Late last month, a potential NFL contingency plan involving a mid-October start date surfaced. The league may be willing to further delay its 2020 season, if it means fans can attend games. Two teams estimated a fan-less season would cost each team approximately $100MM, and Albert Breer of SI.com adds that one NFC exec said he does not imagine much debate will ensue if the league is faced with a choice of starting the season on time without fans or moving Week 1 to November with fans if it meant fans could attend. A $100MM per-team loss would mean a roughly $48MM reduction to the 2021 salary cap, which would cause titanic fallout league-wide.
Before the COVID-19 pandemic, the cap was expected to rise by more than $10MM from 2020-21 and produce greater per-year spikes than the 2011 CBA brought. While Breer estimates the league would make an effort to smooth out a cap decrease so it would gradually decline over multiple years rather than plunge off a cliff in 2021, a fan-less season would have tremendous consequences.
Here is the latest from around the league:
- A delayed season would mean Super Bowl LV being pushed back. Super Bowl sites, however, are required to free up more dates in the event the game must be moved, Breer adds. The NFL moved Super Bowl XVII back a week because of the 1982 strike and delayed Super Bowl XXXVI a week because of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks. The Super Bowl being pushed beyond mid-March would require a negotiation with the NFLPA, since it would conflict with the start of the 2021 league year. The NFL is not at this point yet, but given the uncertainty the coronavirus has injected into other sports’ seasons, the league is preparing for alternate scenarios.
- Roger Goodell recently reduced his salary to zero dollars, according to ESPN.com’s Jeremy Fowler. The 14th-year commissioner requested to the compensation committee he not take a salary during the pandemic, and Fowler adds that took effect weeks ago. Goodell makes roughly $40MM in salary.
- Pay reductions have gone into effect at the league level. Various management-level execs at the league office will see their pay slashed by 5-15%, Fowler adds. These pandemic-induced salary reductions follow similar moves made by the NBA, NHL and Major League Baseball.
- The next set of NFL owners’ meetings — scheduled for May 19-21 in Marina Del Ray, Calif. — will be fully virtual, per the Washington Post’s Mark Maske (on Twitter). Considering NFL teams remain in virtual mode, this was expected.
- The NFL will release its schedule Thursday. A full 17-week season will be scheduled, with some games possible to shift to Saturdays. No London games are believed to be on tap this season, however, due to the pandemic.