How Does the NFL Salary Cap Work?

The NFL salary cap is the total amount of money that all NFL teams can spend on their players’ salaries for a given league year.


The National Football League has a salary cap that serves as a soft salary cap. A soft salary cap means that there is a limit on how much a team can spend on player salaries, but there are ways for teams to exceed the cap. The salary cap was introduced in 1994 and has undergone several changes since then. In 2021, the salary cap is $182.5 million per team.

The salary cap is calculated using a formula that takes into account several factors, including league revenues, team profitability, and player benefits. The NFL uses a “52-17” split of its revenues, meaning that 52% of revenues go to the players and 17% goes to retired players’ benefits. The remaining 31% is split between team owners and expenses such as taxes.

To calculate the salary cap, the NFL takes its total revenues from the previous year and subtracts expenses. This number is then divided by 32 (the number of teams in the league) to determine each team’s share of the pie. This number is then multiplied by 1.17 (the percentage of revenue that goes to player salaries) to determine the final salary cap number.

For example, let’s say that the NFL generated $14 billion in revenue in 2020 and had $4 billion in expenses. This would leave $10 billion for player salaries. This $10 billion would then be divided by 32 (the number of teams in the league) to get each team’s share of $312 million. This number would then be multiplied by 1.17 (the percentage of revenue that goes to player salaries) to get the final salary cap figure of $363 million per team.

The NFL’s labor agreement with its players runs through 2030, so it’s likely that the salary cap will continue to increase over time as league revenues grow.

What is the NFL salary cap?

Currently, the NFL salary cap is set at $177.2 million per team for the 2019 season. This means that each team can spend a maximum of $177.2 million on player salaries for the 2019 season. The salary cap is typically increased by a small amount each year, in order to account for inflation and other factors.

The salary cap is used to help ensure that each team in the NFL has a relatively equal amount of money to spend on player salaries. This helps to create a more level playing field, and makes it more likely that teams will be competitive with one another.

The NFL salary cap is calculated using a number of different factors, including league revenues, television contracts, and other sources of income. The salary cap is also affected by certain expenses, such as benefits for retired players.

How is the NFL salary cap calculated?

The National Football League salary cap is the limit to the total amount of money that teams are allowed to spend on their players’ salaries for the league’s fiscal year. The NFL fiscal year begins on March 1st and ends on February 28th of the following calendar year. The NFL salary cap is calculated as a percentage of the NFL’s designated gross revenue (DGR). For the 2020 season, the DGR was $16.2 billion, which meant that the salary cap for each team was $198.2 million.

The DGR is composed of several different revenue streams, including ticket sales, national and local television contracts, radio rights fees, internet streaming rights fees, merchandise sales, and stadium naming rights fees. Other revenue sources include fines and penalties levied against teams or players, money earned from playing games internationally, and a small portion of revenue from league-level corporate partners.

How do teams manage the salary cap?

The short answer is that each NFL team has a “team salary cap” that governs how much money it can spend on player salaries for the upcoming season. The NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) sets the rules for how the salary cap is calculated and how it can be used.

To comply with the salary cap, teams must stay under their team salary cap ceiling at all times during the League Year, which runs from March to February. During that time, teams can sign free agents, extend the contracts of existing players, and make trades – all while staying under the salary cap.

The team salary cap is calculated using a number of different factors, including:
-The League’s total revenue from the previous year
-An adjustment for any changes in League revenue (or lack thereof) from one year to the next
-An adjustment for any changes in benefits costs from one year to the next
-An adjustment for any changes in national inflation rates from one year to the next

The final number is then divided equally among all 32 NFL teams. For example, if the team salary cap for 2019 is $190 million, each team would have $5.9 million in “cap space” to use on player contracts.

Not all of a team’s player contracts count towards its salary cap. For example, signing bonuses are often structured so that only a certain amount of each bonus counts towards the salary cap in each year of the contract. This allows teams to “backload” contracts and still stay under the salary cap – as long as they remain mindful of future years when more of the signing bonus will count against the salary cap.

What are the benefits of the salary cap?

The benefits of the salary cap are two-fold. First, it helps to keep player salaries from spiraling out of control. By capping the amount of money that teams can spend on players, the NFL is able to keep salaries relatively low compared to other professional sports leagues. This, in turn, helps to keep ticket prices and other associated costs down for fans. Second, the salary cap helps to level the playing field between teams. By capping how much each team can spend on players, the NFL ensures that all teams have roughly the same amount of money to work with when it comes to building a competitive roster. This parity makes for a more exciting and competitive league overall.

What are the drawbacks of the salary cap?

While the salary cap is generally considered to be a good thing for the NFL, there are some drawbacks. One is that it can lead to players being underpaid. If a team is up against the salary cap, they may not be able to offer a player as much money as he could get on the open market. This can lead to players feeling like they have no choice but to sign with a team that offers them less money than they’re worth.

Another drawback of the salary cap is that it can create parity in the league. If all teams are capped at spending the same amount of money on players, then it levels the playing field and makes it difficult for teams to build sustained success. This can make the NFL less competitive overall and make it harder for fans to remain loyal to their team through thick and thin.


In conclusion, the NFL salary cap protects each team’s players and helps to ensure that the playing field is somewhat level. It also serves as a tool to help teams keep their spending under control. The salary floor ensures that teams spend a certain amount on player salaries, which helps to prevent player unions from filing grievances.

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