NFL Owners Have Discussed QB Cap

This past September, it was learned that NFL owners attempted to write a maximum player salary into the most recent CBA. Such a proposal was quickly rejected by the NFLPA, but a similar idea has remained a point of discussion.

During an appearance on the Rich Eisen Show, NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero noted that discussion has taken place amongst some owners regarding the establishment of a cap specifically used for quarterbacks (video link). Limiting the percentage of a team’s salary cap a franchise signal-caller could occupy would of course be a dramatic development. Pelissero adds, though, that no agreement on this front is imminent.

Issues pertaining to the salary cap are collectively bargained, so any formal arrangement would require the approval of the player’s association. As Mike Florio of Pro Football Talks writes, though, the setup being considered would be more akin to an unofficial agreement amongst owners to not spend past a certain point on quarterback deals (either in the case of extending in-house passers or signing outside free agents). Owners could approach the matter in terms of a percentage of the salary cap, or in terms of total dollars similar to NBA supermax contracts.

The QB market has surged in recent years, and four passers reached surpassed $50MM per year on their respective contracts last offseason. That quartet (Jalen Hurts, Lamar Jackson, Justin Herbert, Joe Burrow) has since been joined by Jared Goff and Trevor LawrenceEyebrows were raised when the latter matched Burrow’s annual average value – $55MM – on his Jaguars extension despite his thinner resume compared to the Bengals star. With the salary cap set to continue rising, the likes of Dak Prescott, Tua Tagovailoa and Jordan Love are positioned to add to the $50-per-year club or perhaps reach the $60MM mark.

As Pelissero notes, part of the potential pushback amongst owners is the fact that many teams already have a quarterback mega-contract on the books. Others are set to join them in the future, with Brock Purdy in line for an extension as early as 2025 and C.J. Stroud amongst the QBs who will be eligible one year after that. With gambling revenue and new media rights deals driving the salary cap forward, future contracts for signal-callers could continue to increase in value for years to come.

The 2011 CBA saw the introduction of the rookie wage scale, which slotted salaries of players’ initial contracts based on their draft position. That essentially ended contract disputes with players’ earnings being pre-determined and negotiations being steered toward signing bonus payouts and guarantee structures. The introduction of an upper limit on quarterback earnings would likewise represent a dramatic development affecting the financial landscape of the NFL. Without further consensus from ownership, though, even an informal agreement on the matter should not be expected in the near future, let alone an official cap jointly negotiated with the NFLPA.

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