Even as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to spread across the United States, professional sports are trying to return. The MLB began its season on July 23, with the NBA restarting on its heels for July 30. The NFL, meanwhile, has just reached a deal with its players to help ease the financial pressure of the pandemic.
The agreement will change the salary cap for years to come. This year will remain at $ 198 million; next season will be $ 175 million. 2022 and 2023 will change as well, although the league hopes the impact during those seasons will be less drastic across the league.
This is a big deal because teams in the league have built their rosters assuming the salary cap will keep going up. It has grown by $ 10 million per year for seven consecutive years. And before March, nothing seemed to indicate that it would stop.
Instead, the financial toll of the pandemic will be felt, especially if fans cannot attend games or if the season is shortened. Executives believe NFL revenues could drop to $ 4 billion this year. And if the league hadn’t done anything, the 2021 salary cap could have dropped by more than $ 80 million.
Imagine if your favorite team suddenly only had 60% of their cap trying to re-sign their current players or attract free agents. It would be incredibly difficult! As Over the Cap points out, 21 of the 32 teams have more than $ 150 million pledged for next season’s cap, with four teams surpassing the $ 200 million mark.
By spreading this financial impact over several seasons, the league hopes to mitigate some of the damage inflicted. He also confirms that the training camps will open as planned. And according to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, the goal is to end this year as usual with a Super Bowl champion.
We still don’t know what this year’s season will look like. Will teams travel normally or will their schedules change? What type of test will be performed? The games may have limited attendance or there may be no fans in the stands.
This agreement aims to remedy some of this uncertainty. For now, at least, it looks like teams won’t have to radically restructure their rosters – and that should reassure players, owners and fans.