The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The next several seasons will see the salary cap remain stagnant as a result of the economic losses tied to Covid-19.
Explanation: The projected per-team economic impact of the loss of revenue related to Covid-19—chiefly from the absence of fans—is roughly $70 million. That’s far too big a hit to try to address in one season, so the NFL and NFLPA could adopt a strategy to spread the cap hit over a period of years instead, with one option being to keep the cap flat until the economic hardships have been addressed.
This makes too much sense not to happen, and the reports out of the NFL about their plans to address the issues feel like posturing, at best. This is the obvious solution, rather than any absurd notion of dropping the cap by some $70 million, which would decimate just about every team in the league’s roster, forcing them to release high-priced players.
Presuming that there will be a significant economic impact and that it is determined that it will be addressed within the salary cap, this is the only reasonable solution, because a knee-jerk reaction affecting one season would throw the scales out of whack, and do so needlessly.
The NFL reportedly regretted adopting a flat-cap approach following the uncapped season prior to the 2011 Collective Bargaining Agreement being struck, a policy that the NFLPA was in favor of relative to the alternatives. The league doesn’t typically fail to get its way twice.
As we have seen often enough in debates between the league and the union, the NFL usually gets its way when it counts. They may be more likely to force a prorated reduction in salary of current contracts for 2021, or for multiple seasons, before they take away cap space.
But the economic impact of Covid-19 is going to be quickly offset in the near future. In 2021, the league is eligible to expand to a 17-game season, and extra postseason games will be in place. Huge new television contracts will have a big impact on the cap.