NFL and NFLPA finalize terms for revenue shortfall

On Friday, the NFL and representatives from the NFLPA sat down and hammered out the economic impact of COVID-19 and how it would affect the salary cap over the next few years.

The two organizations agreed to spread out the economic impact over a four year period starting in 2021. The 2020 salary cap will remain unaffected, but the 2021 salary cap — calculated based off of 2020 NFL revenue — will be given a $175-million floor, with the possibility of it increasing if the NFL’s revenue for the season comes in higher than expected.

For a list of estimated cap space for each team heading into 2021, here is a table courtesy of the fine people at Keep in mind that rookies not under contract and carryover from the 2020 season are not included.

TeamEst Cap Space @ $175M
Courtesy of

They go on to speculate that once the aforementioned adjustments are made that the teams that will be over the salary cap will grow from 8 to 13.

This four year deal could also change because in 2022 the NFL will be renegotiating their broadcast deals, so if the nation rebounds from COVID-19, the increase in revenue and attendance could shorten this four-year compromise, and we could even potentially see a massive cap jump from a COVID-impacted 2021 cap to a 2022 number based on new TV deals, a 17-game regular season schedule (expected to start in 2021), and the additional playoff games (going into effect this season).

In the short term though, the economic compromise is obviously not ideal for anyone involved. The owners are losing revenue. The NFL is gonna have trouble finding sponsors. General Managers are going to have to get creative. Finally, many players will be out of jobs.

Impact on players

The players impacted the most are not going to the be the superstars and it won’t be the rookies. The superstars are too valuable to a team’s success. While the rookies are cheap, and have their contracts locked in under the new CBA for the most part.

Players seeking that last big contract in free agency and veteran players that are done with their guaranteed money are going to feel the hurt in their wallet.

Basically, if you thought this offseason was wild, you ain’t seen nothing yet. There is going to have to be a huge reshuffle of rosters, and players that normally would be safe from being cut, are going to hit the open market.

The franchise tag

Jason Fitzgerald, of fame, recently had this question:

This is an excellent question. For a quick explanation on how franchise/transition tags are calculated, let’s use this excerpt from

Franchise and transition tenders are calculated by adding the respective tag numbers, divided by the sum of the salary caps, from the previous five seasons, and finally multipled by the current season’s salary cap

No matter what the cap is, if a player is tagged in 2021 after receiving the tag in 2020, he would still get a raise.

If there is no freeze, the lowered cap amount does in fact mean that newly tagged players could be a steal for some teams.

So wouldn’t a player that is newly tagged in 2021 just sit out? No, the current CBA makes it very costly and near impossible for a player to win a holdout.

This is definitely something to monitor going forward.

The opt-out

Another big part of this new agreement is the way the opt-out process works. There are currently two tiers a player will fall under if they choose to opt-out of the season:

  1. High-Risk: Players under contract who are considered high risk
  2. Voluntary: Players under contract who are not high risk

If a player is to opt-out, they will not get paid what is in their contract. Instead they will be paid the stipend listed above based on the tier they qualify to opt-out under.

These stipends are way less than what some star players are making and marginally less for those that fall on the other end of the spectrum.

Players have until Monday, August 3rd to make their decision.

What is defined as being high-risk?

The CDC defines has outlined what qualifies to be known as a high-risk individual. There are the obvious ones, like people with cancer, and chronic diseases, but there are some that are more related to those in the NFL:

  • Type-2 diabetes mellitus
  • Obesity, players with a BMi of 30 or higher
  • Sickle cell disease
  • Moderate-to-severe asthma
  • Hypertension or high blood pressure
  • Certain neurologic disorders
  • Type 1 diabetes mellitus

The first three are for sure going to qualify a player for being high-risk. The others listed are going to require further diagnosis and evidence. The CDC says individuals who have the other pre-existing conditions are only deemed as maybe being high risk.

Would any players opt-out?

Yes, I believe there will be many well known names who opt-out. A lot of players at the beginning of all of this were talking about putting the health of their families first.

The accrued season for high risk players is not in jeopardy at the moment.

There are two notable players that have been very outspoken about not playing: Demarcus Lawrence and Donovan Smith, both whom would take a considerable pay cut.

Demarcus Lawrence’s comments can be found in full detail here, but he does not believe the players league wide have taken this very seriously. However, Demarcus is, and he has good reason to. His wife, Sasha, is pregnant and is due during the season.

Another likely candidate is Donovan Smith who is the left tackle down in Tampa. When there were lots of unknown about the NFL’s health protocols for COVID-19, Donovan released this statement on instagram:

View this post on Instagram

@nfl @nflpa To whom it may concern: With the start of the 2020 NFL season fast approaching, many thoughts and questions roam my mind as I’m sure it does for many of my fellow “coworkers” across the league. The unfortunate events of the COVID-19 pandemic have put a halt to a lot of things. Football is not one. To continue discussing the many UNKNOWNS do not give me the comfort. Risking my health as well as my family’s health does not seem like a risk worth taking. With my first child due in 3 weeks, I can’t help but think about how will I be able to go to work and take proper precautions around 80+ people everyday to then go home to be with my newborn daughter. How can a sport that requires physical contact on every snap and transferral of all types of bodily fluid EVERY SINGLE PLAY practice safe social distancing? How can I make sure that I don’t bring COVID-19 back to my household? Yes, we can get tested everyday, but if it takes 24 hours to get my results, how can I know each day that I am not spreading this virus or contracting it? The reoccurring issue here is how? There are too many “hows” that have yet to be answered to ease player concerns and ensure the safety of not only myself, but also my family. I just can’t imagine how the game will be the same during these unprecedented times. Now to hear that 35% of my paycheck may be withheld while we are out sacrificing our health and wellness for the joy and entertainment of everyone else who will be safe at home in front of their TVs? Something isn’t right here. That should at LEAST warrant a pay raise due to the risk, not a cut. I am not a lab rat or guinea pig to test theories on. I am a man, a son, brother, soon to be father, and I deserve to be safe at work.

A post shared by Donovan Smith (@dsmith_76) on

All this to say, that maybe these two players have changed their mind with the new information released since their quotes, but I do think there will be high profile names to opt-out.

Buck Reising of AtoZSports, was on 3HL Friday, and he mentioned that right before his segment, he had talked to numerous Tennessee Titans players, and they’re basically treating “opt-outs” like normal.

He said, they’re viewing it no different than an injury that puts a guy out for the season. A “next man up” mentality, is how Buck referred to the thought process.

You have to wonder if a more weak-minded locker room, like the New York Jets, will have the same viewpoint. Also, how will head coaches with weak leadership qualities, like say, oh off the top of my head, Adam Gase, will handle players opting out.

It will be a very interesting next few weeks ahead of the August 3rd opt-out deadline.

What if games get cancelled midseason?

If games are cancelled, base salaries will be moved to future years of the contract and be guaranteed. If the player is on an expiring contract, they will be made whole from a pool of money from the NFL to cover any shortfall.

This is going to be a pay-as-you-go structure. Should games get cancelled midseason any guarantees not paid would convert to future, non-guaranteed salary.

If the money lost is never earned in salary it will then be paid as a health benefit in 2024 and beyond.

Training camp implications

Training camp is starting on time, but the implications of this new deal going through, means that we are at a 80-man roster. Teams will have until August 16th to get their rosters down to 80.

Here is a full list of some of the concessions the owners made for training camp:

Days 5-6: Clowney Days?

The other part is no more than 80 players can be inside the facility, so most teams will have two different groups schedule at different times for training camp.

But hey, at least we are starting training camp on time!

Do you have any further questions about the agreement? Concerns? Let me know below!

Author: Zach LyonsWith over 17 years experience of losing Fantasy Football games, Zach has been a Titans fan since moving to Nashville in 2002. A die-hard Alabama fan, but he doesn't let that cloud his judgement of the Elite Players they have put in the NFL. Players like Derrick Henry, Julio Jones, and AJ McCarron. You've heard him on Football & Other F Words giving his Unfiltered Opinions as facts and that won't change. He's always 100% right even if he has to revise earlier statements. Lawyered.


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