Friday, December 18, 2009

Say goodbye to the NFL's salary cap

The NFL has long been lauded for its ability to maintain competitive balance. Each season about half of the previous year’s playoff participants are watching from home. The balance keeps fans engaged and hopeful that during any given season it could be their team that vies for the coveted Lombardi Trophy – unless of course they reside in Cleveland, Oakland or Detroit.

The straw that stirs the drink of competitive balance is without question the salary cap.

Yet with all of its popularity, the NFL’s uncanny ability to nearly insulate itself from a struggling economy, the league’s players and owners seem willing to wave goodbye to the salary cap and enter 2010 as an uncapped season.

Some will say it is nearly unconscionable for the NFL to allow an uncapped season to become reality. But with March 1 (the beginning of an NFL year) just 72 days away, there has been very little discussion about a new collective bargaining agreement (“CBA”).

A couple of weeks ago, the owners announced that they were pulling part of the revenue sharing arrangement. It was just a very small component of the overall CBA package, but it looked like just another attempt on the part of the owners to gain a strategic advantage over the NFL Players’ Association (“NFLPA”).

Other than that, a couple of months ago, the two sides engaged in some preliminary talks that resulted in an agreement on some very minor issues, but that's been it.

From the outside looking in, it appears as though the owners are attempting to strong-arm the NFLPA. Unless the Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and his constituents relent, the owners seem prepared to settle for the uncapped season.

The popular belief or should I say fear amongst fans is that an uncapped year will usher in free spending similar to that of MLB’s New York Yankees and Boston Red Sox, thus snapping in two the straw that stirs competitive balance in the NFL.

But that is NOT the case.

The owners had the vision to include safeguards in the CBA that collectively prevent the spending free-for-all. Ravens24x7's Brian McFarland chronicles these safeguards in an excellent piece entitled “Will an ‘uncapped’ 2010 shift the NFL's balance of power towards the rich?”

Brian also authored another thoughtful piece, “Would the Ravens be better off if 2010is a capped or uncapped season?”

The bet here is that 2010 WILL be uncapped. The owners are simply waiting for the players to blink and it is unlikely that the NFLPA’s newly appointed Executive Director will do that because it could be viewed as a sign of weakness.

Let the stalemate and the uncapped season begin…

Brian McFarland contributed to this blog entry.


Jerry B said...

Great article, TL! I keep thinking that the NFL/Owners/Players are about to kill the "goose that layed the Golden Egg"! Only time will tell.......

Harryos29 said...

Harry os 29 Dec 18th
JERRY B is right on. GREED ruins every thing in this world. Two words: TIGER WOODS. Nuff said there.
Football is very successful due to the CAP... take away the Cap and you will drive Regular Fans from the stands. Luxurey boxes will still be bought by the big corporations... or will they.? It seems that the Federal government wants to limit things these days... but that is another subject for another time.