How to Use Salary Cap When Rebuilding

By: Jay Pounds (@JayPoundsNFL

The challenges Dynasty Owner presents on its own are tough enough, now throw a rebuild on top of it and you are left with quite a challenge, catastrophe, mess, or an enjoyable time depending on who you ask. If you go into a rebuild with a negative outlook and are not actively involved in trading and free agency you will not have much of a chance.

Obviously, a rebuild means your team stinks which is not much fun, but if you have a plan and look to the future rebuilding can become quite interesting, especially here on Dynasty Owner. A rebuild in this format is so much different and has many more moving parts from, salary cap, new contracts, future contracts, and who can you afford to keep on your roster each year.

As I have mentioned before I will be talking various aspects of rebuilds and the different challenges rebuilding will present. Today’s article will be geared around what to do with the salary cap when rebuilding which I have found several different strategies that owners can deploy when using the cap to their advantage. If you really sit back and think about it there are many ways you can use players’ salaries to expedite your rebuild and I will do my best to break some of those down in depth some with deals I have made already.  

I want to touch on this offseason briefly before we get into the article. Each of us writers (Nate, The Jerk, Steve, and myself) will be specializing in different areas that will help owners construct their teams or make tough decisions. I will be specializing in rebuilding your team as I have mentioned in previous articles. Rebuilding dynasty teams is something I really enjoy doing and have done quite a bit of in the past, and I am now here to pass that knowledge off to you.

Dynasty Owner will present several different strategies you can use to build your team back up. Throughout this offseason I will do my best to help explain these strategies for owners to use in the coming months. I will also be doing videos with each article that will go a bit more in depth and may answer some questions you have. The reason I mention this again is to encourage all of you to ask questions on the videos/articles on YouTube or Twitter. We are here to help you guys please do not be shy! 

What To Do With a Producing Aging Vet on a Big Deal 

Let us pretend its draft day and you select CMC with your first-round pick, you are excited as anyone is when getting a player of CMC’s caliber on your roster. The next few rounds go by and you select players who are ready to produce now and all but having your mind made up its this season or bust for a championship. You take Mixon in the second knowing your 2 star running backs will have shiny new deals next season and you must draft to win now potentially losing one of the 2 running backs to cap reasons next year.

The 6th round is now here and staring you in the face is Julio Jones and his 4-year $22,000,000 deal, you draft him with hopes of increasing your title shot as he is going early 2nd round in most redraft leagues. Fast forward to midseason with CMC out indefinitely, Mixon hurt, and Julio banged up pretty bad, your team is now in a tailspin with new contracts looming next season for several of your players. While this is a scenario many of us would like to avoid, it will happen to most at some point, when it does it is time for a rebuild because of the salary cap. The cap is not the end all be all by any means but when you have someone as expensive as Julio you just cannot keep him and have much flexibility, he is for contending owners at this point in his career.

The easiest possibility here is amnesty but we will save that reasoning for another day as it gives you nothing in return. The creative choice is look at players near Julio’s salary on the other owner’s rosters and find a player you know they want to move on from, for instance I found A.J. Green at a 1 year $17,971,000 salary who looked horrible and I knew the owner wanted no part of Green on his roster. I then sent him an offer and essentially moved Jones for Green and Jalen Reagor ($3,317,669). What I was able to do here is trade Julio who I drafted to help compete this season for a young receiver I hope produces like he is supposed to in the near future, and of course take on the burden of Greens contract.

Some may be wondering why in the world anyone would take on Green’s contract, but I knew I had no chance at competing this year with so many injuries, and his deal was only for this season so I sat on Green until he could be cut for free at the end of the year (expiring deal). There happen to be multiple ways to move a player with Julio’s salary this just seems to be the most productive in my eyes. Anytime you’re rebuilding and can turn a player who’s close to being done for a highly drafted rookie take it and run. 

What To Do With Bad Aging Players on Big Deals 

Some things in Dynasty Owner as well as the NFL are unavoidable, with the most common being older players with big deals who just don’t produce as they used too. In a perfect football world, any Dynasty Owner or NFL Gm would move on from these players before getting to this point, but we all know this isn’t the case. In Dynasty Owner you will find it’s much harder to move on from these players than regular dynasty because of the price to acquire said player.

No owner in their right mind wants a player clogging their salary cap when they aren’t producing well. So why am I even talking about these deals if you can’t move on from them? I am not recommending moving on from them instead that you target these players in your trades when rebuilding, with the main reason being you give the other owners some extra cap flexibility right now. I have found most owners are very concerned with cap space, which makes targeting bad deals to your advantage. The main thing with this strategy is you have to be mindful of is the length of the bad deal, always take deals that go along with your rebuild timeline.

If you are planning a 3 year rebuild then do not take on any bad deals over 2-3 years, preferably 2 (a year before you’re ready to compete). A great example of this would be if you were trying to trade Kareem Hunt (1 year $3,259,000) and a 3rd round pick for Antonio Gibson (4 years $1,226,433) to an owner who is tight on space. The owner says he doesn’t like the deal because it puts him right on the cap line, you then counter with Hunt for Gibson and Greg Olsen (1 year $7,000,000) and no pick (because you are taking on Olsen’s horrible deal).

The Owner accepts. Let’s break down why the owner would give up an extra player while losing the draft pick offered. If the owner takes the first offer, he is stuck cutting Olsen for a fee, or keeping him with minimal roster flexibility the rest of the season, instead he accepts the second offer with Olsen leaving 3-4 million in available space to adjust the rest of the season.

The big question is why the rebuilding owner would willingly take on Olsen’s deal, and the reason is it saves a draft pick for salary space you don’t need this season anyway. As mentioned earlier you can deploy this strategy for players on 2- or 3-year deals, if the length of your rebuild corresponds. The reasoning here is you’re not planning on competing so you don’t need the space right now, it’s also a full proof way to guarantee you will have open cap space in a year or 2. If you don’t look in depth at some of the moves you make you may overlook little things that you can use to your advantage and other owner’s advantage. Look for little things that help both owners win the deal and deals should become more fruitful for you. 

What To Do With Players on New Deals 

In my opinion the toughest part of a rebuild is what to do with your players that get new contracts, which tend to be pricey for players you consider keeping. This part of Dynasty Owner is unavoidable no matter how good, or bad your team is. When rebuilding you must look at these contracts different plain and simple. If you are just starting your rebuild a player like CMC, or Zeke are ones you would not want to keep around, by not keep I do not mean cut these players. Position, age, history, and cost will all come into play for owners in this situation.

When players such as the ones listed above are still producing now but may not be when your team is ready to win its time to move on from them, if you don’t, they will only hurt your draft capital taking longer for you to rebuild. I know it may be tough to see the name Dalvin Cook and trade him as he is a sure-fire star just about every week, but if the rest of your roster isn’t in line with Cook, he will do nothing but win you weeks you should and need to lose.

If you sit back look at things the right way you will understand a Cook for Dobbins trade even up makes plenty of sense. The reasons behind this are Cook has a huge salary, he’s on his second deal (never good for running backs), and he isn’t going to be as productive when your time to win comes.

If you acquire Dobbins, you may initially lose some value up front but in 3 years Dobbins value will more than likely be through the roof while Cook is fading away. What all this means for you as an owner is that you make your team worse right now, which is a good thing and you also should have a guaranteed Rb1 when your team is ready to compete.

Dobbins is also not the only prize in this deal, you as a rebuilding owner just opened much more cap flexibility while pinning the future burden of Cook on another owner, yet you helped him at the same time by improving his team right now. This is just one example of what to do with new deals when rebuilding, which will change drastically depending on the player, and their position. In the near future I will release articles on what to do with new deals by position when rebuilding allowing me to get a deeper look on the situation. 


As you are starting to see there are many ways to go about rebuilding here on Dynasty Owner. My best Advice to you all in a rebuild is to do your best to make it fun. I understand as fantasy players the goal is to win year in and year out making the losing years less enjoyable.

Dynasty Owner has went a long way to changing my thinking of being bummed out when my team doesn’t perform well and that’s because of how much strategy, and thought process goes into it with managing the cap, projecting rookies, trying to avoid major injuries, and everything else Dynasty Owner has that regular Dynasty doesn’t offer. After realizing the playoffs were out, I started to look at who I wanted moving forward which opened my eyes to how different this rebuild would really be.

I had CMC, Mixon, Hunt, Fournette, J. Cook, M. Jones, and a few others on expiring deals knowing I had no chance at keeping them all, so I started to get creative. Instead of that core moving forward I’m now depending on Dobbins, Gibson, Dillon, Reagor, Pittman, Davis, Cooks, multiple draft picks and 3 QBs, all because I realized none of my original players were in line with a rebuild.  I could have gambled on these players and rode another year out, but I found this route to be much more productive and fun. You have heard me say it many times and will hear it plenty more have fun with your rebuild and good luck on your 2021 Chase for the Ring! 

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