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One day ahead of its franchise tag deadline, the NFL officially released its 2022 salary cap information. Per a league memo sent to the 32 teams, the cap will be set at $208.2 million for the upcoming season — a number that has been in circulation for quite some time now.

It represents a sizable increase compared to last year. The cap had been growing steadily over the last decade, going from $120 million in 2011 to $198.2 million by 2020. However, the Coronavirus pandemic and its economic impact forced the league to reduce the cap for the 2021 season: it was set at only $182.5 million.

With the NFL’s revenue bouncing back, so has the salary cap. The current figure is the highest in league history, and a reflection of its financial health even after Covid-19.

Teams have to be below the cap as soon as the new league year starts at 4 p.m. ET. on March 16.

As far as the New England Patriots are concerned, they are only $9.54 million below the cap threshold at the moment even after releasing linebacker Kyle Van Noy on Monday. That number is currently the 18th highest in the NFL, and one that will almost certainly see some further changes between now and next week.

The Patriots, after all, have 15 players headed for unrestricted free agency; three more are set to enter restricted free agency. In order to return at least some of them, the team needs to create additional cap space over the coming days.

Among New England’s free agents is Pro Bowl cornerback J.C. Jackson. Seen as a candidate to receive the franchise tag, Jackson is not expected to get tagged by the club.

If the Patriots do decide to use it, however, it would be a significant investment. As can be seen, the cornerback tag has been set at $17.29 million:

2022 NFL franchise tag numbers

Position Non-exclusive franchise tag Transition tag
Position Non-exclusive franchise tag Transition tag
Quarterback $29.703 million $27.186 million
Linebacker $18.702 million $15.783 million
Wide receiver $18.419 million $16.782 million
Defensive end $17.859 million $16.012 million
Defensive tackle $17.396 million $14.716 million
Cornerback $17.287 million $15.167 million
Offensive line $16.662 million $15.348 million
Safety $12.911 million $10.817 million
Tight end $10.931 million $9.392 million
Running back $9.570 million $8.034 million
Kicker/Punter $5.220 million $4.701 million

There are ways to fit either the franchise or the transition number in before the Tuesday deadline — a few additional cuts as well as some contract extensions or salary-to-signing-bonus conversions would to the trick. Nonetheless, the belief is that New England will let its number one cornerback hit the open market.