It’s the day after free agency has begun, and there seems to be a lot of panic when it comes to fans of the Texans. Rumors of as little as $600,000 of remaining cap room, along with the surprising cut of RT Eric Winston and the UFA status of C Chris Myers and G Mike Brisiel, are driving most of the panic. I’ll try to address some of those concerns by explaining why I am not panicking. Salary Cap Room The salary cap for 2012 is currently $122.2M ($120.6M base + $1.6M from the Cowboys/Redskins penalty). If we had not used all of our cap in 2011, we could have carried the unused portion over to this year. There are teams out there that did that, which is one reason why you’ve seen some teams with huge amounts of cap space left over. Of course, those teams weren’t contenders in the playoffs last year. People have been out there saying the Texans only have $600,000 of cap room left. That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense, unless they are assuming we will sign certain guys back and are already counting the rookie minimum salaries for draft choices against the cap. If we only had $600,000 left, we would have a team of just 45 guys and couldn’t sign our rookies. Do you really think the Texans’ management planned that poorly? I don’t. As of last night (March 13th), the Texans likely have somewhere around $15M - $24.5M of cap room remaining. This accounts for Andre’s restructuring, Arian’s new contract, and the cuts to Winston, Leinart and Vickers. It also includes having eight guys on the practice squad at a generous $390,000 each. It does not account for dead money left against the 2012 cap. The reason dead money is not in there is that I could not locate reliable sources for those amounts. The remainder is what we can use to sign our UFAs and our draft picks. How did I come up with that figure? I have been through several sources and cross-referenced most of these contracts against each other for accuracy. I have also been through the entire CBA and verified, to the greatest extent possible, that these calculations include all cap hits and have the correct amortization for cap purposes. That means that the amounts listed should include applicable base salary (A.K.A. paragraph 5) plus signing bonuses, roster bonuses, incentives, etc. For example, I’ve already started looking at 2013, and in that year I had to include a $4M escalator for Cushing. We appear to have 45 players on our active roster, so naturally I’ve included cap hits for all 45 of them. I’ve also set aside cap room for the practice squad because they are considered part of the “team salary” under the CBA. I assigned a worst-case hit of $390,000/year for each of them, which would allow us to sign any or all of them to a minimum contract for an active roster spot if need be during the year (due to injury or waivers from our active roster). When you add all that up, you get $97,624,127 against the salary cap. That leaves $24,575,873 of cap room. Unfortunately, we likely have some dead money out there that we owe against the cap for players no longer with the team. Since I could find no accurate estimates, we are left with the $15M - $24.5M of cap room that I mentioned earlier. So, even with an assumption of $10M of dead money, we’re a far cry from just $600,000. ****updated numbers, Thursday morning 3-15**** Updated numbers. It now looks more like $22M, not $25M, less dead money = maybe $14M to sign UFAs and the rookie contracts.