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Madden 20 Salary Cap Penalty Tutorial

The Numbers Madden Gives You Are Wrong – Here’s How Cap Penalties Really Work In Madden 20

When it comes to salary cap penalties in Madden 20, EA Sports leaves players all on their own to figure it out. Yes, they provide some numbers but they are wildly misleading and if you rely on them your team will be in a terrible cap situation.

Today we are continuing on with our theme of breaking down areas of franchise mode outside of just gameplay that can get you a competitive advantage.

By the end of this article, you will be a salary cap expert. You will be the guy that everyone in your franchise asks to see if their trade will work with the salary cap.

We will break down the math at the end for those of you that want to get way into the weeds but we will also provide a handy tool so you never have to do the math again if you don’t want to.

Let’s dive in and start with an example. This is Jaguars quarterback Nick Foles. He just signed a 4 year contract worth $88 million dollars.

Madden tells us that although he has a big penalty, we will save $750k by cutting him.

This is awfully tempting since we don’t want that contract to eat up our cap space for the next 4 years. I think most people can agree that in a Madden franchise, you don’t want a mediocre 30 year old QB leading your team.

Unfortunately, the savings number Madden provides is wildly misleading and if you cut Nick Foles, you will not be able to do much of anything in the offseason.

Yes, it is true that you will save $750k this season. However, no one really cares about saving money in the middle of the season. Your 53 man roster is more or less set and clearing $750k in cap room won’t help you unless you desperately want to sign an undrafted rookie free agent.

The hidden number that Madden never tells you is that when you go into the offseason, you will have an additional ~$34 million in cap penalties. That is money that you can’t use to sign your drafted rookies or free agents.

In a best case scenario, that loss will prevent you from signing 2-3 of the absolute best players in free agency. In a worst case scenario, you will have to cut more highly paid players on your team who are nearing the end of their contracts. By cutting 1 player at the wrong time because you don’t have all the information can set your team back years.

Wouldn’t it make sense for this information to be readily available in Madden 20? Unfortunately, it isn’t so we have to figure it out on our own.

We are going to dive into the numbers on how to calculate this but if you don’t feel like doing math, don’t worry we have you covered. We built our Madden 20 Salary Cap Penalty Tool to do all this work for you!

Warning: Math Ahead

Before we get started, we should make sure that everyone knows how contracts are structured in Madden. Contracts are agreed to using a combination of signing bonus and salary.

Signing bonus is money that you are committing to pay that player no matter what, even if you cut or trade him. Salary is the non-guaranteed part of the contract. Once you cut the player, you don’t have to pay him any more salary for the remaider of the contract.

Also, this calculation only works during the season and it applies the same regardless of whether a player is traded or cut. When you are in the offseason, the “Savings” number that Madden provides is usually accurate.

Now that we have cleared that up, first we need to navigate to the “Salaries” area in Madden 20. Then, we just need to look for 3 things: Total Contract Length, Contract Years Remaining, and Total Signing Bonus.

We have conveniently pointed them out and numbered them for you above. Once you have those numbers, you can figure out any salary cap hit.

The first thing you have to do is take the total signing bonus, which in this case is $45.1M and then divide by the total contract length which in this case is 4.

Signing bonuses in Madden are spread evenly throughout each year of the contract. So in the case above, we have 45.1/4 = 11.275. That means that each year of Nick Foles’ contract, he is due $11.275 million dollars as a signing bonus.

When you cut a player during the season, you are immediately hit with 1 year’s worth of his cap penalty. Which again, in Nick Foles’ case is $11.275 million dollars.

Then the rest of the cap penalty left over is all taken in the 2nd year. Nick Foles has 4 years left on his contract so you take 1/4th of the 45.1 Million dollar cap hit this season ($11.275M) and then the other 3/4th of it the next season.

So to do that math, we can either multiply 3*11.275 or we can multiply 45.1*(3/4). Either way you feel more comfortable will work. They will both result in $33.825 million dollars in a cap penalty next year.

To confirm that our math was correct, we cut Nick Foles and looked at the cap penalties.

The red highlighted boxes show our numbers are exactly right. $11.3 million cap penalty in the first year and $33.9 million in cap penalties the 2nd year (Madden rounds up).

If you will remember from earlier, the cap savings number for this season if we cut Nick Foles was $750K. The way that is calculated is you look at his current year salary (in the imagine 2 above) which says $12 million. You save $12 million in salary but are hit with a $11.275 million dollar penalty.

The way that works is $12 million – $11.275 million = 725K. Remember that Madden always rounds slightly up, and that is how the $750K current year savings number is calculated.

Math Over!

Luckily, you don’t have to do any of this math unless you want to. Our tool will do it all for you so you never find yourself in a bad cap situation.

Always consult our Madden 20 Cap Penalty calculator before you decide to cut or trade a player.

Yes this information should already be in the game but for whatever reason, EA Sports has decided it isn’t important.

Want to learn more tips and tricks for Madden 20 franchise mode? Check out our other resources:

What other salary cap tips and strategies do you use? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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Jacob Robertson
Jacob Robertson
4 years ago

What year of Nick foles contract can you release him and actually save more then you would lose in penalty?

Cory Watson
Cory Watson
3 years ago

One question about this (applied to Madden 21, but assuming it’s the same math).

I’m the Eagles and we’re in cap hell after 2020 because of how the real life Eagles manage contracts. I’m trying to understand this though:

It’s week 1 of the regular season in 2020. I decide to drop Hargrave. Before I do, this is the Eagles cap situation:
2020 Cap Penalty: $1.17M
2021 Cap Penalty: $820K

Here’s Hargrave’s contract at the time of the release:
Total: $38.97M
Bonus: $25M
2020: $5.17M
2021: $16.9M
2022: $16.9M
Contract Length: 3 years
Remaining Length: 3 years

So I release Hargrave to validate the math above, some something very strange happened. After releasing him, this was the Eagles cap situation:
2020 Cap Penalty: $5.84M (difference of $4.67M)
2021 Cap Penalty: $21.2M (difference of $20.38M)

What’s strange to me is that Hargrave’s per year bonus amount is $8.3M, so what should have happened is that the 2020 Cap Penalty should have increased by $8.3M (not $4.67M) and the 2021 Cap Penalty should have increased by $16.66M (not $20.38M).

Any thoughts on why some of the 2020 cap penalty hit (about 44%) ended up in 2021?

Cory Watson
Cory Watson
3 years ago

Actually have one more example, but very similar with Slay.

Before releasing:
2020 Cap Penalty: $1.17M
2021 Cap Penalty: $820K

Slay’s contract:
Total: $60.6M
Bonus: $25.6M
2020: $4.3M
2021: $15.8M
2022: $19.8M
2023: $20.8M
Contract Length: 4 years
Remaining Length: 4 years

After release:
2020 Cap Penalty: $4.97M (difference of $3.8M)
2021 Cap Penalty: $22.6M (difference of $21.78M)

So 2020’s cap penalty was about 59% of 1 year’s bonus, the other 41% of year 1’s bonus was applied in the 2021 cap penalty.

I just don’t understand that math, maybe you do.

Thank you for your time!

3 years ago

I have 3 questions.

My 1st question isn’t about resigning players in the off season. What I have been trying to figure out is the calculations for when you sign a free agent during the regular season to a 1 year deal with no bonus. The signing amount doesn’t directly translate on the current year cap space/room. Also, when you try to sign another free agent it seems like 50% of the contract was removed from that cap space, and I don’t have a clue why.

My 2nd question is like the inverse of the 1st. When I cut players that are on a 1 year deal (which means the current season) the net savings can be 750k, but I only see an increase of .1M. I have done this in week 1 and week 16 to test if there is any prorating going on with the contracts when players are cut but that was not the case. I also cut players of different net saving amounts and got different reductions to the current year cap space.

My 3rd question is what is the benefit to having current year cap space when resigning players after the superbowl and how does it work/apply in detail?
(I seen in a YouTube video that there is a benefit to having cap space from the season that just ended when trying to resign players which I thought was an extension that only affected future years)

3 years ago

I don’t believe this works for Madden 21 and I have tried to figure out how Madden 21 decides to apply the penalty and it does not seem to be consistent.

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