The NFL and NFLPA negotiated a new collective bargaining agreement in 2011 that included a minimum cash spending rule. The idea was that the union wanted teams spending more money, and while a minimum cash spending requirement is much different than a minimum cap spending requirement, it still requires an outlay of money.
The minimum spending requirement provided two periods in which teams must meet the dollar figure. The first is 2013 to 2016, and the second will be 2017 to 2020. For the 2013-16 period, the minimum cash spending requirement is $493,549,500. According to the NFLPA, the San Francisco 49ers have spent $514,488,198 in cash from 2013 to 2016. That factors in salaries due the rest of the season, so releasing a player before the end of the regular season would lower that amount, and a contract extension could raise that amount.
Only one team has not met the requirement yet. The Oakland Raiders have spent $491,433,408. The NFLPA is reporting the average cash spend per team is $544,910,477. The Philadelphia Eagles top the list with $613,928,134 in spending. Aside from the Raiders, the only teams to spend less cash than the 49ers are the New England Patriots and Carolina Panthers.
It’s fascinating in some sense to see who is spending what cash. It does not really tell us where each team sits compared to the salary cap because it is cash-specific, but also because it covers four years. That means plenty of players will have come and gone long after they received the up-front cash.
Once this league year ends next March, the tracker will re-set and teams will have to meet the new spending requirement from 2017-2020. If the Raiders do not spend $2.2 million more between now and the end of the league year, Article 12, Section 9(b) states that:
Any shortfall in the Minimum Team Cash Spending at the end of a League Year in which it is applicable (i.e., the 2016 and 2020 League Years) shall be paid, on or before the next September 15, by the Team having such shortfall, directly to the players who were on such a Team’s roster at any time during the applicable seasons, pursuant to the reasonable allocation instructions of the NFLPA.
Here is a look at how the cash spending looks thus far. Just a reminder, cash spending means the money paid up front. So, a $10 million signing bonus paid on a 5-year deal in 2016 counts as $10 minimum in 2016 for cash spending. For cap purposes, it counts as $2 million per year from 2016 to 2020.