Significant issues indeed remain between the NFL and NFL Players Association as management and labor struggle to resolve all issues that need to be resolved before pandemic football can be played. All are equally significant in this moment, but one carries universal significance: Money.
Tom Pelissero of NFL Media reports that the NFL has received from the NFLPA a proposal regarding the economic issues relating to the handling of the financial losses in 2020 and the impact of those losses on future salary caps.
The NFLPA wants none of this year’s salaries to be placed in escrow, a flat salary cap for 2021 ($198.2 million), payment of all fully-guaranteed money even if games are canceled, and (most significantly) an agreement to spread any 2020 revenue losses over nine seasons, from 2022 through 2030.
As PFT reported last night, the league and the union will resume direct discussions on Monday, with the goal of getting all issues resolved by Wednesday or Thursday.
Under the CBA, the 2020 player salaries are locked in, and the two sides agree that all money is due and payable the moment the teams play one game. If any games are canceled, the two sides acquire an express duty to bargain regarding the impact of lost revenues on the next year’s salary cap. (It’s a redundant obligation, given that the two sides annually negotiate the salary cap.)
Neither side should want the cap to dip in 2021. Teams have players under contract at specific salary levels, and many teams would have to do major surgery to the roster to comply with a dramatically shrunken cap. Thus, it makes sense to smooth the damage from 2020 over years in which there won’t be a pandemic, there will be new TV deals, and there will be a likely explosion of legalized sports betting and the cash money that comes from it.