Days before training camp was scheduled to begin, players and owners have agreed on every major issue in order to return to play on time, according to Lindsay Jones from The Athletic. Although rookies had already reported to camp, uncertainty about it beginning as planned was on the air as the NFL and NFLPA negotiated economic terms, opt-outs, and other details as they try to hold a season amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.
As we got closer to July 28th, players and owners had yet to agree on how the revenue shortfall the league is set to face in 2020 was going to be handled. As is always the case with money, this might have been the most complicated issue to agree on.
When the negotiations on how the economics would work with no fans in the stands began, both sides proposed very plans that were in different ballparks. Team owners were looking for a short term solution while players wanted to spread the losses over eight years to keep the impact on the salary cap at a minimum.
Fortunately, they were able to quickly agree to a solution instead of letting it drag out like many feared they would. Here’s what they agreed to:
Salary Cap Floor in 2021
This season’s salary cap will remain unaffected despite the owners’ attempts of getting an adjustment. In order to prevent a big dip in 2021, the sides agreed to a “floor” of $175M for next year’s cap. No matter what happens, the salary cap in 2021 will be $175M at least.
Cap Smoothed Through 2023
While the players wanted to spread the losses through eight seasons, the sides finally agreed on doing so through 2023.
“No play, no pay”
If the 2020 season has to be stopped at any point, salaries and incentives will also stop. However, Ian Rapoport provided some clarity on this topic mentioning that any amount not paid in 2020 would become guaranteed in the future year for the player.
Clarity on this point on base salaries: Any amount not paid in 2020 becomes guaranteed in the future year for the player. Just won’t be paid right now. If a player is a free agent, there is a pool of money from the NFL to make up any shortfall in future contract.
“No play, no pay” refers only to the 2020 season being stopped, not players opting out. Which brings us to…
Players who don’t want to play can opt-out of the season. While there’s still no clarity on player compensation in this scenario, stipends are expected to be available. This post will be updated when more information is available.
Players have until August 3rd to opt-out.
Update: Jeremy Fowler from ESPN reports there will be two types of opt-outs, one for those players considered high risk and one for the rest of the players.
NFL players considered high risk to COVID-19 can earn $350,000 and accrued NFL season if choose to opt out of 2020 season, sources say. Players without risk can earn $150,000 for opt-out. Stipulations, such as being under contract, to crystallize but those are working numbers.
80-player training camp
Instead of the usual 90 players, teams will have to hold training camp with only 80 players. August 16th will be the deadline to cut the training camp roster to 80.
Practice Squad increase
Meanwhile, the practice squad limit will increase to 16 players. Six of the players can have an unlimited number of accrued seasons. Usually, practice squad eligibility requires no more than two accrued seasons, although there are exceptions.
This should be a big deal for NFL veterans.
Details will continue to be reported, of course, but the major issues have now been agreed to. Training camp will begin on time and while there will be no preseason, the NFL is on time for a regular season kickoff on September 10th.