13 team. New coach Jack Del Rio does have promising quarterback Derek Carr and linebacker Khalil Mack. The Raiders finished the 2014 season last in the league in total offense and rushing. They were 31st in scoring at 15.8 points a game. Running back Maurice Jones-Drew announced his retirement Thursday and defensive end LaMarr Woodley was released, giving Oakland even more room to spend.
New York Jets: Estimated $53 million. With several holes to fill, new general manager Mike Maccagnan will have lots of opportunity to improve the Jets, who have a new coach in Todd Bowles. The Jets were criticized for not spending enough last season under former GM John Idzik, when they finished 4-12.
Cleveland Browns: Estimated $49 million. Despite taking Johnny Manziel in the first round last year, the Browns’ quarterback situation is still muddled with Manziel in rehab. The Browns have had 22 different starting quarterbacks since 1999.
Tennessee Titans: Estimated $41 million. Tennessee, which tied for the worst record in the league last season at 2-14, has had only one winning season since last making the playoffs in 2008.
Among the 2014 playoff teams, the Indianapolis Colts (estimated $41 million) and the Cincinnati Bengals (estimated $39 million) have the most cap space going into free agency.
LEAST CAP SPACE:
New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs: All three teams have been releasing players to get under the salary cap by Tuesday.
New Orleans Saints: General manager Mickey Loomis has been working to bring the payroll down by more than $20 million. Veteran running back Pierre Thomas was released Wednesday.
New England Patriots: The Super Bowl champions told defensive tackle Vince Wilfork on Thursday the team would not be picking up his option for 2015, making him eligible for free agency. Wilfork was due a $4 million roster bonus by Monday and would have gotten $14 million over the next two seasons if it had been picked up. The money saved could help the Patriots bring back cornerback Darrelle Revis.
Kansas City Chiefs: The Chiefs saved about $3 million by parting with veteran linebacker Joe Mays on Thursday. They have made modest savings by also releasing wide receivers Donnie Avery and A.J. Jenkins and tight end Anthony Fasano. They still could restructure the massive contract of wide receiver Dwayne Bowe after doing so with linebacker Tamba Hali.