The NFL front office and the NFL Players Association agreed on the 2022 salary cap ceiling Wednesday as both entities work to chart the league’s economic recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.
Next season’s cap figure will be no higher than $208.2 million, which represents a presumptive 14% increase over the 2021 number of $182.5 million, per multiple reports. NFLPA leaders sent out a letter to players following resolution of the matter, per Tom Pelissero.
NFLPA leadership sent this email to players today, explaining the $208.2 million salary cap ceiling for 2022.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) May 26, 2021
Translation: The goal is get players out of “debt” ASAP after they received full salaries amidst a multibillion-dollar revenue shortfall in 2020, then let the cap soar. pic.twitter.com/e2iob9oigW
Basically, both sides are expecting a significant financial bounce back after the 2020 season saw a revenue shortfall and forced suspension of player benefits, which the union and league agreed to as amendments to the current CBA. Those amendments ensured full paychecks for the season, but $17 million in benefits went unpaid.
If revenue exceeds that cap ceiling, which seems plausible given the new TV deals and return to full capacity at stadiums, that excess cash flow will help to satisfy those canceled benefits while allowing for an accelerated cap recovery.
Dan Graziano noted that this development puts the league ahead of where some feared.
The 2019 cap (pre-COVID) was $198.2M per team, and at the time the cap was growing by about $10M per year. At that pace, the 2022 cap would have been about $218M. So $208.2M still isn't "caught up." But it would exceed the expectations of many who feared cap might stay flat.— Dan Graziano (@DanGrazianoESPN) May 26, 2021
On a micro level, this is appears to be a somewhat positive turn of events for the Buccaneers. While it’s not a guarantee that the official cap will be that $208.2 million, it’s almost certain to be higher than this year’s figure. After maneuvering the fiscal constraints to keep the Super Bowl roster essentially intact, the team already has roughly $183 million in commitments for next year.
Bucs already have $183 million in cap space committed to players for 2022 (per @spotrac), and that doesn't count the acceleration from voidable years that can kick in. Bucs should not be able to keep the roster intact the same way after this season. https://t.co/IGk6RtH44g— Greg Auman (@gregauman) May 26, 2021
While it was unrealistic to expect another complete return, the team should have some room to negotiate deals for at least a few of their top pending free agents, including WR Chris Godwin, CB Carlton Davis, OL Ryan Jensen, and S Jordan Whitehead.
Several of those names will be looking for a big pay day, pending this year’s results, so GM Jason Licht and Co. can use all the help possible.