Perhaps the biggest surprise of the 2012 NFL owners meetings is the salary-cap projections.
Starting with the 2014 season, revenues are expected to rise significantly because of increased television dollars and the overall strength of the game. What won't rise much is the salary cap.
After having flat caps of $120.375 million in 2011 and $120.6 million in 2012, the NFL management council told clubs Tuesday that the cap won't increase much in the next three years. In fact, the 2015 cap may go up to only $122 million, according to management council projections.
Although the cap numbers for 2013, 2014 and 2015 still can be negotiated, projections point to very little increase. The cap may rise by only $300,000 in 2013, going to around $120.9 million. Even though increased network television money is coming in 2014, the cap is projected to go only into the $121-plus million range.
Reason for this...
The answer resides in what has happened during the first two seasons of the new collective bargaining agreement. When the management council and the NFL Players Association ran the numbers from the percentage of money going to the players, the salary cap in 2011 was supposed to be less than $120 million. It could have been as low as around $116 million.
To put more salary money into free agency last season, the union was able to shift some of the benefit money into salary money. The result was a $120.375 million cap in 2011.
According to sources, the salary cap was supposed to be around $113.5 million this year. With 427 free agents, a huge cap decrease would have depressed the market and given almost too much contract leverage to teams. The union worked out a deal with the owners to trade off $7.1 million in benefit dollars per team from future years to have a $120.6 million salary cap.
Thoughts and how does this effect the Panther's resigning some key free agents during those years.