NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell will not be receiving $50M a year and use of a private jet for life, according to numerous sources with knowledge of the situation, and never made such contract "demands," either. A report to that end has raised the ire of Falcons owner Arthur Blank, chair of the league's Compensation Committee, sources said and is not reflective of the tone of negotiations, which were effectively completed weeks ago.
In fact, the salary structure that Goodell agreed to weeks ago is nowhere near $50M a year. According to league sources his Max compensation is $200M over five years and that requires him to hit all incentives, with a base salary in the range of $20M a year. Goodell is currently on a contract in which he has regularly pocketed around $40M annually, with the NFL having achieved record ratings and revenue up until last season, when viewership began to decline. While Goodell's lawyers did bring up other comparable salary, bonus and perk packages of CEOs and commissioners at the beginning of talks with the league on this matter in the spring -- when the full ownership group unanimously voted to authorized the Compensation Committee to complete a new deal with Goodell running to 2024 -- it was never a matter discussed deeply. All sources agreed that Goodell has never demanded a salary in that range and while many owners are concerned about the overall salaries at the NFL offices, Goodell's new deal will be nowhere near these reported terms.
The new deal, which is still awaiting formal signing/announcement, has a base salary around $20M a year. In addition, Goodell has a incentives similar to players -- likely to be earned and not likely to be earned, based on key metrics like revenue, TV ratings, sponsorship deals, etc. If he reaches all of them -- which is not easy -- he could unlock roughly another $10M per year. On top of that there are "subjective" bonuses that the owners, should they opt to, could also bestow on Goodell should they believe he is doing an extraordinary job and merits them.
So the reality is, Goodell would hardly be assured of earning that max of $40M a year on the deal that was agreed to weeks ago, with roughly half of it is actually guaranteed as his base package, and $50M never was a serious consideration on either side. Other owners believe that Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, at war with Goodell following the suspension of star running back Zeke Elliott for six games, was behind the leak of the $50M figure and they also question his role in recent comments by Donald Trump and the head of Papa John's pizza about NFL ratings and player protests.
Jones' ongoing attacks on Goodell and his threat to sue other owners have continued to isolate him, sources said. According to one ownership source, who has been in contact with many other teams about this issue, Jones retaining a lawyer and his ongoing antics have pushed some owners who previously were in favor of waiting to finalize and announce a new deal with the commissioner to to bring the matter before a full vote of ownership are now firmly supporting completing the process ASAP.
"The events of the last week, legally and in the media, have brought most of the owners closer together and determined to complete this contract," the source said. "The overriding reason has to do with needing a strong commissioner so that a few strong-willed owners don't control the league. And Roger is that kind of commissioner. The letter (Jones sent from his lawyer threatening possible litigation) really backfired."
Blank, as head of the Compensation Committee, can decide whether or not to have a discussion with the full ownership before the scheduled Dec. 13 NFL meetings about Goodell's contract. Some believe his committee will simply prepare the documents for signing and move on as they wish, given the authorization they were already granted in the spring. Jones has requested a meeting prior to Dec. 13 but the Compensation Committee is not entertaining that, sources said. With owners growing weary about Jones' tactics and no longer as willing to delay the process, a resolution of the contract is expected this year.