Dec 21, 2023; Inglewood, California, USA; The NFL shield lgo on the field at SoFi Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

NFL salary cap rises to record $255.4M

The 2024 salary cap surged to a record $255.4 million per team, up more than $30 million from last season.

The NFL made the massive increase official on Friday and announced each club will have $74 million for player benefits, which includes both money for performance incentives and benefits for retirees to raise the total player personnel spending to $329.4 million per team.

Teams had a salary cap of $224.8 million in 2023 and projections of a cap limit around $240 million were off by more than 50 percent. The increase in spending is due to new media deals as well as a finalizing of the books to remove advances and deferrals necessitated by the pandemic from the league ledger.

With the new cap set, only six teams were over the salary cap for 2024 as of Friday. That includes the New Orleans Saints, who have a league-high $321 million on the books for player contracts in 2024.

The Washington Commanders have nearly $100 million and a league-high cash surplus factoring in the $30 million increase for the 2024 cap.

Teams had been operating under the estimation that they would see a salary cap increase of around $14 million.

Clubs have until the start of the new league year — March 13 at 4 p.m. — to get under the salary cap.

The cap has risen annually since 2011, except for 2021, as the league prioritized recovery from the pandemic, including loss of live attendance gate and concessions profits.

In 2011, the cap was $120.37 million. It crossed the $200 million barrier in 2022 at $208.2 million.

The NFL also released what clubs must pay players should the teams use the franchise tag or the transition tag, per position.

Franchise tag:
Quarterback: $38.3 million
Running back: $11.9 million
Wide receiver: $21.8 million
Tight end: $12.7 million
Offensive lineman: $21 million
Defensive end: $21.3 million
Defensive tackle: $22.1 million
Linebacker: $24 million
Cornerback: $19.8 million
Safety: $17.1 million
Kicker/punter: $6 million

Transition tag:
Quarterback: $34.4 million
Running back: $9.8 million
Wide receiver: $19.8 million
Tight end: $10.9 million
Offensive lineman: $19 million
Defensive end: $19.1 million
Defensive tackle: $18.5 million
Linebacker: $20 million
Cornerback: $17.2 million
Safety: $13.8 million
Kicker/punter: $5.4 million

–Field Level Media

Chiefs fans wave Taylor Swift and Travis Kelce cutouts at Arrowhead Stadium.

Report: SBLVIII tickets reach record prices

With the NFL’s title game in Las Vegas for the first time, combined with the Taylor Swift effect on the Kansas City Chiefs’ side and the San Francisco 49ers’ West Coast fandom, ticket prices are a record level for Super Bowl LVIII.

According to ticket aggregator TicketIQ, the average secondary ticket market list pricing for the Feb. 11 game at Allegiant Stadium has reached a record $10,752. Tickets for Super Bowl LV in Tampa, Fla., went for a higher number but the pandemic limited capacity to just 25,000.

Average prices for Super Bowl LVIII were at a record $9,815 on online marketplace TickPick, an increase of 70 percent over last year’s title game, Front Office Sports reported.

Making their fourth Super Bowl appearance in five seasons, the Chiefs have been a popular team for years. Support for the Chiefs has been bolstered by Swift’s relationship with star tight end Travis Kelce, which has the pop star’s fans swooning from coast to coast.

The 49ers, who are aiming to join the New England Patriots and Pittsburgh Steelers with the most Super Bowl wins (six), are highly popular on social media. It also doesn’t hurt that San Francisco is loaded with offensive stars — Christian McCaffrey, George Kittle, Deebo Samuel, Brandon Aiyuk and Brock Purdy.

Wrapping it all up is the fact that Las Vegas, a destination for millions of partygoers, is hosting the country’s largest single sporting event.

“This is probably one of the lower-impact (potential) matchups, actually, and demand is still up,” TicketIQ founder and CEO Jesse Lawrence told Front Office Sports. “All bets are off for where this goes over the next two weeks, but I do think team demand is less of a factor this year, and the Vegas location is definitely helping drive this.”

Just to get into this Super Bowl, it’ll cost fans more than $7,000, one of the highest non-COVID figures for the annual event.

However, had the Detroit Lions prevailed over the 49ers in the NFC title game, the ticket prices likely would’ve skyrocketed even further. The Lions, who have never played in the Super Bowl, won their first playoff game in 32 years and won two postseason games for the first time since 1957.

“The Lions’ demand for this would have been through the roof,” Lawrence said.

–Field Level Media

Jan 28, 2024; Baltimore, Maryland, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens during the first half in the AFC Championship football game at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Travis Kelce breaks Jerry Rice’s playoff receptions record

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce set an NFL record for most career postseason receptions during Sunday’s AFC Championship Game against the host Baltimore Ravens.

Kelce’s seventh reception of the game was his 152nd postseason catch, surpassing the mark held by legendary Jerry Rice. The record-breaking catch came midway through the second quarter.

Kelce, 34, played in his 21st postseason game on Sunday. Rice played in 29 during his career from 1985-2004.

In the first quarter, Kelce caught his 19th postseason touchdown catch, three shy of Rice’s record.

Kelce went over 100 yards receiving on Kansas City’s first possession of the third quarter. It is his eighth 100-yard outing in the postseason, tying Rice for the all-time record.

–Field Level Media

Jan 7, 2024; Santa Clara, California, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua (17) reacts after scoring a touchdown against the San Francisco 49ers during the first quarter at Levi's Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Darren Yamashita-USA TODAY Sports

Rams WR Puka Nacua sets two rookie receiving records

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Pula Nacua set NFL rookie records on consecutive catches in the third quarter against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday in Santa Clara, Calif.

A 7-yard pass from Carson Wentz pushed Nacua’s yardage total to 1,480 this season, surpassing the 1,473 of rookie Bill Groman of the Houston Oilers in 1960.

On the next play, Wentz and Nacua connected for the fourth time in the game for 6 yards, giving Nacua, a fifth-round draft pick this year, 105 catches, one better than the Miami Dolphins’ Jaylen Waddle in 2021.

The Rams scored a touchdown on the drive, pulling to within 20-13 late in the third quarter. San Francisco has already locked in the top NFC seed in the postseason, and the Rams were assured of a wild-card berth.

The teams were playing numerous backups, and Nacua immediately left the game after his historic catches.

–Field Level Media

Dec 2, 2023; Atlanta, GA, USA;  Alabama Crimson Tide place kicker Will Reichard (16) warms up before the SEC Championship Game against the Georgia Bulldogs at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Gary Cosby Jr.-USA TODAY Sports

Alabama kicker Will Reichard becomes NCAA’s all-time leading scorer

Alabama kicker Will Reichard booted a 43-yard field goal in the first quarter of Saturday’s Southeastern Conference title game to become the NCAA’s all-time leading scorer with 533 career points.

Reichard finished the game with 539 career points. He tacked on three extra points and a 28-yard field goal to help No. 8 Alabama to a 27-24 win over top-ranked Georgia.

The kick against Georgia with 3:43 left in the period snapped a tie between Reichard and former Navy quarterback Keenan Reynolds, who scored 530 points from 2012-15. Reynolds scored 88 touchdowns and added one two-point conversion.

Reichard, a fifth-year kicker, entered the contest with 290 extra points and 80 field goals.

Reichard also entered Saturday with 104 points this season. He was 18 of 21 on field goals and had made all 50 extra-point attempts.

–Field Level Media

Sep 25, 2023; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua (17) catches a pass in the second quarter of the NFL Week 3 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Los Angeles Rams at Paycor Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Sam Greene-USA TODAY Sports

Rams WR Puka Nacua sets rookie receiving record

Los Angeles Rams wide receiver Puka Nacua made his 31st catch of the season on the first play of the game against the Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, setting the record for the most catches by a rookie in his first four games.

Nacua set the record when he caught a 26-yard pass over the middle from Matthew Stafford.

The pass was high, but Nacua reached for it, then tipped the ball to himself to secure the catch.

The play helped to set up a touchdown run by Kyren Williams for his fifth score of the season and a 7-0 Rams lead.

Nacua, 22, was taken by the Rams in the fifth round of the 2023 NFL Draft.

Entering Sunday’s game at Indianapolis, Nacua led the Rams in both receptions (30) and yards (338) to help fill the void left by the injury absence of All-Pro Cooper Kupp.

–Field Level Media

Jan 2, 2023; Pasadena, California, USA; Penn State Nittany Lions quarterback Sean Clifford (14) warms up before the game between the Utah Utes and the Penn State Nittany Lions at Rose Bowl. Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

Draft record-setter: 11 QBs taken in first 150 picks

The Green Bay Packers’ selection of quarterback Sean Clifford from Penn State in the fifth round of the NFL draft on Saturday was a record breaker.

NFL Network reported that this is first draft in history in which 11 quarterbacks were taken in the first 150 picks.

The Packers nabbed Clifford with pick 149.

The Minnesota Vikings went on to add Jaren Hall of BYU with the 164th pick, making him the 12th quarterback selected in the first five rounds.

The first 10 picks selected, and their draft number are:
No. 1: Bryce Young, Carolina Panthers
No. 2: C.J. Stroud, Houston Texans
No. 4: Anthony Richardson, Indianapolis Colts
No. 33: Will Levis, Tennessee Titans
No. 68 : Hendon Hooker, Detroit Lions
No. 127: Jake Haener, New Orleans Saints
No. 128: Stetson Bennett, Los Angeles Rams
No. 135: Aidan O’Connell, Las Vegas Raiders
No. 139: Clayton Tune, Arizona Cardinals
No. 140: Dorian Thompson-Robinson, Cleveland Browns

–Field Level Media

Jan 8, 2023; Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) throws a pass against the Atlanta Falcons in the first quarter at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

At 45, Tom Brady continues to rewrite record book

Tom Brady, who holds every significant quarterback record, broke two NFL records on Sunday in a brief appearance for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers against the Atlanta Falcons.

With the Buccaneers already locked into the No. 4 seed in the NFC playoffs, Brady played long enough to establish new standards for most completions (490) and attempts (733) in a regular season.

For the game, he completed 13 of 17 passes for 84 yards and a touchdown before giving way to Blaine Gabbert.

In his 23rd season, the 45-year-old Brady broke the record for completions (485) he set just last year. His 733 pass attempts surpassed the 727 mark established by Matthew Stafford with the Detroit Lions in 2012.

–Field Level Media

Nov 24, 2022; Arlington, Texas, USA; Dallas Cowboys wide receiver CeeDee Lamb (88) catches a pass for a first down as New York Giants cornerback Darnay Holmes (30) defends during the second half of the game between the Cowboys and the Giants at AT&T Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jerome Miron-USA TODAY Sports

Giants-Cowboys most watched regular-season game in NFL history

The NFL said Friday that the Thanksgiving Day game between the host Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants set a regular-season viewership record.

The FOX broadcast averaged 42 million viewers, according to the league.

Dallas has played on Thanksgiving for 45 straight seasons and 55 times overall. This year was the first time since 1992 that it played its division rival from New York, the largest media market in the country, on the holiday. Both teams entered the game 7-3, adding to the interest.

The Cowboys beat the Giants 28-20.

The league said it also set a record for its Thanksgiving Day “total unduplicated audience” of 138 million.

The Buffalo Bills, one of the AFC’s best teams, beat the host Detroit Lions 28-25 on a late field goal in the early game. The host Minnesota Vikings topped the New England Patriots 33-26 in the nightcap.

The average viewership across the tripleheader was 33.5 million viewers per game.

The news comes as the NFL and Amazon plan to begin staging a single Black Friday game beginning in 2023.

–Field Level Media

Nov 6, 2022; Tampa, Florida, USA;  Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Tom Brady (12) drops back to pass against the Los Angeles Rams in the first quarter at Raymond James Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

Tom Brady becomes first to surpass 100,000 passing yards

Tom Brady became the first player in NFL history to rack up 100,000 career passing yards across the regular season and playoffs Sunday.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ quarterback entered Sunday’s home game against the Los Angeles Rams standing at 99,836 total yards. He surpassed 100,000 on a fourth-quarter pass to running back Leonard Fournette, who went 15 yards on a third-down play.

“I think for me it’s a credit to all the guys that I’ve played with, and who have blocked for me, who have caught passes,” Brady said after the game. “I think I can’t do (expletive) in this league without guys doing what they are amazing at, too.”

Brady made sure the milestone happened in a winning effort. He engineered a 60-yard drive in 35 seconds with no timeouts and connected with rookie tight end Cade Otton on 1-yard touchdown pass with nine seconds remaining to lift Tampa Bay over the Rams, 16-13. That play gave Brady 280 passing yards for the game and 100,116 for his career.

It marked another NFL record — Brady’s 55th career game-winning drive in the fourth quarter or overtime, breaking a tie with Peyton Manning.

Brady already owns the career regular-season passing yards record, which he took from Drew Brees last season. Brees is a distant second on the list for regular-season plus postseason yardage, at 85,724.

–Field Level Media