Teams are flush with cap space this year. Even a team like New Orleans, which has been doing its best to ensure it never has cap space to play with, is sitting on around $10 million this year. Nearly 20 teams have over $20 million in cap space, which tells you that free agency is gonna get real wild.
Even in that landscape, where a team like the 49ers has $56 million to re-tool the team to Chip Kelly's liking and the Falcons are sitting on $30 million to address this needs, there are two teams that can absolutely blow everyone else out of the water. Those teams are the Raiders, who have about $74 million in space, and the Jaguars, who have north of $80-damn-million to spend this offseason.
Good for them, but potentially bad for every other team in the NFL. The simple reality is that if money is the most important factor for a given free agent—and for many, it quite naturally is—and the Jaguars or Raiders want that player badly enough, they can simply outbid any other team in the NFL. For practical reasons they're not going to do that all that often, but that's hanging over every major negotiation over the next month.
Take Bruce Irvin. Irvin in the average year would probably earn $6-8 million in annual averages, and based on production alone he might be toward the lower end of that estimate. This year, though, his agent (presumably) can leak that he's looking for $9.5 million and quite reasonably expect he's going to get it. Even if the Falcons pony up a $9 million per year offer for a player they may covet, the Jaguars can simply go up to $10 million and get the damn thing done. Why wouldn't they? They'll still have $70-plus million in cap space to play around with.
For the Falcons, this means making a strong case for Dan Quinn's vision and culture, and (unfortunately) being willing to sweeten their offers more than they'd normally be comfortable with. It also means praying that the player you really want isn't on Oakland or Jacksonville's radar, because the ending will be green and sad.