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NFL salary cap set; Bengals have considerable cap space

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Don’t let anyone allow you to believe the Bengals don’t have money to spend this offseason.

Kansas City Chiefs v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

The 2017 NFL salary cap has been officially set at $167 million. That’s more than a $12 million jump from last year's cap figure of $155.27 million.

With the rollover money the Bengals have from last season, the team’s total cap space is $173,578,866, according to the NFLPA. The Browns have, by far, the most cap space in the league. Both the Steelers and Ravens have less (though not much less) than the Bengals. Per the NFLPA individual club salary cap report, the Bengals have the 14th most cap space in the league for the 2017 NFL season.

The Bengals currently have $131,772,993 of the cap allocated for 2017 on 56 players, but counting just the Top 51, which is used to determine cap space, the team should expect to have about $43,809,345 of cap space heading into free agency.

Still, Bengals.com’s Geoff Hobson has been putting out information indicating the Bengals only plan to use $15 million this year on their internal free agents. That includes Kevin Zeitler (who we should expect to leave Cincinnati), Andrew Whitworth, Dre Kirkpatrick, Brandon LaFell and Rex Burkhead.

The NFL free agency period kicks off officially on March 9 at 4:00 p.m. ET. But, starting on March 7 at 4:00 p.m. ET NFL teams can begin negotiations with the agents of prospective unrestricted free agents. During the two-day window from March 7-9, prospective unrestricted free agents cannot visit NFL teams or have direct contact with team employees, except those from their current clubs.

The Bengals coaches, scouts and other team officials are currently in Indianapolis at the NFL Combine. But, the team is also surely trying to lock up a few of their impending free agents before free agency begins. Kirkpatrick, Whitworth and Burkhead all figure to be at the top of the Bengals’ prioritization list.

Spotrac projects LaFell will make $6.6 million per year on his next deal, which is a big increase from the $2.5 million the Bengals dished out to him in 2016. Spotrac also sees Zeitler making $11.6 million per year on his next deal, which is part of the reason why the Bengals are expected to move on from the guard the club drafted back in 2012.

Per Spotrac, the Bengals have the 10th most cap space in the league, so don't let anyone let you believe the club doesn’t have money to spend. The Bengals can make moves this offseason, re-sign their best free agents and the club will still have cap space for “emergencies” as it seems to like to maintain.

Sometimes, offseason noise and reports are just rumors used as smokescreens. We’ll see how the Bengals truly chose to spend their money in the coming weeks and months.