Will a player ever get paid based on a percentage of the salary cap?

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In theory, it’s such a simple concept. In practice, it’s been impossible for any player to get it.

To protect a player who signs a long-term deal against the contract becoming obsolete, the player gets a guaranteed percentage of the salary cap in every year of the contract.

Multiple teams have tried to get that term. A decade ago, former Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis tried to get that term. The team refused. Quarterback Kirk Cousins, while under the franchise tag in Washington, tried to get that term. The team refused.

Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson has tried to get that term. The team refused.

It’s unknown whether Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes tried to get a percentage of the salary cap. Before committing to a 12-year contract, he should have insisted on it. And if Mahomes can’t get that term, can anyone?

Here’s what it will take: A franchise quarterback or rare talent at another position hitting the open market unfettered, having three or more viable candidates, will have to insist on the term as essentially a price of admission to the auction. Even then, there’s no guarantee it will happen.

Many believe that the NFL’s Management Council doesn’t want to cross this bridge, because it removes the cost certainty that otherwise exists in every year of a player’s contract. Thus, even though it’s a permissible device, teams aren’t doing it. (Technically, if the Management Council is preventing teams from doing it, that’s collusion. But good luck proving it.)

Eventually, it needs to happen. It already should have happened, especially with the Mahomes deal. Maybe it will eventually happen, if a franchise quarterback refuses to accept long-term offers, plays out his rookie deal and a couple of franchise tags, and then dictates his terms to the cluster of clubs clamoring to sign him.

10 responses to “Will a player ever get paid based on a percentage of the salary cap?

  1. I just imagine NFL GMs reading these articles and laughing amongst themselves before getting on with their day

  2. Here’s the other side of the coin that has not been brought up: In theory, on a “down cap year” the salary would go down in conjunction with the cap. I actually don’t see the risk for the owners. It actually would reduce the risk, in the case of say, hmmm.. a Pandemic with loss of revenue…

  3. We don’t know that Mahomes “couldn’t” get the term…just that he didn’t. For all we know, he didn’t care about or want it.

  4. Eventually, it needs to happen. It already should have happened, especially with the Mahomes deal. Maybe it will eventually happen, if a franchise quarterback refuses to accept long-term offers, plays out his rookie deal and a couple of franchise tags, and then dictates his terms to the cluster of clubs clamoring to sign him.
    +++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++

    Once salary as a percentage of cap occurs, what motivates the player to perfom? Salary cap is determined by LEAGUE revenues which he has little to no control over. Salary needs to be locally motivated.

    Rather than espouse for long-term contracts tied to cap to generate maximum revenue to the player, have you considered going completely Costanza and doing the opposite and advocating for unlimited free agency and one year contracts? Bidding wars ensue.

  5. Simply no, at least not during this CBA. After that you never know so it would be great to stop bringing it up.

  6. Let’s continue this line of thinking with other long-term business arrangements and see what answers we get… “Will anybody ever agree to a mortgage where the payments increase every time their income increases?” As absurd as that idea sounds to you and me that is exactly how crazy the percentage of cap idea sounds to GMs and NFL owners.

  7. why is it mike’s holy grail that a player eventually gets this type of contract? no one is getting screwed here; when the cap goes up the team has to pay out more money to players. if more of that “larger pie” is contracturally guaranteed to the qb instead of his team mates, why is that necessarily a good thing? qb is already the highest paid position and rightly so, but you aren’t righting some gross injustice to grant a qb or star at any position even more at the expense of their team mates. this is actually one of those “false narratives” we have been lectured about.

  8. The only types of player who can push for a percentage of the salary cap are elite QBs.

    How many are there? Mahomes. Russel Wilson.
    Possibly DeShaun Watson. Lamar Jackson has had just one good year.

    2 players, maybe 3.

    And the good QBS don’t need that.
    They can push for 3 years contracts just like Kirk Cousins did.
    That ensures a series of high paying contracts.
    Eventually that will hurt teams if their salaries keep on outpacing the cap.

    But it allows the QB to leave and go to a good team. They don’t have to take top dollar, they can take near top dollar, and pick a good team.

    What this means is teams like the Texans should be scared.
    Why should DeShaun Watson tie himself to a team that Bill OBrien wrecked?
    He should refuse any contract from them, accept the tag, then leave.

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