Will the 2014 NFL Salary Cap Actually Increase Dramatically?

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 05: NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (L) chats with New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft on the field before the New England Patriots take on the New York Giants in Super Bowl XLVI at Lucas Oil Stadium on February 5, 2012 in Indianapolis, Indiana. (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

Earlier this week, texascowpunk suggested I make a post about what the state of the Miami Dolphins current contracts and the expected jump in 2014 salary cap would mean for the team when that season gets here. I thought it was a great idea, given the upcoming new television contracts, which start in 2014, are expected to infuse the league, and therefore the salary cap, with a dramatic increase in money.

But, apparently that might not be the case.

As I started the research for that article, I ran across this article showing why the salary cap may not increase as expected in 2014, from Blogging the Boys, SB Nation's Dallas Cowboys blog.

New England Patriots owner Bob Kraft, who spoke last Thursday at an event at Gillette Stadium, appears to not believe the salary cap will dramatically increase in 2014.

"I don't really see that happening," Kraft stated. "I don't think what happened in 2006 will happen in the future here, because if you understand the labor agreement and the long-term part of this, there will be a smooth growth. Anyone who assumes huge jumps, I hope they're in our division."

But, we all know that the league is getting a large bump in cash with the new television contracts. The Washington Post writes:

"Industry sources said the new deals will be worth an average of about $1 billion apiece to the NFL over the length of the contracts. That total of approximately $3 billion annually for the three deals is up from about $1.9 billion per year currently for the contracts with the three networks."

As the Blogging the Boys article points out, that $1.9 billion annual increase is in addition to the money from Disney, ESPN's parent company, and DirectTV. Bloomberg puts that total Disney and DirecTV number at about $4 billion a year.

However, that Bloomberg article also seems to support Kraft's assertion that the league is not going to see a giant leap in the income from the television contracts.

"Rights fees for all three networks will increase by about 6 percent or 7 percent a year, according to three people with knowledge of the talks who were granted anonymity because they weren't authorized to disclose the terms," Bloomberg writes.

So, according to Kraft and Bloomberg, the NFL's revenue increase will not be a large jump from one year to the next, but a gradual increase, with the final annual rate being much larger than the current rates.

And, there are more troubles on the horizon if this gradual increase is correct. According to the New England Sports Network, the NFL Players Association has already informed players and agents that the salary cap will, "see 'significant growth' in 2014 'and beyond.'"

Are the owners and players already heading toward labor strife, just a few years into the new 10-year CBA? Maybe the Blogging the Boys article puts it best:

"Are we talking a difference in semantics here? Or is there going to be a massive sense of disappointment, and maybe even betrayal, in 2014 if the salary cap sees an increase in the 6% to 7% range? The NFLPA may be setting that up. If there is a major disconnect between expectations and reality in a couple of years, the supposed labor peace guaranteed by the new CBA may be a bit of an illusion. Or, given the fact that there is not a lot the players can do about it short of just not playing, and not getting paid, they may just take this out on NFLPA President Kevin Mawae [Domonique Foxworth was elected NFLPA President on Sunday] and Executive Director DeMaurice Smith. In that case, the ire may largely dissipate, given the brevity of most NFL careers and the fact that the cap will have gotten much larger by the time the CBA is up for renegotiation.

"But in reality, the increase in the cap will be less, because television revenue is only part of the total. When you factor out the money from ticket and suite sales and other income, the actual increase is more likely to be around 4% or 5%. So we may be talking a figure of around $5 or $6 million each year. Over the eight years of the new contract, that adds up, but slowly. Just like Kraft says."

Maybe this is an owner trying to maintain bargaining leverage with players, who could be demanding large pay raises in 2014 if they know the cap is going to rise dramatically. Maybe there really is a disconnect between the players and the owners heading toward 2014. Maybe there really will be a dramatic jump in the revenue and salary cap in 2014. For now, all of us can only sit and wait to see what happens in two years.

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