Indianapolis – The best numbers NFL general managers see at the Combine may belong not to a player in the 40-yard dash or the number of bench press reps, but to the salary cap. After earlier reports that the 2014 number could grow to $130 million, ESPN reported on Saturday that it is projected to be $132 million. The final cap numbers will be decided and distributed to the teams before the start of free agency next month.

Starting in 2011, the first year of the current CBA, the cap was $120 million and it barely went up in the two years that followed, hitting $120.6 million in 2012 and $123 million last season. So the anticipated jump of $9 million is appreciable.

And appreciated.

“It’s been pretty flat for the last few years,” Giants general manager Jerry Reese said. “It’s hard to maintain a quality roster with a flat salary cap.”

So what kind of a difference does $9 million make? Well, it allows some flexibility for cap-heavy contracts like Eli Manning’s and Antrel Rolle’s. The Giants won’t have to push some of their money into the future with an extension if they don’t want to (and it appears that they don’t). And it could make teams like the Giants buyers in the first wave of free agency.

“It’s not a lot higher, but it’s better than nothing,” Reese said. “Anything is better than flat. It makes a difference to me.”

More football news