2021 salary cap may not be known until hours before new league year begins

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Press Conference
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The only thing currently known about the 2021 salary cap is that it will be no lower than $175 million per team. Beyond that, no one knows anything — including when we’ll know more.

Chiefs owner Clark Hunt, who also serves as chairman of the league’s financing committee, says that the 2021 salary cap won’t be set any time soon, via Ben Fischer of Sports Business Journal.

The 2020 cap climbed to $198.2 million, and all teams have negotiated long-term deals under the impression that the cap will continue to increase. The pandemic, which saw 2020 regular-season attendance drop from more than 17 million to roughly one million, will likely push the final number closer to $175 million than to $198.2 million.

“There are so many uncertainties as we look at the 2021 season, which of course is now seven or eight months away, that answering those questions is very challenging,” Hunt said, via Fischer. “It’s going to be difficult to set the cap this year because we don’t know as many of the answers to those questions as we’d like. But that’ll be a collaborative process that happens with the union over the next two or three months. Certainly from a team perspective, we all hope to have something higher than the floor of $175 million, but we just don’t know the answer at this point.”

Some within the league think the final number will come in at $180 million. Ultimately, however, a negotiation between the NFL and the NFL Players Association will drive that decision, as it always does.

This time around, the decision could go down to the wire. Hunt said that the cap could be set only “hours before the start of the league year.”

If that happens, it won’t leave teams with much time to make their final plans for compliance, increasing the likelihood that plenty of key players will be cut by their teams.

Before striking a deal with the union, management must have a consensus as to what the cap should be. Teams with cap space won’t mind if it falls. Teams without cap space will be inclined to keep it higher, pushing the reckoning for 2020 losses into future years.

However it plays out, the league year begins on March 17 at 4:01 p.m. ET. By then, everyone will know what the league and the union are doing.

13 responses to “2021 salary cap may not be known until hours before new league year begins

  1. I realize Clark has bigger fish to fry, but I don’t think it will take 2-3 months to come to an answer with the union if the new league years starts in 44 days.

  2. Teams already over 2020 cap # should be allowed to equal the 2020 cap # if they can make salary obligations with cash above the 2021 #.

    In otherworse 175-182 is cap # for teams below this threshold now. 198 is cap # for teams above if they have the available cash, no credit. That should be firm headed into FA.

  3. Players wanted profit sharing. They need to share in the losses as well. You made your bed now lay in it. Worthless unions.

  4. Good things players didn’t push for a percentage of the cap as their contracts, huh?

  5. Players should a % of cap money, so like you sign a cornerback and they blank % of the cap. Cap goes up your pay goes up and cap goes down pay goes down.

  6. Teams already over 2020 cap # should be allowed to equal the 2020 cap # if they can make salary obligations with cash above the 2021 #.

    In otherworse 175-182 is cap # for teams below this threshold now. 198 is cap # for teams above if they have the available cash, no credit. That should be firm headed into FA.

    ———————————————

    Why?

  7. In any negotiation there are 3 factors. Time, Information and Power. Who does it benefit to push it to the wire ? Bad teams with lots of Cap room.They will benefit from the chaos. Most teams won’t want that, so the cap number will be known well before March 17th.

  8. Tha Nino Man says:
    February 1, 2021 at 8:54 pm
    Teams already over 2020 cap # should be allowed to equal the 2020 cap # if they can make salary obligations with cash above the 2021 #.

    In otherworse 175-182 is cap # for teams below this threshold now. 198 is cap # for teams above if they have the available cash, no credit. That should be firm headed into FA.

    5 97 Rate This
    —————————————
    so would i dole out extensions, whatever to get my team over $198 million then redo everything and have more cap than everyone else?
    Yeah i don’t think so

  9. When the cap falls, the league could adopt policies that permit cap hits from players who are cut to be applied in equal tranches over the next two or three seasons rather than in full immediately into the then-current season.

  10. free agents will be grabbing contracts quickly. the amount of available dollars will go down quickly. Just a thought

  11. Yeah they didn’t want escrow. The teams in the worse cap shape are teams with QB not on a rookie deal. It could be ugly

  12. My bet is on $180 million unless a 17th game is agreed, which I’d expect would push the cap to $200 million.

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