NFL salary cap could be set around $133 million per team

A higher-than-expected NFL salary cap figure could give the Redskins more flexibility to deal with the pending free agent status of linebacker Brian Orakpo (Associated Press)

A higher-than-expected NFL salary cap figure could give the Redskins more flexibility to deal with the pending free agent status of linebacker Brian Orakpo (Associated Press)

The NFL’s salary cap could be set in the range of about $133 million per team for the 2014 season, according to a person familiar with the deliberations.

Such a figure would be significantly higher than originally expected and would provide additional flexibility for the Washington Redskins and other teams to make moves as the deadline to apply the franchise tag to players and the opening of the free agent market approach.

The league and the players’ union are working to set the final salary cap figure and the person familiar with the deliberations said it is “looking in [the] range of $133 [million].” According to that person, the final cap figure should be determined in a “matter of days.”

Last season’s salary cap was $123 million per team and the original projection for this season’s cap was $126.3 million. There have been recent reports that the salary cap would reach $130 million or more for the ’14 season.

The Redskins are expected to be active in free agency with their two-year, $36 million salary cap penalty imposed by the league, with the consent of the union, having expired. The Redskins could have more than $30 million in available salary cap space, and any additional room to maneuver would be helpful to them as they address a long list of needs that includes help on the offensive line, at wide receiver and throughout the defense. The Redskins already have re-signed cornerback DeAngelo Hall to keep him off the free agent market.

The unrestricted free agent market opens March 11. Teams first must decide by next Monday whether to use the franchise player tag.

The Redskins have been negotiating with linebacker Brian Orakpo, who is eligible for unrestricted free agency, and have not said whether they will use the franchise tag on him if they’re unable to complete a deal with him by Monday’s deadline. Using the franchise tag on Orakpo would keep him, in effect, off the free agent market but would cost the Redskins a one-year contract worth about $11 million. Signing Orakpo, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who had a team-leading 10 sacks last season, to a long-term deal would cost the Redskins more money overall, but such a contract probably would be cap-friendly next season in its first year.

Have a Redskins question? E-mail Mike Jones at mike.jones@washpost.com with the subject line “Mailbag question” for him to answer it in The Mailbag on Tuesdays.

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