In the past couple of days, it’s been discussed that the NFL is currently facing a bit of a financial crisis. The COVID-19 pandemic won’t upset the start of the regular season. However, the odds of teams playing to full stadiums of fans? That doesn’t seem likely to happen. As a result, experts are projecting a significant revenue loss. Something that would drastically impact the 2021 salary cap. That is why Dan Graziano of ESPN reports that owners will go to the Chicago Bears and other players about discussions to address the situation.
Keep in mind the league just got done hammering out a bitterly contested Collective Bargaining Agreement to avoid a work stoppage in 2021. This was right before the coronavirus struck. The players narrowly voted to pass it at all. So one can imagine they won’t be wild about the idea of making any sort of financial concessions. Already there is anticipated tension about having those talks.
Which is why the league believes, as one ownership source put it recently, “If revenues are going to be drastically reduced because of the pandemic, there’s going to have to be a negotiation about how to share the pain. And that’s not going to be an easy discussion.”…
…”There is not going to be a conversation,” a source on the players’ side said, “about reducing our shares of revenue.”
The NFLPA held a conference call Tuesday evening with its executive board. A source said the issue of the owners wanting to discuss potential revenue implications came up in the call, but that the players agreed they were prioritizing safe-return-to-work issues at the moment and not prepared to discuss financial ones.
Chicago Bears players will have some tough decisions to make
Obviously nobody wants this situation to happen but it’s reality. As of now, the projections for where the 2021 cap could fall are fairly drastic. Perhaps upwards of a $28-30 million plunge from where it currently sits. Lots of teams will find themselves in difficult financial straights, forcing them to make cost-cutting measures.
“It stands to reason, then, that significant revenue losses in 2020 would lead to a reduction in the 2021 salary cap — possibly a big one. This year’s cap is $198.2 million per team. If the NFL had to play an entire season without fans, sources estimate the cap could drop into the $170 million range”
A lot of players could find themselves out of a job if that ends up happening, especially higher priced veterans. Names like Kyle Fuller, Akiem Hicks, Eddie Goldman, Bobby Massie, and Charles Leno would all be on the chopping block. Obviously the team would much prefer to avoid that.
The good news is there might be some options that could prevent the cap from taking such a dip. It will take sacrifices from both sides though. Nobody is looking forward to discussing what those will be. Pay cuts? No performance-based pay? Front-loading TV deals? All are on the table and could help.