According to a report by NFL Media’s Ian Rapoport, Mike Garafolo and Judy Battista, the NFL and NFL Player’s Association are preparing for negotiations regarding how to handle the salary cap going forward from 2020.
Even if the NFL season is able to continue as planned in 2020 despite the COVID-19 pandemic, there are likely to be major revenue losses if stadiums have reduced or zero attendance. That could result in a steep drop in cap space in 2021, which both the NFL and NFLPA would like to avoid.
Per NFL Media’s report, if fans weren’t able to attend games at all this season, that could mean anywhere from a $40-$80 million drop in the cap from lost revenue.
If some fans can attend, the losses would be less drastic, but the Athletic’s Michael Lombardi believes teams should start budgeting for the cap to be about $30 million lower than it is now.
The two sides are researching what potential revenue loss could look like and are expected to try to agree on contingency plans before the start of training camp in late July. The two sides will need to discuss every contingency for how the 2020 season could play out ahead of time.
NFL Media writes the goal will be to smooth out the cap, potentially borrowing from future increases that are expected from new TV deals and potential new sources of revenue from gambling.
Other proposals include eliminating performance-based pay temporarily or potentially cutting base salary from players in 2020. While that’s likely to be opposed by the NFLPA, it could be seen as preferable to teams needing to cut swathes of players to shed salary.
Another issue the two sides will negotiate over is what happens if the virus necessitates cutting the season short. Players would likely still want their full base salaries while teams would prefer to minimize their liability if they lose more revenue from canceled games.
We’ll have more on the NFL’s salary cap and the 2020 season as the news is available.