Salary cap spike not expected this year, or any year

Getty Images

When it comes to the salary cap, there’s a widespread belief that, once the NFL unlocks millions in new TV money in 2014, the team-by-team spending limit will spike in 2015.

That belief seems to be mistaken.

Per a source with extensive knowledge of the design and implementation of the cap, the formula will experience a “smoothing” in the coming years, with no one year resulting in a dramatic leap.  The thinking is that, if the cap shoots up dramatically from one year to the next, it won’t be fair to the players who signed a big contract in the year in which the cap was lower.

The smoothing phenomenon is more likely to unfold even in 2015 because, in 2012, money from future cap years was shifted to a year in which the cap was poised to drop, due to the revenue decreases from 2011, the year of the lockout.  (Even though only one game was missed during to the lockout, months of uncertainty affected fan and sponsor spending during the offseason shutdown.)

This robbing of Peter to pay Paul means that the expected growth will peter out when otherwise expected to spike.

As a result, teams that deal with current cap problems by pushing money into the future under the assumption that there will be extra space at some point could be positioning themselves for a perpetual cap purgatory.