The NFL is doing its best to make it seem as though everything is on schedule. The reports we keep hearing from the league side have them doing things like banning postgame jersey swaps and close contact, the kind of things you do if you have the actual details of games and so forth nailed down. That breezy public front has mostly kept the conversation focused on football and not on the logistical challenges the league faces, which is surely what Roger Goodell and the owners want.
All along, though, there have been signs that not everything is proceeding smoothly. With training camp a little over two weeks away, the NFL and the NFLPA have yet to agree on critical items for the year ahead. Those negotiations are bubbling to the surface now.
The NFLPA sent the NFL an economic counterproposal, per sources:— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 11, 2020
- No escrow of 2020 salaries
- Flat salary cap of $198.2M for 2021
- Spread revenue loss this year over 2022-2030 caps
- All fully guaranteed money paid even if games are canceled
Call scheduled for Monday.
The NFLPA is still trying to sort out the best ways to keep players safe, but they’re also trying to ensure the players don’t take a massive financial hit this year. The owners have traditionally had a larger slice of the revenue pie, and the NFLPA is in no mood for its charges to suddenly take a greater share of the burden when the league inevitably loses a lot of money this year. This is especially true because the owners can almost certainly take those hits without going under considering they make tens if not hundreds of millions in profit each year, and if the league doesn’t have a rainy day fund after shoveling TV money into a vault for decades, that would be sort of incredible.
The question becomes how the two sides hammer out something that is appealing to both owners and players. As Pelissero notes, the NFL is trying to essentially put a short term hit on players by placing a significant percentage of their salaries into escrow, but the NFLPA doesn’t want the bulk or all of that hit to be weathered by the guys who actually are playing the game.
The NFL and NFLPA are on the same page that they don’t want the salary cap to plummet in 2021. It’s about how they account for a multibillion-dollar revenue loss. NFL proposed 35% of player salaries in escrow; NFLPA doesn’t want one year of players to take the whole hit.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) July 11, 2020
I’m guessing we won’t come out of this call on Monday with a real resolution, but hopefully the two sides will make progress. As impossible as a full NFL season feels at the moment, with COVID-19 cases rising and the U.S. now making up a full quarter of all reported cases and deaths worldwide, we’re all hoping the show can somehow go on. They have plenty of ground to make up if that’s going to happen, but getting the financials right will take care of much of it, with the NFLPA seemingly doing most of the heavy lifting on player safety and wellness right now.