The NFL salary cap dropped to $182.5 million for the 2021 season due to revenue shortfalls caused by the pandemic last season, but the league expects the cap to increase ahead of the 2022 season as fans are welcomed back into stadiums.
The NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to set a ceiling of $208.2 million, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reports.
The 2022 cap figure is a projection, and the 2021 cap is still a working figure. For 2021, the salary cap is already set at $182.5 million per team and is based on the league’s projected revenue for the upcoming season and the revenue lost in 2020 due to the pandemic, which kept teams from filling up their stadiums, ESPN reports.
“Before the pandemic, the cap had been growing reliably by about $10 million per year. Had that pace continued, the 2021 cap would have been about $208 million and the 2022 cap about $218 million,” the article states. “So even this high-end $208.2 million number in 2022 wouldn’t mean cap growth has ‘caught up’ to its pre-pandemic pace. But it would represent a roughly 14% increase from the 2021 cap and the highest one-year jump in the nearly 30-year history of the NFL salary cap.”
In 2020, the cap was set at $198.2 million per team.
It’s possible that the league’s 2021 revenue projections end up being low because the possibility of full stadiums all year has not yet been accounted for. So if 2021 revenues outpace projections, the difference would be added to the 2022 calculations and could result in the 2022 cap getting close to that $208.2 million ceiling.
If it goes over the $208.2 million cap, the extra money would be used to accelerate the timetable for paying back player benefits that were canceled last year.
ESPN reports $17 milllion in 2020 player benefits were canceled as part of the agreement between the league and the players on COVID-related amendments to the collective bargaining agreement.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said on Wednesday he has a “tremendous amount of optimism and excitement that we’ll have full stadiums across our league this season.”
Goodell said 30 of 32 teams have a better-than-90% vaccination rate among Tier I and Tier II personnel, and the other two are over 85%, MMQB’s Albert Breer reports.