Welp, I Guess We'll Have to Keep an Eye on the NFL's Economics

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Welp, I Guess We’ll Have to Keep an Eye on the NFL’s Economics

Chicago Bears

In seeing how Brett and the BN Cubs gang has covered the taffy pull that is the MLB vs. MLBPA return to action negotiations, I realize how exhausting the conversation can be.

Players want to play. Fans want to watch. Owners want to limit their losses by any means necessary. I get it. From all angles. Even if my preference is to get players on the field (or on the ice, or on the courts) as soon as possible, so fans like you and I can soak in the entertaining goodness. But also, there is a need to keep tabs on the game’s economics.

NFL insiders Ian Rapoport, Mike Garafolo, and Judy Battista reported on important negotiations comping up for the NFL and NFLPA. And at the gut of the conversation is the league’s salary cap. Unlike Major League Baseball, which is trying to iron out negotiations to start up a season that would already be halfway home on a different timeline, the NFL has time on its side and has spent time watching how baseball has mishandled the conversation (so they should have a good idea of how to avoid repeating those particular mistakes).

Without doing too deep of a dive on the big-picture stuff, we must understand that the salary cap is based on revenue sharing. And that and projected salary cap numbers for the future are based on estimated future revenue shares. Prior to the COVID-19 outbreak, revenues figured to be booming. And why not? The league has seen revenues grow annually, just as the salary cap has grown by at least $10 million for each of the last seven seasons. Growing revenues, growing cap space, growing salaries. What a concept.

But locally – and in a post-COVID 19 world – this is worth keeping tabs on with regards to the Bears.

OverTheCap.com’s Jason Fitzgerald ranked the NFL’s teams based on 2021 salary cap health after creating a formula that considered projected cap space, potential cuts, contract restructures, and 2021 free agents. The Bears are with the Cowboys, Falcons, Eagles, Raiders, Steelers, Chiefs, and Saints in “Tier 4” – the collection of teams considered to have cap troubles – which isn’t where any team wants to find themselves.

To be clear, the Bears aren’t in the worst shape, with the Raiders, Steelers, Chiefs, and Saints ranking beneath them. And that they have an estimated $24,564,438 in estimated cap space, $71,372,643 in max cap space with cuts, and $74,295,808 in max cap space with potential restructures paints a picture that things might not be all that bad. But we should probably take into consideration a potential Allen Robinson extension and some other players who are on one-year deals whose spots might to be replaced with new players as soon as the 2021 season.

But more importantly, we must consider how a significant reduction of the cap (because of lost revenue, which probably should be expected at this point) could impact the Bears, who are already in a *relatively* tenuous position, vis à vis the other teams in the league. And indeed, a big enough reduction could push the team to a point where veterans could be squeezed out to make cap space. And the Bears have a number of key veterans who might fit the bill there if push cones to shove. So while it isn’t something to be terribly alarmed about right now, it’s something to keep an eye on down the line.

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Author: Luis Medina

Luis Medina is a Writer at Bleacher Nation, and you can find him on Twitter at@lcm1986.