A Noobs guide to the Salary Cap in CFM

This guide is intended to be a fairly simplistic introduction to the salary cap and each of its features in the Connected Franchise Mode of Madden 25

Whether you are new to the game, the NFL in general or even just want to brush up on your knowledge for the forthcoming franchises, I hope this can help you out

The Main Salary Cap Hub

The screen below will be your ‘go to’ screen when it comes to knowing your cap

It can be found by going to – Team, Manage Rosters, Salaries

The important parts of this screen have been marked by numbers above, and will be explained here

1) ‘The Cap’ is an amount of money which you have available to spend on player salaries over 1 year. As you can see, the 2013 cap is $123m. This will rise year on year, by how much is decided by the game. The sum of all your salaries and cap penalties must be below this number

2) ‘Salaries’ is the total sum of the cap hits for all players on your roster for the current year

3) ‘Cap Space’ signifies the amount of free money you have to spend for the current season. This is derived by subtracting your Total Salaries and Cap Penalties from the Salary Cap, leaving your ‘Cap Space’

4) and 5) ‘Cap Penalties’ are something that will be explained in more detail further down the page. This is the quickest place to see your penalties for the current and next season

6) The ‘Rookie Reserve’ is a sum of money that will automatically be held back from your cap for the forthcoming year. When you select a rookie in the draft, they are automatically signed to a contract depending on where they are drafted. The game reserves the correct amount of money from your cap to sign these players. The value depends on the picks you currently hold. A first round pick, for example, will be more expensive than a 3rd round pick. Should you trade picks over the course of the season this amount will change to reflect the picks you currently hold. NB, this will stay at $0 until the off-season, at which point the financial information will roll over to the next year and this number will be viewable until draft week


Cap Details For Players On Your Roster

 The below 2 screens are very important when it comes to understanding the situation you are in with each of your players relating to the salary cap. This is an important place to look when you are considering trading or releasing one of your contracted players to understand how it will affect your cap

The screen is again found by going to – Team, Manage Rosters, Salaries

The details on the bottom screen are found by using the Left Stick to scroll to the right

Again, the important points are annotated with numbers and explained below

Firstly you have the players details including position, age and OVR (which is scheme dependent)

1) and 2) Contract Length Details – Showing the total length of the players contract and how long of it they have left. The years left include the current year

3) Total value of the deal, is the sum of the total salary and bonus of the deal

4) Bonus is the money that was guaranteed to the player over the life of the contract. This is very important as this money will always have to be paid, even if the player is traded or cut. This column has a big impact on your cap and penalties. It is always spread evenly over the length of the contract, for example if it is a 5 year contract and $10m bonus it will be paid at a rate of $2m per year

5) ‘Cap Hits’ for the current and next 4 seasons. The cap hit is the actual number that will count against your cap that season for the player in question. It is the sum of the pro-rata bonus for that year and pro-rata salary for that year. Where bonus is spread evenly over the course of a contract, salary (which is not guaranteed) is ‘back loaded’, so you will pay a lower amount in year 1 and higher amounts every year afterwards. A working example would be $20m salary over 5 years could be paid something like..

Year 1 – 2m, Year 2 – 3m, Year 3 – 4m, Year 4 – 5m, Year 5 – 6m

Therefore your cap hit for the player will rise year on year depending on how much of the contract is bonus and how much is salary

This is also very handy for forecasting your cap for future years, as you can go to the correct year and manually add up the cap hits for your players for that year, giving you a quick guide to where you will be

6) and 7) Without doubt the two most imporant columns when assessing whether you can move a player on or not. The ‘Savings’ tab tells you the amount of money that your cap will be affected by this player leaving your roster for the current year. A positive number is an indictation of the amount you will gain on your cap, and takes into account any cap penalties and the salary you will save. A negative number works exactly the same, but means that moving that player will actually cost you that amount more than the current cap hit due to cap penalties

The ‘Penalty’ tab tells you what the total cap penalty will be for the same transaction, which will often be split over 2 years dependent on time of year Again we will go into cap penalties further on


Resigning Players/Negotiating With Free Agents

With the overview of the cap out of the way, we look in detail at the 2nd biggest part of the cap, which is resigning your own players and bringing in Free Agents

The first image we see here is the screen you will use for resigning your own players when their contract is up. You will have a chance to negotiate with any of your players who wish to, from week 1 of the regular season of their last year

To see this screen you head to – Team, Manager Rosters, Resign Players

Again, this is a list of all the players you have available for resigning. Along with their details, you have a record of their outstanding Xp to be spent, how interested they are in resigning and their age

1) is a quick guide to your cap space for the next season, when the first year of these deals will hit. Your ‘Cap Room’ is how far below the cap you are, while your available funds is your cap room MINUS your rookie reserve and any ongoing negotiations with other players

2) The ‘Tag Salary’ is basically your backup option. You will generally get a couple of attempts to negotiate with the player, as long as you are in the right ballpark. Should things go completely wrong, and their status switches to ‘Unavailable’, you won’t have necessarily lost them. You have the option to ‘franchise tag’ one player every year. Basically you can force them to stay with you for 1 year by paying them the amount of money in this column. It changes depending on their position and is the average of the top5 salaries at that position in the league. You will only get 1 chance to do this, which is the off-season week after the Superbowl. This money is split evenly, with 50% being salary and 50% being bonus

And finally, the Contract Offer Screen

You will see this screen at 2 points. As above, you will see it when negotiating with your players in the last year of their contracts, as well as in the off-season when you are negotiationg to sign a Free Agent

1) Essentially, what they want. This is probably your starting point for negotiations if you are serious about bringing them in

2) Your offer. Again, very important to remember.. Salary is not guaranteed, Bonus is guaranteed. Obviously they will be more likely to sign the more bonus you give them, but at the same time they will tougher to cut/trade as you will pay more cap penalties

Another reminder, Bonus is split evenly over the course of a contract, while salary is backloaded. Finding the sweet spot between salary and bonus will often be key to a deal

3) Another quick reminder to how much money you actually have available to spend 


Cap Penalties

A subject so confusing to some, it has been known to make grown men cry. I am going to simplify it as much as I possibly can for you

As we have seen above, every player has a basic breakdown to their conract. This comes in the form of a number of years the contract will last, an amount of salary (non-guaranteed) and an amount of bonus money (guaranteed money)

Cap penalties are derived from the bonus money that you promised a player. This always has to be paid in full, despite the fact that it is spread over the length of the contract. If you trade away or release a player who was guaranteed money, you will be penalised what is still owed against your cap. This is done in 2 different ways, depending on the time of the year

1) If you are anywhere from Pre-Season Week 1 to Superbowl week, you will be penalised all remaining bonus, which be split into 1 years bonus in the current year, all remaining bonus in the next year

2) If you are anywhere in the off-season, from player resigning to the draft, you will be penalised all remaining bonus in the current year

EA have very kindly added us in some tools this year to make working it out a little easier. They are in this photo below, the same as further up the page

Marked 6) and 7)

Taking a working example, we look at the 3rd row down. This player has a cap hit for 2013, the current year, of $2.29m. If we look further up the page, we will see that he is on a 4 year contract with 4 years remaining, with a total $4m bonus, which means his penalty is $4m. As we are in the regular season we will be penalised 1 year ($1m) this year, and 3 years ($3m) the next year. So our saving this year will be his cap hit ($2.29m) minus this years penalty ($1m), so $1.29m

A more complicated example is the bottom row. This player has a 6 year contract, with 5 years remaining with a total bonus of $22.8m ($3.8m per year). With 5 years remaining, we are penalised 1 years bonus this year ($3.8m) and the remaining 4 years ($15.2m) the year after. So while we may be saving $9m this year (Cap hit minus penalty), we would be penalised $15.2m next year as opposed to his cap hit of $14.8m

These numbers should give you an idea of why giving out large amounts of guaranteed money is a big risk, as you take the risk of incuring large penalties should you come to a situation where you need to release that player. It is always better to err on the side of more salary, less bonus