Salary cap most likely won’t hit $185 million

Sport

When the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed recently to increase the minimum salary cap from $175 million to $180 million, the adjustment sparked speculation that the final number would be higher than the previously-expected limit of $180 million. Per a league source with knowledge of the situation, it’s possible that the number will be more than $180 million — but the number most likely won’t reach $185 million.

The final number for the salary cap, per the source, could land in the range of $182 million to $183 million.

The adjustment from $175 million resulted from aggressive lobbying by teams that would have had a hard time getting their 2021 cap number down to $175 million. Although plenty of teams will be doing plenty of work to clear plenty of cap space even if it lands in the range of $182 million, the source said that a $175 million cap would have sparked much more activity — and would have flooded the market with veteran players released by teams desperate to comply.

The teams that would have benefited from the chaos resulting from a $175 million cap aren’t thrilled by the fact that it will be higher. Most of those teams anticipated the financial losses early in the pandemic and planned accordingly for the impact on the 2021 cap. They believe that the teams that failed to properly plan shouldn’t be given an escape hatch.

They’re instead getting partial relief, as the losses from 2020 are spread over multiple years. Per the source, the TV deals (if they’re finalized) won’t change much. Neither will full attendance at the 2021 games, because the 2021 cap calculations already will be based on the assumption that stadiums will be at 75-percent capacity for the season. If the number lands in the range of 90 or 95 percent, it won’t push much more money into 2021.