Who falls under the Salary Cap?
Answer: The "Team Salary" falls under the Salary Cap. Team salary includes the amount a team must pay its current or former players under their player contracts. Notice emphasis on the word PLAYERS. The salary cap does not apply to coaches, assistants, trainers, and other personnel. Only the top 51 player salaries for a team count against the salary cap in the offseason. (Outstanding tenders apply.) During the season, all player salaries count toward the salary cap. Question 1.5 How does the NFL Draft impact the Salary Cap?
Answer: Team salary includes the Rookie Minimum Active Salary as of the day of the draft for all drafted rookies. The salary for drafted rookies will stay at this amount until the player is signed, the team’s rights are relinquished through waivers, or until the Tuesday following the tenth week of the regular season if the player remains unsigned. Note also that there is a Rookie Salary Cap, which is a subset of the overall cap. Each team has its own unique Rookie Salary Cap, based on the number of draft picks they have and where in each round the picks occurred.
This is the key part...the rookie cap is separate from the other salaries. I remember when it was reported that Newton was offered more money, but it would have been taken from the other rookies. Basically each player has a dollar amount associated with their draft position, and when all the pick values are added up the teams can distribute the money however they want. Frankly, I don't understand why they don't just make it so guys get paid according to draft position, instead of a separate cap for all of them.