This trick allows you to sign any player, no matter how big their default salary is, to a three year low-salary contract. You must do this before starting a franchise. First, edit the player's attributes from whatever they are currently down so that their overall rating is exactly 75. Depending on the position, you can achieve this by simply lowering one or sometimes two of their attributes. Make sure to make a note what the original rating was so you can store the value later. Once all players you are editing are at an overall rating of 75, release the players to free agency. After releasing each player (you may have to sign some "no-name" players to your roster to maintain roster requirements, but you can release those temporary players later), back out of the roster management screen to the main menu. Select the option to "Continue without saving" (this may not be necessary). Reenter the roster management screen and select "Free Agents." Go to whichever team you want to sign the players to and start looking for your players. You should notice that their new requested salaries and contract lengths will be for three years at a very low salary (depending on the position). After signing all of your players back (and released the temporary players), go back to editing the players and return them to the original ratings. Note: According to the manual, your players will become upset if they feel they are being underpaid for how good they are performing; you will more than likely have to re-sign some contracts throughout the year, but with the cap room you will save.
-Note: This trick only works on contracts that have completely expired. During the off-season, rather than resigning your players, edit them. Change their position to something that will lower their overall ratings. For example, move a DT to a TE; or make your QB a WR. Then, resign the player. He will play poorly at his new position, making him extremely cheap. Not all player positions can be changed, but a lot of them can -- especially the higher dollar positions. After you resign the player, move him back to his original position. His overall rating will return without any negative affects. For example, it is possible to resign LeRoy Glover to a six year deal worth $1.5 million with no signing bonus at the age of 32, with an overall rating of 97 by moving him to TE.
-Whenever you must re-sign a player in franchise mode, go to player management and edit the player's position to something that would lower his stats. Re-sign him, then change him back to his original position. For example, make your QB a WR, and sign him. This also works for free agents, but not for draft picks. You cannot edit draftees until they are signed.
-To keep a good player under the salary cap for a long time, when signing players, sign them for seven years. Give them nothing for a signing bonus. Give them the minimum they will accept for the seven year contract. Your player will then have a seven year contract with the same salary for those seven years. The salary cap will go up each year but their salary will remain the same, so you will actually have more room under the cap for your other players over the following years. When drafting a rookie, also sign him for seven years. Give him $70,000 for bonus and give him the minimum for the contract. By doing this, you will also save on the rookies for a long time. Sometimes your players will holdout but it is worth it in the long run. If you get fed up with your highly paid player or get a better one cheaper, you will be charged nothing in penalty the following season.