For years, we’ve been saying that the NFLPA should be insisting on the sale of the Thursday Night Football package to the highest bidder. After years of hoarding the games in the hopes of propping up an in-house network that never has performed at the level the NFL hoped, the league finally has decided to export a chunk of the previously exclusive games.
The good news for the players and the teams is that, by moving eight of the games to CBS, a lot more money will flow through the cash register.
The initial bids reportedly fell in the high $200 million range. If CBS ultimately paid $300 million for the package, that money will dump directly into the bucket from which the salary cap is calculated.
Offsetting that amount will be the lost advertising revenue for NFL Network, given that the games will be shown both on NFLN and CBS. Few companies will spend as much to roll commercials during breaks of games that no longer are exclusive to the league-owned broadcast operation.
Still, even if the net gain is a mere $250 million — and assuming half of the money goes to the players — that’s nearly $4 million per team in extra 2015 cap space.
That bump won’t happen in 2014. Each year’s cap comes from the prior year’s revenue. So the found money coming from the new CBS deal will find its way into the spending budget for all teams comes 2015.