NFL games being held this fall without fans in attendance due to the coronavirus pandemic would affect the league's bottom line, and that could impact George Kittle's contract extension with the 49ers.
How, you might ask? Sports Illustrated's Albert Breer wrote Monday that a revenue shortfall could lead to a lower salary-cap figure than currently projected. That, in turn, could lead to a flat salary cap moving forward, as the NFL "would borrow cap dollars from future years" in order to prevent a drastic one-year drop.
"[Teams] at least have to be prepared for the idea it could happen, which will lead at some teams to be conservative with their spending," Breer explained. "And that’s without even considering that the threat of a revenue shortfall might make teams more conscious of their cap spending too."
Breer listed Kittle, Los Angeles Chargers defensive end Joey Bosa and New York Jets safety Jamal Adams as players who "could find the financial going a little tougher over the next couple months" as they try to become the highest-paid players at their respective positions.
With the NFL draft in the rearview mirror, re-signing Kittle is the 49ers' biggest offseason priority as the tight end approaches the final year of his rookie contract. General manager John Lynch told NBC Sports Bay Area's Matt Maiocco that the 49ers aren't putting a timetable on Kittle's extension, and the GM was confident that Kittle would re-sign in "due time."
California Gov. Gavin Newsom said on May 18 that the state could hold sporting events without fans as soon as June, but said in April that spectators couldn't attend games until "Phase 4" when the state lifts its shelter-in-place orders. Newsom said at the time the state won't reach "Phase 4" until a vaccine or widespread treatments are developed.
Other states have gone further in reopening its economies, however, and NFL executive vice president of football operations Troy Vincent said last week that the league is expecting fans in the stands this fall until medical professionals say otherwise.
Kittle could sign before the 49ers truly know how a revenue shortfall would impact the salary cap moving forward. The longer Kittle goes without signing an extension, the more the NFL's projections will be worth monitoring.
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