The NFL is in the middle of a major restructuring that will see some of its biggest stars move on to other leagues.
It’s not the first time the league has restructured its teams.
But this time, it’s a lot more severe, with players such as Odell Beckham Jr., Ezekiel Elliott, and Eric Ebron joining players such the Carolina Panthers’ Mike Tolbert and New Orleans Saints’ Mike Thomas.
NFL players are in a position to take a salary cut to make the team less expensive to play, and the league is now making players like Odell and Elliott pay.
It makes sense, since the salary cap was already set to increase to $120 million this season and could reach as high as $170 million next year.
And it’s also the league’s most valuable asset, making up a substantial chunk of the league total.
However, players like Ebron and Thomas are being paid more than they deserve, and they’re also getting a lot less than they should be.
According to an analysis of the Collective Bargaining Agreement by the Associated Press, the NFL’s top five salary earners were all over $20 million.
These players were making roughly $1.1 million per game.
And, according to ESPN Stats & Info, their average salaries were significantly lower than their salaries during the regular season.
That means that, even if the salary-cap increases are made permanent, the average player will end up making less than $100,000 per game this season.
“It’s a big step in the right direction,” said NFL Network analyst and former NFLPA executive director Greg Cosell, who co-authored the ESPN report.
“But, for players, the real problem is that the cap is set to grow by $10 million, and now we’re not talking about players making $15 million a year anymore, but players making less.”
Coseell said the new rules are a good first step, but the next step is the “unprecedented” increase in salaries for players under the age of 29 that is scheduled to begin in 2021.
According the AP, the salary threshold for this new system is set at $150,000.
Cosello said the NFL has not yet reached the $180 million mark in salary cap space, but that’s the amount of money the league currently has available for free agency.
The NFLPA did not immediately respond to multiple requests for comment.
If the salary limit for free agents does increase, it would likely come in the form of a draft pick, which could make the salaries of players such Odell, Elliott, or Thomas even higher.
In order to make room for free agent signings, teams have been able to cut players with injury history, or waive them before the season even begins.
These moves could result in a salary increase for Odell or Thomas, even though they are actually less than what the player would receive under the old system.
In the past, the only way the NFL could reduce salaries was by making the players pay more.
In 2015, players such Eric Decker, Greg Jennings, and Jason Witten earned between $11 million and $13 million per season, while the average salary for each of those players was just over $17 million.
And since the new salary-limit system was implemented, the league also reduced the salary for veterans, as well as new players, and waived contracts.
“The bottom line is that these guys are getting paid less than it should be,” Cosella said.
“I think they are getting the short end of the stick.
They are not getting the fair amount of pay.”