BY GEOFF HOBSON
Welcome to the changing world of NFL economics.
With daily moves crunching numbers around the league, the Bengals go into the season's final game with less room under the salary cap than some post-season teams.
According to figures culled from a variety of sources, the Bengals have less room to spend under the cap than three teams who are headed to the playoffs.
And if playoff teams were decided by 2000 salaries, the Bengals would be going. Their average salary of $1.19 million is 12th in the NFL, where the high is $1.47 million, the low is $862,200, and the average is just over $1 million.
The Bengals also spent more than the average team in 2000 when it came to salaries and bonuses. Cincinnati paid out $68.1 million, more than 14 other teams. NFL teams' spending ranged from $92.57 million to $55.1 million, and averaged $67.9 million.
The Bengals' total of actual money spent was $5.3 million over the salary cap this season, with pro-rated signing bonuses allowing up-front money to be counted in future years.
But that's a trend. The Bengals paid out $11.2 million over the cap in 1998 and $2.7 million last year, putting them $19.2 million "cash over cap," for the past three seasons.