While the NFL revealed through a memo yesterday that the salary cap floor for the 2021 season would be raised from $175 million to $180 million, it could serve as a false hope about the final cap number coming in at something significantly higher than that. According to ESPN, that isn’t what should be expected, at least based on where things currently stand.
The NFL and NFLPA agreed to the salary cap floor of $175 million before the regular season began, a number that was nearly a $25 million reduction from where the 2020 cap would be. Since that agreement, a number of NFL teams at least had the opportunity to host a small number of fans. It was in light of review of that data that they decided to raise the cap floor.
“One source said Thursday that the revenue numbers on which the cap is annually based would have led to a salary cap of roughly $160 million per team, which would have been a disastrously large drop from the $198.2 million cap under which teams operated in 2020”, Dan Graziano wrote for ESPN yesterday.
In other words, the $175 million figure was already a significant compromise from where it could have been, and this is what we already heard last year. reportedly, the NFL wanted to take the full brunt of the financial impact of the pandemic in one year to get it over with, but the NFLPA wanted to take it by steps to avoid a mass purge.
“With the floor now set at $180 million, the cap will be roughly $20 million higher than it would have been otherwise”, Graziano goes on to write. “That $20 million or so will have to be ‘borrowed’ against future caps, and the manner in which that will happen is a subject of ongoing negotiations between the league and its players union”.
He cites one source as saying that “the best-case outcome” of future negotiations between the NFL and NFLPA over the 2021 salary cap “still likely wouldn’t raise this year’s cap beyond about $185 million”, and that is in line with the speculative reports that we have been hearing in recent weeks.
The wildcard is the state of future television contract deals and the subsequent rolling out of the regular season expansion to 17 games. It has been reported that the NFL is hoping to have these deals done before settling on the salary cap figure, so that is the glimmer of hope that the cap number could come in anywhere close to a flat figure approaching $200 million.