Mike Garafolo: ‘The Hope Is That The NFL Salary Cap Will Continue To Rise’

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(Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

(Credit: Slaven Vlasic/Getty Images)

One week from today – Tuesday, March 4 – NFL free agents can start signing on the dotted line. But we should begin hearing pretty loud whispers of what’s to come as early as this weekend.

“Last year, some stuff started to trickle out – and a lot of it was pretty accurate,” FOX Sports 1 NFL insider Mike Garafolo told John Kincade, who was filling in as host of The John Feinstein Show. “I thought there was going to be a lot of smoke screens flying around those couple days, (but that wasn’t the case). You found out who was chasing who, and it was pretty much true to form. As soon as the gates opened, we had a couple right off the bat – and I expect that to be the case this year.”

That said, there is a lot of misinformation circulating this time of year – mainly from agents, and most commonly about price tags and the number of teams that have expressed interest in a particular player.

Still, the $133-million salary cap is expected to rise – by as much as $10 million in each of the next two years, which would give teams more wiggle room when pursuing players. Is it possible some teams could take that into account this offseason?

“Nobody really knows,” Garafolo said. “You can project that, but you don’t know. It depends on revenues, it depends on where you’re taking the money from, how much you’re borrowing (and) how much you’re doing on the union side to help create this kind of salary cap. You really don’t know.

“But the expectation and the hope is that the salary cap will continue to rise,” Garafolo continued. “I think teams are proceeding cautiously, but I think spending is going to come back to the NFL like it was before the CBA and much more so than it was last year.”

Garafolo was asked what he would do if he were the general manager of a 10-6 team that was a couple of players away from making a Super Bowl run. Would he look to free agency to solidify his team – much like the Seahawks did last year – or would he continue to rely on the draft?

“Seattle is the one instance where these free agents did come in, they did feel needs,” Garafolo said. “But it was on top of a foundation that had been built through the draft, so I am going to continue that if I’m a GM.”

But every situation is different. If you’re the Arizona Cardinals – who went 10-6 and missed the playoffs last year – and you have an aging quarterback (Carson Palmer) and aging wide receiver (Larry Fitzgerald), you need to have a sense or urgency.

“If I’m the Cardinals and you’re making me the GM and I’m picking the team,” Garafolo said, “I’m going aggressively into free agency. I’m trying to get pass-rushers, I’m trying to get more pass-catchers – I’m trying to add at the positions that matter. I think they may wind up being aggressive, and I expect them to be in the running for a few offensive tackles as well.”

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