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NFL wants to take financial hit from pandemic in 2020-21

Last night, we explained that some owners want to deal with the financial consequences of the pandemic over the next two seasons. As it turns out, it’s enough owners to make it the league’s official position in ongoing talks with players.

According to Tom Pelissero of the NFL, the NFL has proposed that each team’s costs be “slashed” in 2020 by $40 million. Any remaining revenue shortfall would then be made up by a reduction in the salary cap and benefits in 2021.

The players strongly object to this approach. The union has proposed smoothing all COVID-related losses over nine cap years, from 2022 through 2030.

It’s important to remember that the players have very real leverage on this point. Contrary to Pelissero’s assertion that the two sides have a current obligation to negotiate the impact of the financial losses on the salary cap in 2020, the players have no obligation to do anything until 2021. Because the league did not insert a force majeure clause into the CBA, the players get their full pay if the NFL stages as few as one week of  games. (If no games are played, the league would argue based on the Standard Player Contract that no game checks are owed, since the SPC does not trigger the duty to pay base salary until the first game of the season is played.)

Thus, the players can tell the league, as to the financial aspect of the pandemic, that the two sides’ rights and responsibilities are set forth in the CBA, and that the players will be prepared to negotiate the cap consequences of the pandemic next year, confident in the notion that teams won’t want the chaos that would come from a dramatic and sudden drop in the cap and the widespread obligation to re-do contracts or cut veterans that would ensue. A slow, methodical distribution of the financial losses due to the pandemic benefits everyeon. For some reason, however, the NFL suddenly wants to take the full pain of the pandemic over the next 18 months.


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