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Report: NFL hopes to “finalize frameworks” of next TV deals before setting 2021 salary cap

Mike Florio and Charean William go through the top storylines to watch for the 2021 offseason, including what will happen with Russell Wilson in Seattle, Dak Prescott's contract drama and who will be the Saints QB.

The NFL may be partially robbing Peter to partially pay Paul.

That’s the obvious takeaway from a new report, courtesy of CNBC’s Jabari Young, that the NFL wants to “finalize frameworks” of new TV deals before setting the 2021 salary cap.

This implies that the league could be inclined to shift some future earnings toward 2021, potentially bumping up the salary cap. It’s currently expected to land in the range of $180 million per team. It’s possible that, if the money to be earned under the next wave of contracts represents a sufficient increase in revenue, some of that money could be moved around in order to make more money available to all teams in the coming season.

The Monday Night Football package runs through 2021. The rest of the deals apply through 2022.

According to Young, the next wave of contracts is expected to be similar to the current configuration of deals, with FOX and CBS keeping Sunday afternoon packages and NBC retaining Sunday Night Football. Young calls ESPN “the wildcard,” with the possibility of adding the Sunday Ticket package to ESPN+ to Monday nights.

The destination of the Thursday night package remains unclear. FOX holds the rights for the next two years. None of the broadcast networks seem to be interested in assuming the package. Amazon could assume the rights, but that would move the game from the larger platform that a three-letter network provides.

Young notes the ESPN could purchase the Thursday rights, moving the games to ABC. ESPN/ABC/Disney would also like to infiltrate the Super Bowl rotation, currently held by FOX, CBS, and NBC.

However it plays out, there’s a strong sense that the pieces soon will be falling into place. Those new deals, worth up to $100 billion and likely extending through the end of the decade, could make it easier to offset the 2020 losses due to the pandemic.