Friday, April 17, 2009

Expanding to 18 games could upset the NFL's competitive balance

Roger Goodell’s determination to add two regular season games to NFL schedules is interesting to say the least. Like everything else that inspires action on the part of the NFL, money is the motivator.

Goodell is championing his cause by siding with the fan, claiming that it isn’t fair for the Average Joe sitting in his expensive seat to fork over full price for a less than full preseason product. But that’s just a smoke screen. What the league really wants is more money from TV and extending the season two more weeks can potentially grow the NFL coffers even more.

On the surface such a move should be rewarding to NFL fans. The month of February is perhaps the worst on the sports TV calendar so why not enhance it with meaningful NFL games?

However if Goodell successfully achieves the prerequisite vote from the owners, it could tilt the balance of power in the NFL.

The league’s salary cap for each club grows as the league’s revenues grow. Under the current collective bargaining agreement, each cannot exceed the salary cap but perhaps more importantly, they are required to spend a minimum percentage of the cap. Most recently that percentage was 86.4%.

Now if the league expands to 18 games, the revenues will grow and so will the cap. Teams might also have to expand rosters from 53 to perhaps 60 players since the risk of injury increases with the added games. Players will also want bigger salaries to compensate for the extended work.

It all adds up.

Eventually the cap will swell to such proportions that the small market teams, perhaps even the mid market teams like Baltimore will hover around the salary cap minimum because the burden of the increasing cap jeopardizes their profitability. They will be at a distinct disadvantage.

With the likely expansion of rosters, more resources will have to be poured into scouting and coaching – perhaps the respective team headquarters will require expansion along with administrative personnel placing additional pressure on teams’ income statements. Gradually, the big market teams will pay the most; employ the best coaches and most efficient scouts; and field the deepest rosters.

How long before Pete Rozelle’s dream of a league of parity is shattered?


Harryos29 said...

Harry O 29 April 18th...
.. I remember reading the NEWS AMERICAN, when JOHN STEADMAN, rightly "RAILED" about being Charged for PRE SEASON GAMES.
...I am in favor of cutting out 2 pre-season games and adding them to the Regular Season. If the NFL plays into February so what?
... However, I agree with the original post that Salaries will escalate... I do think it would be great to have the ability to DRESS 60 players on game day.
...But, if the NFL does this and it KILLS THE GOLDEN GOOSE, old Pete Rozelle will be spinning in his grave.
I say do it anyway!!!