NFL owners want to finalize an agreement with the NFL Players Association by Sunday regarding the expected revenue shortfall caused by the coronavirus pandemic and how it will affect the salary cap, NFL Network reported Thursday.
Per the report, the owners would like a deal before the full rosters for the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans are scheduled to start strength and conditioning work. Without a deal by Sunday, the league could push back in-person workouts.
The hard deadline for any economic agreement would be the start of the regular season, as player salaries would guarantee if a game is played.
Multiple outlets have reported the union would like to spread out the impact of the revenue shortfall over multiple years, minimizing the impact on the salary cap.
However, owners want to concentrate the effect on the 2021 cap and even part of the 2020 cap. According to The MMQB, some owners are strongly opposed to spreading losses out over multiple years, as they did in 2011-13, something they view as an "interest-free loan" to players.
If no deal is reached, the cap could drop by as much as $70 million in 2021, per projections, from its current number of $198.2 million. Per NFL Network, a general manager believes dropping the 2020 cap by even $10 million would be "too much" at the moment, as several teams are already short on cap space.
Negotiations between the league and union in recent days have focused on the preseason -- which was eliminated -- roster sizes, testing procedures and rules for players who opt out of playing. In addition to the economics, the sides still must agree on a firm training camp schedule, with players pushing for more time to ramp up to fully padded practices.
In a separate report Thursday, NFL Network said the league will recommend players use mouth shields on helmets but is not expected to require them.
The shields, created by Oakley in partnership with the NFL, were designed to help protect players from airborne particles that could spread COVID-19. Some players, including Houston Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, have said they would not wear them, while others like Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson have practiced in them on their own.
-Field Level Media