The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to raise the salary cap floor, previously set at $175 million, to $180 million. This rumor had been circulating for about a week and our salary cap estimates on the site already took this raise into account. The salary cap in 2020 was $198.2 million and this would be the steepest drop in NFL history if it happened.
As for what triggered the raise who knows. Its such a minor bump that perhaps it was done simply to bring some added clarity to the salary cap situations for some teams. It may have simply been the NFL showing more willingness to borrow from the future or the NFLPA conceding a little on benefits.
The NFL is looking to move to 17 games this year which requires them to negotiate a new media contract if they want to have 17 games. That could be a standalone deal or extending one of their current deals I believe the way that works is if a new deal is negotiated they will recalculate the salary cap for any new money that comes into circulation from the TV contracts. If the league doesnt think that they will have a deal in place before they set the cap, maybe this is just taking into account a minimum expectation for a rise in rights fees which may or may not be in place before March 17. Considering how minor of a bump this is to come so late in the game maybe this is the reason for it.
Teams do need some clarity on the salary cap before they can proceed with certain moves with player contracts so any guidance helps. Usually teams have clarity in December so this is very different.
I have read a lot of speculation on this impacting budgets but at this point owners should know the impact Covid had and will have advised accordingly. The bigger issue is how do GMs fit it all into the salary cap.
Not only do they need to know this years cap but likely have some guidance on next years cap as well. If they know that the cap next year would jump back to $220 million this becomes a much easier situation to navigate. If next year is expected to be $190 million than all teams are doing is pushing problems from 2021 into 2022. Once the league informs people of payback schedules for the revenue losses and the TV deals are finalized will we likely have a normal league year.
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.