As part of last week’s league meetings, the NFL and the NFL Players Association agreed to set a salary cap ceiling for the 2022 season. According to a report by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network, that ceiling will be implemented at $208.2 million per team.
While no floor has been agreed to as of right now, the belief is that the cap will increase again after dropping by $15.7 million between the 2020 and 2021 seasons due to the Coronavirus pandemic.
That drop was the direct result of Covid-19 forcing the NFL to change its modus operandi in 2020 and suffering some heavy financial losses. With a vast majority of games taking place without any fans in attendance, and only a few hosting a drastically reduced number of spectators, the league-wide lost revenue has been estimated at almost $4 billion.
Consequently, the salary cap for the 2021 season was set below 2020’s spending threshold — the first decrease since the early 2010s. The clubs have $182.5 million to work this season with compared to $198.2 million the previous year.
The belief when this year’s cap was set three months ago, however, was that new broadcasting deals signed by the NFL and its partners would create a quick turnaround of the league’s financial fortunes. The president of the players’ union, DeMaurice Smith, even expressed this optimism in a letter sent to the NFLPA’s members:
With the expected increases in broadcast revenues, a belief that our stadiums can be full again in the full as our nation resumes to normal and other new sources of revenue, our expectation is to have cap growth again in the coming years.
Last week’s agreement is a reflection of this. While the lack of a spending floor gives the league some flexibility, the belief obviously is that financial intake will increase again in 2021. It is not hard to see why: the NFL did not only switch to a 17-game regular season format, it also expects full capacity in all of its stadiums again this fall.
When it comes to the New England Patriots, they currently have $200.6 million in salary cap commitments for the 2022 season with 51 players under contract, according to Miguel Benzan. This projection, however, is built on the presumption that every player signed for the upcoming year will remain so while continuing to play under his current contract — something that is certain not to happen.