The NFL Players Association and the NFL have agreed on the 2022 salary-cap ceiling. According to ESPN sources, the highest possible salary-cap amount per team will be US$208.2 million. This number is in line with the league’s efforts to deal with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and pay the cancelled 2020 player benefits as soon as possible.
It All Comes Down to Calculations and Projections
NFL teams don’t have to go all the way up to the $208.2 million cap, of course, but that is the maximum amount that NFL franchises will be able to work with in the 2022 season. It is also possible that revised 2022 revenue projections could result in a lower cap if 2021 revenue projections turn out to be too optimistic.
However, if the revenue calculations say that teams can set higher caps than $208.2 million, then they won’t be able to do that. All excess revenue above that 2022 salary-cap ceiling will go towards paying the $17 million in player benefits that were cancelled in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 2021 salary cap was calculated based on the NFL’s projected revenue, as well as the COVID-related lost revenue in 2020. It is set at $182.5 million. That is a drop from the $198.2 million salary cap that teams had in 2020.
A Promising 14% One-Year Increase – Highest in Salary-Cap History
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, teams were seeing their salary-cap ceilings increase by roughly $10 million a year. If that had continued, the 2021 salary cap would have been set at about $208 million and the 2022 cap would have been in the region of $218 million.
In other words, even though the $208.2 million salary cap teams will have in 2022 is on the high end, it still doesn’t mean that the league has recovered from the effects of the pandemic.
However, what it means is that the league is slowly catching up, and that’s promising. In fact, the 2022 salary cap represents a 14% increase on the 2021 salary ceiling and is the highest one-year increase the NFL salary cap has ever experienced in its history.
Players Might Get Their Cancelled Benefits As Early As 2022
As was already mentioned, the 2022 salary cap might still end up being lower than the projected $208.2 million mark. For instance, it is possible that the projections the league has about the number of fans that will visit stadiums might turn out to be wrong.
However, if the NFL gets more revenue than it expects in 2021, then the extra money will go towards paying back player benefits for 2020.
According to the agreement players and the league signed on July 26, 2020, $17 million in player benefits were cancelled. These included benefits such as severance pay, second career savings plan, pay based on performances, etc.
The agreement prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic read that the cancelled benefits would be repaid by 2023. However, the new agreement that the NFL and the Players Association signed leaves the door open to players getting their benefits back in 2022.
If that happens, it will be a sign that the NFL has weathered the COVID-19 storm and that one of the most testing periods in NFL history will soon be behind it.