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When the NFL salary cap is announced, expect bedlam

The league and the NFLPA still haven’t come up with a figure for 2021’s salary cap — but it could come very soon.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Kansas City Chiefs John Sleezer/Kansas City Star/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

On Tuesday, a significant deadline awaits: the end of the period in which NFL teams may place franchise and transition tags on their players for the 2021 season. And yet... there is still no official word on what the NFL’s salary cap will be.

While the Kansas City Chiefs are not currently expected to tag any of their players, it’s an understatement to say that it will be difficult for the rest of the league’s teams to make decisions about them without a clear idea about how much money will be available.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport brought it up on Monday morning.

ESPN’s Dan Graziano reported that while the league and the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) continue to grapple over the final cap number, they’re already discussing pushing the tag deadline back — and in turn, ESPN’s Field Yates noted that a year ago, the league ended up pushing it back all the way until the last minute before the league year began.

Still, the presence of the tag deadline is putting pressure on the negotiations. And whenever a final cap figure is announced, we should expect nothing less than bedlam.

While some teams have already begun making moves to get under the cap, other teams — including the Chiefs — have announced no changes. Weeks ago, general manager Brett Veach said that he and his experts had worked out scenarios with cap numbers ranging from the previously-announced minimum of $175 million all the way to $195 million. So it’s reasonable to think that the Chiefs have plans ready to execute for whatever cap number is ultimately announced.

The most recent reports have indicated the cap is likely to fall between $180 million and $185 million — which means the Chiefs could be anywhere from $18.5 million to $23.5 million over the cap. So wherever the cap finally lands, the Chiefs will have to make a lot of moves just to get under it — much less decide on contract tenders for their six restricted free agents and four exclusive rights free agents. All of that will have to be done before the new league year begins a week from Wednesday at 3 p.m. Arrowhead Time.

And after that, the Chiefs should have to have enough space to operate within free agency, too.

So hang on. In a matter of days — perhaps even starting on Monday — things could start moving very quickly.