In June, I saw how exhausting it was for Brett and Michael to cover the taffy pull that was negotiations between MLB and the MLBPA as the two sides worked (I use that term loosely) toward finding an agreement on a season.
But my hope was that the public bickering over money would be seen by the NFL — especially with training camps scheduled to open in July. WELP, we are now in July. And while animosity on the football side of things is nowhere near where it was in the baseball world, my fear is that we’ll get there.
I fully expect that the NFL’s economics will be a hot topic, especially after seeing this tweet:
DeMaurice Smith now addressing potential COVID impact on 2021 salary cap. Says either cap could drop by as much as $70M per team next year, or they can negotiate with league to spread out the decline over several coming years. Union clearly prefers the latter option.
— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) July 17, 2020
We discussed this possibility in June, pointing out how we should probably expect a significant reduction of the cap based on projected lost revenue. Additionally, we pointed out – that while the Bears weren’t in the worst position from a cap-health perspective – a large enough reduction could lead to the team squeezing out some key veterans on higher salaries. Perhaps this is one reason as to why Allen Robinson isn’t anticipating hearing anything when it comes to extension negotiations right now. Clearly, there is much to navigate if the NFLPA’s top executive is discussing the cap dropping by as much as $70 million per team in 2021.
Perhaps the two sides can agree on a spread over a number of years. I don’t imagine the players want to take a one-year hit. Nor do I believe the league will want to handcuff teams or minimize the free agency/player-movement period that has become a made-for-TV event.
As a reminder, the salary cap is based on revenue sharing. And that projected salary cap numbers for seasons down the road are based on estimated future revenue shares. The league’s cap number has grown by at least $10 million in each of the last seven seasons. More revenues, more cap space. But the COVID-19 pandemic is projected to throw a wrench into things. Because even if we get football games, teams are expected to lose a fraction of revenue based on limited attendance of fans at games (if any are allowed at all). And as we pointed out earlier, revenues and cap space work hand-in-hand.
In June, I knew this was something to keep an eye on down the line. I guess we’ve now reached that point.