The 2014 NFL salary cap likely will be even higher than recent projections suggested.
Barring a significant, unexpected audit issue, the cap should be set by Monday and fall between $132 million and $133 million, a person with knowledge of calculations told USA TODAY Sports, speaking on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to comment.
That'd be up more than 8% from the $123 million figure in 2013 and far exceed the original projection of $126.3 million given to teams at the NFL meetings in December.
It'd also be the highest salary cap in league history, surpassing the $127.997 million cap in 2009, the last capped year under the old collective bargaining agreement.
Late last week, NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith said the cap would be $130 million. But subsequent reports, including two Thursday from ESPN and The Washington Post, said it could land even higher.
As of Thursday afternoon, only two teams — the Dallas Cowboys ($150.9 million) and Pittsburgh Steelers ($138.7 million) — would not have been in compliance. The 2014 league year and free agency begin March 11.
Critics of the current CBA have argued the cap should have risen more quickly, rather than dropping to $120.375 million in the lockout-shortened 2011 league year, then inching up to $120.6 million in 2012 and then to $123 million in 2013.
The union counters the 2011 CBA emphasizes cash over cap spending on player salaries and benefits, which exceeded $10 billion over the first two years of the deal.
According to data compiled by the NFLPA and obtained by USA TODAY Sports, the average team cash spend in 2009 was roughly $114.5 million — 89.5% of that record cap.
The 2011 CBA gives players 55% of revenue from TV deals, 45% of revenue from league properties and 40% of local revenue. The agreement includes spending minimums of 89% per team and 95% league-wide of the cap in cash over a four-year period from 2013 to '16 and from 2017 to '20, combating teams who regularly left their cap space unused under the old deal.