It’s easy for salary cap owners to get overwhelmed when attempting to make trades. Earlier in the series we covered the factors to consider when attempting to value a player including production, age, situation, salary and contract length. Those five elements alone are enough to give an owner anxiety. When you have to evaluate each of those factors against the same ones for the player you’re getting in return (or worse, multiple players on each side), it’s easy to think trading in salary cap is just too difficult. This installment of Salary Cap Confidential will alleviate some of that anxiety.
Before we get too far into things, it’s important to know that understanding your league’s trade rules is incredibly important. For instance, most cap leagues offer owners the ability to cover portions (or all) of a player’s salary or trade salary cap space outright as part of a trade negotiation. If your league doesn’t allow this, it’s going to be more difficult to successfully make trades than every other paragraph of this article will make you believe. I suggest you find a league that allows such things if yours doesn’t.
Trading Tip #1: Value Cap Space Properly in Trade Negotiations
I’ve stated throughout this series that salary cap space and cap flexibility is the most important asset you and every other owner in your league has so it should be used in trade negotiations wisely. If you’ve properly valued each side of a trade, you should have a firm handle on whether you’re willing to cover part of the player salaries you’re trading away.
I like to use the time of year as a general guideline for how fiercely to hold on to cap space. Early in the season when there are so many transactions still to be made, I always hesitate to cover salaries or trade cap space. Late in the year however when I have a firm handle on my team’s fate and how much room I’ll need, it’s much easier to let it go. Giving away salary cap space a year or more out isn’t a consideration.
Trading Tip #2: Target Cap-Strapped Owners in Trade Negotiations
This is good advice no matter what time of year but is especially good advice for owners leading up to the free agent auction.
Most owners want to be active in the upcoming auction. When you get the feeling that’s the case, there are a few ways to creatively get them what they want including offering a lower paid player for a higher paid player that is more productive, offering to take an overpaid player off their hands (as long as they pay a portion of their salary) therefore giving you a reasonably priced asset, or taking their overpriced bad contract and a draft pick or picks for cap space – which is a tip in itself.