Who has most money for free agents?

Looks like Bengals fans have a right to be mad at the club's thrifty ownership, unless the club...

Looks like Bengals fans have a right to be mad at the club's thrifty ownership, unless the club plans to go nuts this week in free agency. (Sarah Conard/Reuters/Files)

JOHN KRYK, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:31 PM ET

So, which NFL teams have the most money to spend on free agents this year?

The salary-cap gap provides a pretty good idea, even though you can't ever presume a club can, or will, spend all of its shortfall on free agents this year. Some teams might want to bankroll their shortfalls for next year. Some might have other ideas in mind.

And, yeah, some just have downright cheap owners.

The Cincinnati Bengals, as of Friday, were a mind-boggling $49.9 million under the NFL team salary cap of $120.6 million, according to ProFootballTalk.com. Looks like Bengals fans have a right to be mad at the club's thrifty ownership, unless the club plans to go nuts this week in free agency.

By contrast, six teams were still scrambling Monday to get under the cap limit by Tuesday's 4 p.m. EDT deadline: the Giants, Texans, Panthers, Raiders, Lions and Cardinals. Arizona had the longest way to go, with $16.4 million (as of Friday) yet to trim.

All six will get there because, well, they have to.

The salary-cap scramble explains all the contract re-negotiations and reworkings by these clubs, and those that recently just got under the cap -- such as Pittsburgh.

On Monday, the Lions convinced quarterback Matthew Stafford, wide receiver Nate Burleson and defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh to rework their deals. They'll all still get the same 2012 money. But instead of it coming in a large salary that goes 100% against the cap, they'll get a much smaller salary with a large bonus, which can be divvied up over future years against the cap -- thus reducing this year's hit.

ProFootballTalk.com's experts pored over contracts of all 32 teams' players and determined these salary-cap gaps, in order of best to worst, as of Friday:

Cincinnati: --$49.9 million

Denver: --$44.7 million

Tampa Bay: --$42.7 million

Jacksonville: --$40.6 million

Kansas City: --$32.5 million

Washington: --$31.1 million

Buffalo: --$30.8 million

Seattle: --$29.8 million

Tennessee: --$28.1 million

Chicago: --$22.6 million

San Francisco: --$21.8 million

Cleveland: --$17.4 million

New England: --$16.2 million

San Diego: --$14.9 million

Baltimore: --$14.45 million

Miami: --$11.8 million

Indianapolis: --$11.6 million

Pittsburgh: --$10.5 million

Philadelphia: --$9.6 million

Minnesota: --$7.9 million

NY Jets: --$7.1 million

Atlanta: --$5.8 million

Green Bay: --$5.4 million

New Orleans: --$5.2 million

Dallas: --$4.7 million

St. Louis: --$1.2 million

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

NY Giants: +$3.8 million

Houston: +$4.7 million

Carolina: +$5.3 million

Oakland: +$7.4 million

Detroit: +$11.5 million

Arizona: +$16.4 million


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