Bengals find out spending limit as NFL sets 2017 salary cap

Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is one of 16 free agents the Bengals have heading into the start of the new league year March 9, and Wednesday the NFL announced the salary cap for 2017 will be $167 million. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

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Cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick is one of 16 free agents the Bengals have heading into the start of the new league year March 9, and Wednesday the NFL announced the salary cap for 2017 will be $167 million. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)

The NFL announced Wednesday the salary cap for the 2017 season will be $167 million, up $13 million from last year.

The Cincinnati Bengals, according to spotrac.com, have $131.7 million invested in 2017 salaries and approximately $6 million they can roll over from last year, leaving the team with nearly $41 million to work with when trying to re-sign their 16 free agents and those from other teams when the new league year begins March 9.

The Bengals don’t typically use the rollover dollars, and part of the remaining $35 million will be allocated to salaries for the 11 draft picks and 10 practice squad players, along with money set aside for replacing inevitable injuries.

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The team estimates it will have closer to $15 million to spend in free agency, which makes it unlikely the Bengals will re-sign their big three of left tackle Andrew Whitworth, right guard Kevin Zeitler and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick.

It also means the Bengals won’t be breaking from their norm and making a big splash in free agency by targeting players from other teams, opting instead of replenish the roster with the 11 drafts picks they have after receiving four compensatory picks last week.

“I’m bullish on the future,” director of player personnel Duke Tobin said Wednesday at the Combine. “Our core is right in the prime of their career. We’ve got a talented core and a confident core and they belong and they know they belong. So we fully anticipate a rebound and to be back in the mix next year.

“We’ve got 11 draft choices,” he added. “We’re going to make use of those. We’re going to increase the young talent on our team. We’re excited to get those extra picks. The draft is what we use as the lifeblood of our organization so we’re putting a lot of focus in this as we do for the whole scouting season.”

RELATED: Tobin says McCaron trade will require a big offer

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ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 23: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns stands on the sideliens in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on November 23, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 23: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns stands on the sideliens in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on November 23, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

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ATLANTA, GA - NOVEMBER 23: Josh Gordon #12 of the Cleveland Browns stands on the sideliens in the first half against the Atlanta Falcons at Georgia Dome on November 23, 2014 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Scott Cunningham/Getty Images)

Receiver reinstatement

Cleveland Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon is applying for reinstatement again, according to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter.

Schefter quoted Gordon’s business manager, Michael Johnson, in his report.

“Josh is living with me and is in the best place mentally that he has been in dating back years before entering the NFL,” Johnson said. “He has taken the proper steps to treat his issues and has followed a very strict protocol that the league and our team here has laid out for him. He’s also in the best shape of his life and feels even better than he did when he had his breakout year in 2013. This will be a special year for Josh and we are all very proud of the way he has taken the necessary steps to turn his life around.”

NFL commissioner reinstated Gordon from an indefinite suspension on a conditional basis in July, with one of the conditions being that he had to remain sober through the first four games of the season. Gordon checked into rehab in September, at which point head coach Hue Jackson said the team was to "move on."

“What’s best for our football team is that we move forward and move on,” Jackson said in September. “He’s not going to be with us and we wish him well, but we’re moving forward. We’re going to move on.’

“Obviously Josh is not here and doing what he thinks he needs to for his life which we support 100 percent and after today, today is really the last Josh Gordon comment I want to make about that,” Jackson added.

Cleveland still owns the rights to Gordon through the 2017 season.

Steelers signing

The Pittsburgh Steelers resigned linebacker James Harrison to a two-year contract worth a reported $3.5 million.

Harrison, who will turn 39 in May, has contemplated retirement each of the last four offseasons before deciding to return. He recorded five of his 81.5 career sacks in 2016 while leading Pittsburgh to the AFC North title.

A five-time Pro Bowler, Super Bowl MVP and 2008 Defensive Player of the Year, Harrison has played 13 of his 14 seasons in Pittsburgh since going undrafted out of Kent State. He played one season in the Bengals in 2013 before rejoining the Steelers.

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