With players set to report to training camp in only two weeks, the NFL and the NFL Players Association are still in negotiations over how to safely return 2,880 of them to team facilities in light of the Coronavirus pandemic. While some issues have already been resolved, others still appear to be a long way from an agreement that satisfies both parties. One of the biggest such questions is how to deal with the likely revenue loss the league will suffer this season.
The NFL therefore recently presented a proposal that 35 percent of player salaries be held in escrow to help make up for potentially lost revenue this year. The players association, however, was not thrilled about implementing such a plan with NFLPA senior director of player affairs Don Davis reportedly telling players on a conference call that the response was to tell the NFL “to kick rocks.” Not an encouraging development, but one that was since followed up by the union sending a counterproposal.
According to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero, this proposal includes the following main points:
- No escrow of player salaries in 2020.
- A flat salary cap of $198 million for the 2021 season, with this year’s revenue loss being spread over the 2022-2030 salary caps.
- All contractually guaranteed money will be paid in full even if games are canceled.
- The implementation of a “Covid-19 risk stipend” of up to $500,000 per player if games are canceled.
The NFLPA’s proposal, which will be discussed later today in a conference call, does look fair from an economic perspective: it accounts for revenues going down this year but also offers a plan of how to handle it — all while giving players some clarity in case some or all regular season games will have to be canceled due to a pandemic that is still far from being under control in the United States (quite the opposite actually, especially in states such as Florida, Texas or California).
The main questions, however, are how the league’s 32 owners — including the New England Patriots’ Robert Kraft, who is a member of the NFL’s finance committee — will react to the proposal and whether or not this year’s revenue loss can successfully be spread over the next decade. Either way, the NFLPA’s economic plan is the next step in the ongoing labor dispute.