In the latest proposals the NFL has asked the players to accept a $175 million salary cap in 2021 unless revenue drop is not as severe as anticipated. In return the balance of the shortage would hit the cap over the next three years plus the NFL has made various concessions on other items including opt outs.
How bad would a $175M cap impact the NFL teams? Here is a quick look at what every teams cap space would look like if they were able to carryover their current estimated cap room.
|Team||Est Cap Space @ $175M|
At this point in time this would be the rosiest picture for teams. The above estimates dont include the cap charges for unsigned rookies and dont adjust the carryover numbers for the change from the top 51 to to the regular season accounting numbers. When you factor those in the number of teams over the cap should go from 8 to 13.
The average cap space next year would be in the ballpark of $15 million per team which are basically unheard of numbers in this day and age. The last few years the average cap room is between $30 and $40 million around free agency.
If they agree to this I would expect a number of mid level veterans to feel the brunt of this during this summer and next winter. Rookies, especially 1st round picks, may see their extension talks get pushed for a year. The other way teams will deal with this is likely to push money into the future via restructures with their secured veteran players who have high base salaries and use those 2022 and 2023 years as ways to “buy on credit” in 2021. Free agency would also be interesting as players and teams could opt for cheaper short term deals to bide time until the money gets higher in the future.
A drop like this is not surprising though I think the NFL should have the ability to deal with a flat cap or flat cap+ standard raise situation in 2021 and/or 2022 rather than this kind of drop. Any type of drop is going to really unfairly put the burden on a smaller group of veteran players. Superstars are going to be cut proof, rookies are all on set salaries and thus also cut proof, and minimum salary vets cant sign for any cheaper. Its that 10-15% of the NFL that doesnt fit into those three categories that are going to get hammered. Is that fair? I don’t think it is, but that may be what happens.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.