Earlier today, it was reported that the NFL sent out a memo informing teams that the salary cap for the 2021 season would be at least $180 million. This is significant, though not unexpected, given that the league and the NFLPA late last year had to agree in establishing a cap floor of $175 million.
The full memo pic.twitter.com/Jpuwu36LXu
— Mike Garafolo (@MikeGarafolo) February 18, 2021
While it could be some time yet before we have an official number for the cap, the memo is obviously good news in terms of in which direction it is heading, but the reality is that the factors that will shape the final number are far from settled.
In particular, the league is in the process of negotiating new broadcasting rights contracts, which are expected to be quite robust and to extend for a lengthy period of time. It has been previously reported that the completion on new broadcasting deals will be tied to the decision to expand the regular season to 17 games in time for the 2021 season.
Any positive upward movement as far as the cap is concerned is welcome news, however, for anybody whose task it is to put together a 53-man roster, and for whom their pay comes from said number.
This is obviously of special interest for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have one of the most complicated cap situations in the NFL, made much more so by the pandemic. Given that the salary cap in 2020 was over $198 million, such a significant regression was to be a major setback.
According to the memo, the decision to raise the cap floor by $5 million came after conversations held with the NFLPA regarding attendance figures for the 2020 season and projected numbers for the 2021 season.
As always, the final salary cap figure is determined jointly through discussions between the two parties, which remain ongoing, and as mentioned, numerous factors that will influence the finals number remain unsettled.
There have been a variety of reports about where the number will actually settle, speculation running from anywhere between $180 million to $200 million. We at least now know that it will be no less than the former figure.
In speaking to reporters yesterday, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said that the organization was operating under the assumption that the salary cap would be $185 million unless and until they hear otherwise. Their internal figures can now be updated with just a hint more breathing room.