NFL free agency starts one week from today, and teams are still awaiting word on the exact 2012 salary cap number. That's because, according to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk, the NFL and the NFL Players Association are "scrambling to increase" the salary cap. According to Florio's report:
"The problem arises from two realities. Under the new CBA, players receive a finite number (47 percent of specifically defined revenues) to cover both salaries and benefits. But the costs of the benefits have increased, driving more of the allocation away from salaries.
"And so, for roughly a week, the NFLPA has been trying to re-do the numbers in order to trim back the benefit costs and in turn drive up the salary cap."
The league, meanwhile, is doing everything it can to support the efforts of the NFLPA. Not only do the owners want to see the salary cap increase simply because they can then spend the money on making their teams better, but they also have a fear that any decrease in salary cap could be seen as the consequences from a bad CBA deal.
In 2011, the total "player cost" was $142.5 million. From that, $22.05 million was spent on player benefits, leaving $120.375 million per team for salaries. This year, player benefits have increased - primarily because of the return of the performance-based pay system, which pays low-salary players a benefit if they participate in a high number of snaps for their team - meaning the salary cap will actually decrease if a solution isn't found.
And, with free agency just a week away, that solution has to be found soon.