There are two important things to note:
1. The Colts have the second highest number in the AFC. Currently Indy is just below last year’s number, but still has to sign the RFAs and the draft class. The result should be a modest payroll increase for the defending AFC Champs. The only team higher? The Raiders (go figure). The Colts are tied for the 8th highest number overall, which should tell you how much money is being spent in the NFC (which is rife with the biggest markets in the NFL). The real consequence of a capless NFL could be that the balance of power swings to the NFC. The AFC has big markets like New York, Boston, and Houston, but on the whole is populated by a slew of small town clubs. Buffalo, Cleveland, Cincinnati, Jacksonville, Nashville, Indianapolis, and Kansas City are among the smallest markets in pro sports.
2. Lots of teams aren’t spending money at all. PFT also gives the 8 teams that are on track to spend well below the salary floor. No surprise that the Jags are on that list. The Colts have four games against the bottom feeders next year and three against the big spenders. Of course of those three games only the Cowboys should be good (unless Oakland and Washington suddenly turn it around).
The free agent season still has to shake itself out, but the long term ramifications of a capless league are staggering. One argument I don’t want to hear is how the NFL will become like baseball in terms of pariety. The NFL already wishes it was like baseball in terms of parity.
22 23 of 30 MLB teams have made the playoffs (77%). 21 teams have made the LCS (70%). 14 have made the World Series (47%). 8 won titles (26%).
Since 2000, 28 of 32 NFL teams have made the playoffs (88%), but only 21 of 32 made a conference championship (66%). Only 13 have made the Super Bowl (41%). Only 7 won titles (22%).
The only reason the NFL has a high percentage of teams that have made the playoffs over this span is because they allow a higher percentage of teams to qualify. 37.5% of the league makes the NFL playoffs compared with just 26.7% of MLB teams. Even with the salary cap, the NFL has less parity and competition than baseball.