Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that the NFL informed teams on Thursday that the salary cap will be a minimum of $180 million for the 2021 season.
“This is not the final Salary Cap for the 2021 League year, which will be set following review of final 2020 revenue figures and other audit and accounting adjustments. This agreement simply increases the minimum 2021 Salary Cap by $5 million per club, from $175 million to $180 million,” the memo states.
The expectation has been that the cap will end up somewhere around $180-181 million when all is said and done.
However, one factor that could help is the upcoming new media deals that are expected to be extraordinarily lucrative. The NFL also has the right to expand to a 17-game regular season, but a new media contract would have to be finalized before the NFL officially adds the 17th game to the regular season in 2021.
The league is reportedly in negotiations right now and there has been talk that agreements with some networks could be in place at some point in the coming weeks.
Every dollar will help teams who are expected to face a major challenge adjusting to the salary cap falling for the first time in decades due to revenue losses from the pandemic. It was at $198 million in 2020 and had risen around $10 million a year for most of the past decade.
Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said earlier in the week that teams may not have a final salary cap figure until “hours before the start of the league year” March 17.
Even if the cap ends up at or around $185 million per year, there’s going to be a cap crunch this offseason that will likely result in some notable cap casualties. Beyond that, it could make for a tough free-agent market.
We’ll have more regarding the salary cap as the news is available.