The rumors are swirling that Will Johnson is set to join TFC and combined with all the other moves made by Toronto FC this off-season the club is very tight with the cap and it is more than likely that the opening day starting goalkeeper is not currently on the roster. How much cap room does TFC actually have? What will they do to get under the cap? When do they have to be cap compliant? How much is the cap going to be in 2016? We're here today to try to sort out some of those questions and give you, the TFC supporter, a better picture of where the club stands at this point of the off-season.
For starters, MLS did something yesterday that it doesn't typically do. The league released a list of every club and their rosters including player designations such as "International", "Homegrown", "Designated Player" and "Generation Adidas". Better yet the list appears to be something that the league is keeping updated as Steven Beitashour was added to Toronto FC today. Toronto FC currently has 26 of 28 roster spots filled and 6 of 8 international spots accounted for. It is interesting to note that it appears as though Steven Beithshour does not count as an international.
The 2016 salary cap is set at $3.6 million and based on the 2015 salaries of the 26 players on the roster TFC currently sit at a cap figure of $3,823,865.81. A hefty $223,865.81 over the cap for next year, not including the raise that Justin Morrow presumably got in his new deal. If TFC acquires Will Johnson and his $334,333.33 salary the club is north of a half million over the cap.
There are plenty of tools for management to use and lots of time to use them as clubs need to be cap compliant by March 1, 2016. Firstly TFC still have the ability to buy out one contract. Based on performance last year, cap figure, international status and depth at the position Ahmed Kantari and his $345k cap figure is the consensus to be bought out.
There is also General Allocation Money (GAM) which can be used to pay down a players cap hit. The value of GAM for each team is never released, is different for every team and can be traded which makes it impossible for one outside of MLS to track. Trying to determine how much will be used and where is a fruitless effort.
What MLS has made public is Targeted Allocation Money (TAM). TAM was introduced earlier this year and is an extra $100k that can be used to pay down a player's cap figure. MLS later announced an additional $800k of TAM would be available to each team in both the 2016 and 2017 seasons. A few important notes about TAM are:
- Only players making between $457,550 and $1 million are eligible for TAM
- TAM can't be combined with GAM
- The maximum a club can pay down a player's cap hit is to $150k.
- Any of the additional $1.6m TAM not used by the end of the 2017 season reverts back to the league.
No one on the current TFC roster is eligible to be a target of TAM but front office could potentially restructure deals of Damien Perquis (2015 cap hit of $372,500) or Will Johnson, should he be acquired, to give the player some more money while making them eligible for TAM. Theoretically if Perquis and Johnson are both bumped to the minimum TAM eligible salary and TAM is used to apply a minimum cap hit to those players TFC finds itself $190+k under the cap and $300k in TAM left for 2016, plenty to find a quality keeper.
There is going to be plenty of chatter about TFC and the cap this off-season however there shouldn't be any reason for concern.