Cap floor, not rookie deals, should be the focus of next CBA for players

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Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier wants players and teams to be able to negotiate new contracts whenever they want. When it comes to enhancements to the labor deal, Shazier should be taking up a different cause.

Shazier, and all players, should be pushing for an increase in the spending floor from 89 percent. Currently, teams can pocket 11 cents of every salary cap dollar, on a rolling four-year average.

It’s hardly a small number. With the 2017 cap at $167 million, teams can squirrel away $18.37 million, each.

Besides, Shazier shouldn’t really worry about what rookies will or won’t make. By the time the current CBA expires, Shazier will have spent seven seasons in the NFL; any enhancement to what rookies make or when they can make it won’t help him.

That attitude actually helped persuade veterans to agree to the rookie wage scale six years ago. With busts sucking millions out of the system, less cash was available for veterans. The only problem is that, by holding down what all highly-drafted rookies make, the great ones have a harder time pushing the market higher for the rest of the players at a given position because the cap number in the last year of the rookie deal isn’t so ridiculously high (leading to a 20-percent greater franchise tender) that it results either in an enormous contract from his current team or a shot at an even bigger deal on the market.

Then there’s the fact that Shazier currently is eligible for a new contract. But since the Steelers won’t do new deals for non-quarterbacks who have more than two years left on their current contracts, Shazier will still have to wait another year — regardless of whatever the CBA does or doesn’t allow.

So Shazier should be banging on the door of Art Rooney to get a new deal now, and Shazier should be banging the drum for an increase in the total dollars that teams have to spend, individually and collectively.

15 responses to “Cap floor, not rookie deals, should be the focus of next CBA for players

  1. Browns were 50 mil under the cap last year so yeah, the floor should be addressed.

  2. Indirectly there is a salary floor.
    The Jets were forced to spend by it back in 2015.

    They way it works is a team must spend a certain amount of the cap, averaged over 5 years. So a team can underspend one year, and over spend the next and it smooths out.
    A team can underspend by 10MM every single year.
    But if they underspend by too much then after a 5 year rolling average they have to pay the players the difference between their minimum payment and what they actually spent.

    So the floor is there, its just less obvious.
    And the players still get paid according to the CBA.

  3. Proper cap management requires that some $$$ be kept in reserve for the season. Suppose that the Patriots spend 100% of the cap to start the season. The third game, Brady gets injured and on IR. Fourth game, Garrapolo gets the same.
    Sixth game the third stringer gets injured. What happens? Patriots have no quarterback and no money to sign one. So, Edelman or Gronk plays qb for the rest of the season. That is what this article seems to ignore.
    Any businessman has to plan for the worst scenario. How fast can signings during the season eat up the alleged $18MM? Pretty fast if a team suffers significant injuries.

  4. It is a matter of give and take – perhaps the Union gives up that there should be more both preseason and in season padded practices and teams should be allowed to extend rookies a couple of years earlier. I always hated the fact that rookies would be paid way too much without any proof under the old CBA. I like the lack of drama with respect to rookie contracts but some tinkering is probably required and Shazier is probably correct. Let the teams pay their good picks earlier if they are performing – because everyplayer is just one devastating hit from becoming another TV expert analyst.

  5. I’ll never understand all this concern over player pay. The larger profile players make millions already, lower profile players still rake in high 6 digit figures. And they get paid for everything they do. People talk about risks like “one devastating injury” and “concussions”, but There are thousands of career besides football who have the exact same risks and no one seems to care that those people get taken care of the same way (construction workers and firefighters come to mind as prime examples). As for one devastating injury? I drive to work everyday, I also drive home from work everyday. My career could just easily be ended in one devastating car accident … as is the case for most of us (and we don’t get paid at all during that risky activity); should our companies pay up for something as unpredictable as that too? Give me a break people! These players all chose their profession knowing full well what the risks to their health would be. The get paid plenty enough already.

  6. The rookie deals are the key. The union got caught trying to screw the rookies over foolishly thinking dollars denied rookies would end up benefiting the current rank-and-file union members. Instead, teams used those extra dollars on star players, ignored most all the veteran non-stars and filled in the team entirely with cheap labor still on their rookie deals. Only way to stop that practice is to eliminate the cheap rookie deals. Teams might still go with the younger guys but at least it wouldn’t be an automatic cost-savings every time they do so like it is right now.

  7. Having the floor be on a rolling average the way it is now is fine. Instituting a hard floor that must be met every year will ruin rebuilding teams. Look at the Browns. They seem to have a plan in place and look like, down the road, they will be a good team. But think about if there’s a minimum spend they have to hit every season. Their roster is not good enough to warrant a lot of big contracts, but in order to hit this minimum spend you’re proposing they would have to give out huge chunks of money to bad players, limiting their ability and flexibility to improve in the future.

  8. So is he looking out for future NFL players or is this a shining example of a current player that doesn’t understand the dynamics, i.e. higher rookie scale = less money for veterans, like him?

  9. There can be more than one focus. I agree the floor should be addressed but I firmly believe they should also go for shorter rookie contracts. Given how short careers are, being able to lock a player up, preventing him from seeing the free market, for 7 years is too long. Of course that assumes a team option is invoked and franchise tags are used. Rookie contracts should max out at 3 years, that’s enough time to get a good read on who a player is at the NFL level.

  10. There should be no cap floor at all – teams should be able to spend as little as they want and to hire people at a rate that matches such cheapness. Teams that want to make money by losing should have every right to do so. And there should be no increase in the cap ceiling since 11 percent is not much to start with before you start taking out costs of doing business.

    This Pittsturd Rusty Nail player needs to get a life.

  11. The NFLPA is a Union. They should be doing what is best for their members. The majority of their members. The stars of the league are already well compensated. Their focus should be on the bottom 40 players on the rosters. They should raise player minimums , and forget about the guys who are at the top of the pay scale.

  12. @laserw

    Omg no. The cap is AFTER the revenues are already split. The owners already get 53% of the total revenues. The salary cap is based on the 47% that at goes to the players. The owners right now only have to spend 89% of the 47% piece attributed to the players.

    Man did the players get their a*% kicked in this CBA.

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