- Jan 4, 2002
It's hard to find good sources for the minutiae, but my reading of things is they couldn't do that.
Basically they couldn't sign a deal that would put them over the cap should he report. They would have to wait until he'd forfeited enough game checks to sign players.
If I'm reading it correctly, the league will not approve a contract that would cause you to go over the cap. So if Watson is on the books for 35M, you don't get 35M in cap space back the day he doesn't report... you get a portion back each week as he forfeits checks.
I guess realistically though it might only be a 1 year issue, since you could roll the space over.
It's murky for sure. I see multiple references that a player on the "Did Not Report" list does not count against 90-man or 53-man rosters, but scant mentions of salary cap implications. There is this one:
SB NationReserve/Did Not Report: These players have either quit their teams or quit playing in the NFL and have not yet filed their retirement papers. The player’s salary doesn’t count against the cap, nor does the player count against the 90- or 53-man roster.