Managing your team's finances is an essential aspect of being a GM in the game. As players age and perform well, their salaries increase, and keeping all your players year after year can lead to financial difficulties. Effective financial management is a valuable skill to maintaining a successful team.
The league salary cap is initially set when the league is created, based on the number of prospects and free agents. The league commissioner can adjust the salary cap if needed.
There are two types of salary caps: Soft Cap and Hard Cap.
- Soft Cap:
- Teams operating under a Soft Cap can exceed the salary cap due to salary increases for their players over time.
- They will be unable to sign free agents if it would take them over the cap, unless they drop a player with a higher salary.
- Additionally, they cannot make trades that increase their salary if they are already over the cap.
- Hard Cap
- If the Hard Cap option is enabled before the postseason begins, the salary cap will be strictly enforced at the season flip.
- Teams cannot exceed the salary cap for any reason, except in certain cases mentioned below.
- Exceptions - in the season when the Hard Cap setting is chosen initially or when the salary cap is lowered in a Hard Cap league, teams that are already over the cap can stay over until the season flip.
*Frequently Asked Hard-Cap Questions:
- Will drafting players take the team over the hard cap?
- No, draftees do not count against the salary cap in the year they are drafted. The draft list displays their cost for their first full year.
- Will autosigns at the end of the season take the team over the hard cap?
- No, minimum salary players (scrubs) cost $0 in the year they are created, and they are automatically signed to fill roster spots if your team is below the minimums.
The league commissioner can enable the Binding Contracts option before the postseason begins.
- With binding contracts, teams can only release players at the season flip.
- Players kept at the flip, as well as those signed from free agency or acquired in trades, will remain with the team for the entire season.
Schedule for Financial Decisions
- At the start of the postseason, players will announce their salary demands for the next year or indicate if they plan to retire.
- This information can be viewed on the Front Office page.
- You can choose to SIGN or RELEASE each player by editing contracts during the postseason. *You have the entire postseason to make or change these decisions -at the season flip, the chosen actions will take effect.
- Players set to SIGN will be retained at their new salary, while players set to RELEASE will be dropped into Free Agency.
- In Hard Cap leagues, the total team salary for the next year must be lower than the league salary cap.
- If a team's salary demands would exceed the cap, the page will indicate which players will be released if no action is taken.
- Decisions can be modified during the preseason, but choices that would exceed the cap cannot be saved.
Reasons for Choosing Hard Cap/Binding Contracts/Other Financial Restrictions
- A hard salary cap with a reasonable cap number creates more financial choices for teams, forcing them to release players to free agency.
- Binding contracts increase the value of salary cap space as teams cannot shed salary mid-season. Teams that use up their salary cap at the flip will have limited flexibility in bidding on free agents or making moves.
- Some leagues implement a variable cap during part of the season to increase free agency. For example, a hard cap of $50 million may be enforced before the postseason, and after the flip, the cap is raised to $60 million to allow more teams to participate in free agency while still acquiring depth players.
With options such as Hard Cap, Binding Contracts, adjustable league cap numbers, and Pre-Season Free Agents, leagues have numerous choices to determine how important a role Free Agency will play.