Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up

Salary cap spikes, and more of the same are likely coming

Mike Florio and Mike Golic run through the player and league sides of the franchise tag and explain why it isn’t a preferred deal for many NFL players.

Last year, the NFL and NFL Players Association agreed to spread the impact of the pandemic over multiple cap years. Even with that understanding, this year’s cap jumped dramatically, from $182.5 million per team in 2021 to $208.2 million per team in 2022.

The increase -- $25.7 million per team -- suggests that more of the same will be coming in future years, thanks to spikes in TV rights and an inevitable increase in gambling revenue. In 2021 alone, the league saw $270 million in new revenue from gambling, with an expectation that, by the end of the decade, it will grow to $1 billion or more annually.

Although Monday’s news regarding the Calvin Ridley suspension demonstrates the very real downside for players who break the rules regarding gambling, the players collectively will see major increases in available spending for the foreseeable future, thanks to cash from the league’s gambling partnerships. It will serve only to drive the available payrolls higher and higher, especially once the full extent of pandemic-related losses are fully off the books.

That’s good news for everyone connected to the game. And it supports ever-increasing salaries for players, from the best to the worst to everyone in between. It also means even more financial gains for the owners, who share the revenue with the players but not the equity. With more and more cash landing on the balance sheets, the values of the franchises won’t just grow. They’ll skyrocket.

As the men who assume the risks and provide the entertainment position themselves to get what they deserve, let’s not forget that those who hold the paper (and who aren’t the ones anyone ever pays to see) are making a hell of a lot more. Let’s remember that when the temptation arises to resent the ones who make the money for everyone try to get their fair share. Instead of lining up behind the billionaires and rooting for the laundry, let’s remember that the men who wear the uniforms should be the ones who benefit from the explosion in cash that the league is in the process of realizing.

That’s the gist of the introduction to Playmakers, and that message is conveyed throughout the book. The players are the game, and we all need to realize that they each have a limited window to generate compensation for their skills they display and the risks they assume. Instead of chastising them for trying to get more, we should realize that they get a small handful of chances to get a piece of a pie that keeps get bigger and bigger and bigger. It stands to reason that their pieces should be getting bigger, too, and that we shouldn’t be upset about their efforts to do so. Not when everything they don’t get disappears into the coffers of folks who have more money than they and their progeny could ever spend, even if they spent every waking moment trying to.