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“Worst deal in the history of sports” suddenly looks pretty good


The past three weeks have entailed plenty of talk about the salary cap as calculated in the new CBA, and whether and to what extent those numbers will spike when the new TV contracts kick in.

The NFLPA reportedly has told players it will. Patriots owner Robert Kraft has said that it won’t.

Now, Texans owner Bob McNair, who chairs the league’s finance committee, agrees with Kraft.

“It is staying pretty flat for several years,” McNair told Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal while departing last week’s league meetings. McNair added that, after 2014, the cap will “gradually” increase.

Kaplan’s report also confirms that the union borrowed against future years in order to pump the cap in 2012 from as low as $113 million per team to $120.6 million per team, not much more than the $120.375 million per team in 2011. The same thing will happen in 2013, which means that gains to be realized in 2014 and beyond will have already been, to a certain extent, consumed by the players in order to drive up the numbers in 2012 and 2013.

The end result, per Kaplan, will be a total of $142.4 million per team in salary and benefits for each of the first three years of the new CBA, with modest annual increases thereafter.

Kaplan points out that, last March, the players walked away from a proposal that would have guaranteed $146 million per team in 2012, $150 million per team in 2013, and $161 million per team in 2014. (Actually, the document created by the owners in March 2011, a copy of which PFT has obtained, showed a minimum of $148 million in 2012 and $155 million in 2013.) NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith called that offer the “worst deal in the history of sports,” in part because of the gross reduction in the players’ take and in part because the formula included no portion of the league’s financial upside.

So, instead, the players eventually traded a proposal with a high floor and a low ceiling for a deal with a low floor and a high ceiling. And for now the numbers are congregating at the floor.