The agreement that allowed the 2020 season to proceed attempts to account for the financial consequences of the pandemic. For now, however, not much is known by the NFL Players Association regarding the losses the league has endured.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, the union anticipates getting some guidance later this month, when owners receive preliminary information about the 2021 salary cap during their quarterly meeting in December. That’s typically when the first figures emerge every year. It’s theoretically possible, given the upside-down nature of 2020, that they won’t.
The two sides have agreed the cap will be no lower than $175 million in 2021, with the goal of spreading the losses over several years instead of absorbing them all at once. This helps players make more money, and it protects teams from having to engage in widespread roster bloodletting.
Most assume that the cap will indeed drop all the way to $175 million, given that most stadiums have remained empty all year, and that those with fans present haven’t had many. The good news is that the league, by delivering all games (with some reshuffling) has made its TV money, which is the bulk of the annual revenue.
The duration of the league’s reduced earning capacity remains unknown. Dr. Anthony Fauci recently has said it’s possible that NFL teams will have full stadiums in September 2021. Meanwhile, the league is believed to be negotiating new TV contracts with the various networks.
The Monday Night Football deal expires after 2021, and the other contracts end after 2022. It’s possible that the balance of the existing deals will be ripped up and replaced with new contracts as soon as next season.