Report: NFL, union talking cap, possible pay cuts

Field Level Media

June 02, 2020 at 9:37 pm.

The NFL and the players union are discussing various alternative plans regarding the salary cap to limit the impact of expected revenue losses caused by the coronavirus pandemic, NFL Network reported Tuesday.

With the expectation of limited numbers or no fans in attendance at games this season — along with the specter of potential canceled games — the league’s revenue is expected to decline, perhaps significantly. The 2021 salary cap is based off of revenue this season, making for a potentially large decline in cap space.

Per NFL Network, the league and NFLPA know they must negotiate an alternative to avoid a sharp drop in cap space. Negotiations have not yet begun, and no deadline is being set before the start of the regular season. There is a hope of reaching an agreement before training camps open in late July, per the report.

The focus is currently on calculating potential losses to help guide priorities.

Among the possibilities being considered are borrowing from expected future television deals, which many have forecasted will cause a cap spike in 2022. Per the report, neither players nor teams want a drop in the cap and then a sharp spike a year or two later, as it would make long-term finances and extensions for players difficult to plan.

Another option would be for the union to agree to giving back some money this year, which would likely come via trimming base salaries. The report added it’s unclear how much of a cut the league would seek, or what structure players would accept.

Both the league and NFLPA declined comment on NFL Network’s report. However, NFL Network reported sources informed of the union’s thinking said the organization “would be amenable to negotiating with the league to smooth out the salary cap as much as possible.”

Base salaries are paid weekly during the season. Most other forms of payment to players — signing, roster and workout bonuses — have already been paid.

The league has continued to plan for the season to start as scheduled on Sept. 10, though it is planning for alternatives. Some states have said they will permit fans at sporting events with significantly reduced capacity limits.

The cap is set at $198.2 million for 2020.