In other words, you can start to see the makings of a deal. Of course, it will take more than just this redistribution of the salary cap space to make the players willing to cut back their share of the revenues. Another idea being floated already is the elimination of one or two preseason games and the concurrent expansion of the regular season. This benefits the players because they get a salary check for regular season games but only a small per diem of around $1,000 for preseason games. Even if the salary is divided up over 17 or 18 games rather than 16, that’s still far more money than what they get now for a meaningless preseason game.
When it comes to union matters, the average player is like the average auto worker. The only bottom line is the bottom line. The issue to them isn’t the share of revenues as much as it is what their paychecks look like. Of course the two are inextricably linked, but how the money gets to them isn’t nearly as big of a concern as the fact that it got to them.
For the near term, don’t expect much to happen. Though the union and the NFL claim that there is still three years of uninterrupted football on the horizon, it’s really two. There’s enough incentive on both sides to get a deal done and not get to that third year because while it will lack a salary cap, it also will lack a minimum salary. Anyone who thinks one of the owners will go off the reservation and spend frivolously that third year isn’t much of a student of the business side of this game. Far more likely is that spending will go precipitously.
In the interim, expect a muted amount of saber rattling and posturing. Also expect clear thinking to prevail. The one thing the owners and the players in the NFL have always understood far better than the counterparts in the NHL, for example, is that in their sport they really do have a hen that lays golden eggs. Far better to feed it then kill it and start from scratch.