Since the new labor deal became official in August 2011, the NFLPA has attempted to increase the team-by-team salary cap now, even if it means borrowing against future cap increases in order to make it happen.
And that effort comes from a fairly basic motivation. As a source with direct knowledge of the dynamics explained it to PFT, the union wants the players who fought through the lockout to realize some salary-cap gains during their remaining careers.
The recent move to delay performance-based pay for two years helps accomplish that goal, since the bulk of those checks will go to young players who are drawing low salaries and playing significant snaps. Players who entered the league in 2011 and thereafter will get less now, so that the players still in the league from 2011 and previously can draw salaries from a higher cap.
The practice suddenly is being sold as a way to protect players from themselves financially, keeping money away from them for two years (with no interest) so that they’ll have available at a later date money they may have squandered now.
Still, the young players who rack up large allotments of performance-based pay will most likely still be in the league when the delayed payments come. For most players exiting the league after a season or two as a backup, the lag results in two extra years of NFL money at a relatively small amount, since the performance-based pay is driven by playing time.
Regardless, these maneuverings do nothing to create the perception that the players got the better end of the 2011 labor deal. Absent dramatic cap increases soon, that perception won’t change.