The NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to set a minimum salary cap number for 2021 at $180 million, as explained in a memo sent by the league to all 32 teams Thursday. Last year the NFL and NFLPA agreed that the minimum salary cap would be no lower than $175 million, with that number now seeing a $5 million increase. The memo explains that this won't be the final number by the league, as the NFL announced that figure will be set following final review of 2020 revenue figures and other audit and accounting requirements. The NFL decided on the $5 million minimum cap increase based on actual 2002 revenues and projected 2021 attendance revenue.
The NFL and NFLPA likely won't increase the salary cap as significantly in previous years, even with new television contracts on the horizon. The league was constricted with few teams actually allowing to have attendance as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic -- with uncertainty fans will be able to attend games in 2021. Peter O'Reilly, the NFL Executive Vice President of Club Business and League Events, told CBSSports.com last month the league is playing out the attendance numbers by ear.
"I think it's too far ahead to really speculate," O'Reilly said. "Hopefully as we head into the rest of winter and spring those vaccinations will continue and allow -- not just NFL fans and NFL games -- but people to be able to come together at such events."
The NFL set its salary cap at $198.2 million in 2020, an increase from $188.2 million in 2019. The league has increased its salary cap every year since having an uncapped season in 2010, allowing teams to spend a significant amount in free agency. That may not be the case this year as a significant increase doesn't appear to be coming.