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NFL salary cap set at $143.28 million and how it impacts the Bengals

The NFL announced that the 2015 salary cap will be set at $143.28 million. We look at how that impacts the Cincinnati Bengals, who are expected to be players in free agency this year.

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Mark Wilson/Getty Images

The NFL has announced that the 2015 salary cap will be set at $143.28 million, Fox SportsUSA Today and the NFL Network first reported. This represents a $10 million increase from 2014 when the hard cap was set at $133 million. The NFL projected $143 million several weeks ago with the NFLPA providing their own analysis that the cap "won't be lower" than $143 million.

The Cincinnati Bengals current cap number for 2015 is $112.184 million (the offseason cap number of the combined top-51 contracts). If we're including the $8.697 million rollover from 2014 into the $143.28 million that the league has set on Monday, the Bengals salary cap is closer to $152.13 million, giving Cincinnati nearly $40 million available against the cap. (NOTE: Numbers grabbed from Spotrac).

Head coach Marvin Lewis hinted that the Bengals could be players in free agency this year, unlike in previous years where they completely relied on their depth and the NFL draft -- two things that haven't offered as much reward recently.

"Oh yeah, (Mike Brown) is the one leading the charge," Lewis said in an exclusive interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer and "He doesn't want to hear, 'We will be better when we get these guys back.' No, we need to get better. He knows we need to get better. He's pushing people to identify players that will make us a better football team in free agency."

"It's a different feel than where we have been," Lewis said. "It's not a status quo. There has not been a status quo conversation or 'Oh, we'll be OK, we'll just get these guys back.' No, no, no, that's bull. We got to be better."

Despite the generic proclamations that sent Bengals fans into the Broadway show of "Giggity", starring Glenn Quigmire, the Bengals are still the Bengals. Whereas people are looking for Ndamukong Suh and Greg Hardy, a more realistic view should be to expect more activity than last year when the team announced just Jason Campbell and Marshall Newhouse nearly a week after free agency began.

In addition to the salary cap being finalized, calculations for the franchise tags can be applied:

QB: $18.544 million
RB: $10.951 million
WR: $12.823 million
TE: $8.347 million
OL: $12.943 million

DE: $14.813 million
DT: $11.193 million
LB: $13.195 million
CB: $13.075 million
S: $9.618 million
K/P: $4.126 million

The Bengals have 16 free agents this year and that doesn't include Mike Pollak, Robert Geathers and wide receiver Greg Little, all of whom were released in February.

Unrestricted Free Agents (13)
TE Jermaine Gresham
LB Rey Maualuga
CB Terence Newman
OG Clint Boling
PK Mike Nugent
WR Dane Sanzenbacher
WR Brandon Tate
S Taylor Mays
QB Jason Campbell
RB Cedric Peerman
OT Marshall newhouse
TE Alex Smith
OT Eric Winston

Restricted Free Agents (2)
DT Devon Still
OLB Emmanuel Lamur

Exclusive Rights Free Agents (1)
CB Chris Lewis-Harris