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Pros And Cons: Should Players Want Their Contracts Tied To Percentage Of Salary Cap?

This is a topic that I’ve been sitting on for a while now, but without a whole lot else to write about at the moment, I figured it would be as good a time as any to raise it.

Last month I read some discussion sparked by a comment on Twitter from Jason Cole about the prospects of players tying their future deals to percentages of the salary cap. This doesn’t seem to be an altogether foreign notion, and yet it has never been done before in the NFL. So what are the potential benefits for the players and teams? What are the potential pitfalls?

The benefit for the players is obvious. You ensure that you will be making a consistent salary relative to the salary cap, which is currently in a state of inflation—significantly so—on an annual basis after he was artificially deflated several years ago after the lockout.

An article on the topic written by Mike Florio (everybody’s favorite, I know) points out that, for example, had Aaron Rodgers tied his contract to a percentage of the salary cap, then he would be slated to earn around $30 million this season.

Of course, it wouldn’t work out all that smoothly in practice. For one thing, in an era in which teams understand that the salary cap is spiking sharply upwards for the foreseeable future, they are not going to pay premium salaries on a yearly basis. Part of the incentive of doing a contract when it gets done is to reap the benefits of the salary cap rise in later years.

In fact, a player tying his salary to the cap based on a fixed percentage could be jeopardizing his job security down the line. If in three years’ time the salary cap is $30 million more than it was when the player signed the contract, he could be making significantly more than the team bargained for.

All of a sudden, that contract is going to look much more tempting to get rid of. And contrary to what Florio suggests in the article, it’s not always better to be tied to an under-market contract than to be released because of a high contract to test the market again. There are so many factors involved in a personal decision like that that that take is simply obtuse.

Also, kudos to myself for successfully pulling off a triple ‘that’ that actually makes sense, and adding a double ‘that’ while explaining it.

There is a suggestion that there is a slow push for players to tie their salaries to the cap, and as Florio notes, Darrelle Revis as far back as 2010 made the attempt to do this. But it’s not clear if this is immediately on the horizon seven years later.

It’s not even immediately clear to me if either players or teams would net benefit from this type of arrangement. There are pros and cons for both sides, and frankly I don’t know which side wins out.

What are your thoughts on the idea of players tying their contracts to a percentage of the salary cap?

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