If the Seahawks are unable to house fans at CenturyLink Field in 2020 because of COVID-19, there could be dire ramifications to the salary cap in 2021.
COVID-19 has affected millions of people worldwide. The wonderful world of football is no different. There is a very real likelihood that the Seahawks, as well as other teams, will either be unable to have fans in their stadium or will have a strict limit for how many fans can attend games. Ian Rapport announced that the NFL and NFLPA are expected to meet regarding the potential ramifications this will have toward the salary cap.
There have been rumors that if the NFL is unable to have any fans, it could cost the NFL up to $4 billion in revenue. This figure is good for just above a third of the total revenue for the NFL. Two options have been thrown out for how to counteract this loss if it comes to fruition.
First, have the players voluntarily accept reductions to their salary for the upcoming season. The NFL can only ask players to voluntarily reduce their pay, as the league’s 2020 salary cap has already been finalized. Given that the burden falls on both parties, they will likely try to find ways to reduce costs unilaterally.
League-wide the NFL has $5.78 billion in contracts for the 2020 season. Meaning, that if all players forego 30% of their salary, this would only save the NFL $1.734 billion of the potential $4 loss. However, it will be a very tall order for the NFL to convince players to accept pay reductions.
Another option that has been floating around is borrowing against future cap space. The number that I have heard would be lowering the 2021 cap space for each team by $80 million. This current season each team in the NFL has $198.6 in base cap space. This would lower the cap space for each organization to roughly $118.6 million for 2021.
This would induce a loss of 41% of next year’s cap space if all else were to stay the same. This would mark the first time since the 2011 season the cap space would decrease. It wouldn’t only decrease but it would be a titanic size hole in each teams’ books.
Another major hiccup with this idea, teams already have millions of dollars invested in future contracts. In fact, if the cap fell $80 million next season from the $198.6, there would only be 3 teams that would currently be below the new cap.
The 3 teams would be the Colts with $18 million in cap space, and both the Chargers and Jaguars with $4 million. Meanwhile, the Seahawks would be $26.4 million over the cap. To put it into perspective, the Seahawks have the 7th most cap space next year.
Regardless of what is decided, this is something that every NFL fan needs to keep a close eye on. These negotiations between the NFLPA and the NFL could have a dire impact on every team’s salary cap for years to come. The negotiation date has not yet been announced.