Changes to the NFL salary cap, fantasy football edition (no, not that kind)

Its that time of the off season where we have a bit of a lull in football stuff, season is over no games, most free agency action has passed, draft is a ways away, and we have owners making up new rules and voting on them. We love to talk about that right? Heck look at the new OT rules, how many people (myself included) are commenting about how it should be or what's good/bad/etc about it. So for this installment I'd like to propose to the owners a series of changes to the salary cap that I think could be beneficial to the game, fans and/or players.

I'll list the proposals one at a time and then explain the context and whys at the bottom so everyone can go "that's stupid I'm not reading this" really early as opposed to just saying "too many words, I'm not reading this" in general. That said these ideas are not all or nothing, for instant proposal 1 can be the only one people want without needing the others, or all of them can be wanted.

Proposal 1: Increase the salary cap to equal the total "revenue" of the league, the minimum spend amount remains the same.

Proposal 2: Removal of void years, no more "post June 1st" designations

Proposal 3 revision A: Emphasis on team building via the draft, reduced cap calculations for single team players

Proposal 3 revision B: Removal of rookie contracts for purpose of cap calculations

Proposal 4 : The salary cap modifier based on state income tax rates

Those are my 5 (4.5) proposals below will be my explanations on why.

Proposal 1

The salary cap was first introduced in 1994 (95?) to combat the problem that some teams would not be able to compete with others who were in larger markets for talent. Now this was not actually true at the time as no team paid their players an amount that exceeded the revenue of any other team, but was more likely a worry about what could happen in the future.

How the salary cap is currently determined reads like a refrigerator instruction manual written by a lawyer in Sanskrit but the simplified version of it is all the money that is made in the NFL and teams gets put into a big pot and then redistributed evenly to all the other teams equally, so if a team can't fill a stadium while selling $20 tickets they aren't making less money than a team who sells out every game and has cheap seats going for $400 a pop. So the "market" that a team is in no longer determines how much money they as a team gets during the season.

The proposal basically allows teams to spend whatever percentage they want on player personnel up to this limit that is distributed, perhaps some adjustments made to the cost to run games being deducted by the revenue amount but I'm not going to go into those tiny details here.

The minimum amount of spending shall remain what it is now, which is like 85% of the current cap averaged over 5 years or something, but have it this current percentage of total revenue not of maximum cap allowance, so if currently 50% of cap goes to players times 85% means 42% of this "new cap" (aka all the money) would be guaranteed for player salaries, and this amount can be argued on a consistent basis by the NFLPA. Basically make owners decide how much they want to spend on players versus how much they keep to buy those diamond encrusted gold toilet in each of their 23 bathrooms of their mansion, or whether or not lockers made out of stamped steel versus sandalwood (a very VERY expensive wood if you didn't know), gives a little more meaning to going "all in" on a Super Bowl run.

Proposal 2

What do you get if you combine the DNA from a lawyer, a hedge fund manager and a corporate accountant? You get the void year. For something that is supposed to be a hard ceiling (salary cap) the act of allowing teams to borrow against future years by "creatively" inserting void years should not be allowed. Teams should not be able to restructure the last year of a players contract and having that extend for any number of years beyond the length of said contract, while yes the money is accountable when the player is released by the team it still effectively is borrowing because it spreads out the hit evenly over all the years including the void years regardless of the length remaining on the contract..

So void years shall not be allowed in any contract, nor shall restructuring be allowed that adds any years beyond the length of the contract, so teams may not restructure in the final year of a player's original contract since there are no years after that last year . While teams are free to extend the contract of a player, the original contract shall not be modified in any way that moves payment from that original contract into an extended contract.

Removal of the start of the league financial year, aka June 1st. Players shall not have debt obligations moved into the next year simply because they are removed from the team. This means teams need to be more careful about how they guarantee money to players or live with the consequence of having guaranteed money count against the team should they lose said player, including by not limited to cutting or restructuring other players in order to to cut/trade a player or being financially tied to a player on a team and not being allowed to cut said player if they don't have cap space that deals with it. Now if proposal 1 passes then there is less of an issue with this, but with any hard cap whether it's 50% of the revenue or 100% of the revenue there is a limit.

Proposal 3

The ability of teams to develop players or draft well should mean something again. This proposal creates an avenue to reward these abilities in teams instead of simply using draft picks as capital to acquire players that are drafted/developed by other teams.

Revision A: Any player that is drafted by a team shall have only a fraction of his salary count against the salary cap as long as that player remains on the team that drafted him and is never let go, i.e. cut and resigned or traded to another team only to come back some time later. This only applies to players drafted using picks, i.e. not UDFAs. This promotes some level of development within a team, and gives them a financial benefit. How much is this fraction? Something large, 80% range or so, so a 10M contract only counts 8M against the team for cap purposes

Revision B: Drafted rookie wages are not counted against the salary cap by the team that drafted said rookies, does not apply to UDFA rookies. While rookie wages typically are not a huge percentage of the salary cap it can add a significant portion based on when said rookies are drafted, e.g. Trey Lance on average is a 8.5M hit against the cap. By not counting drafted rookie contracts against the cap it makes draft picks that much more valuable by potentially adding cap space either the year they are drafted or down the road if you accumulate 1st round picks. This also can work in favor of league parity because the teams with the earliest draft picks tend to have the largest salaries associated to rookies so it would afford them extra cap room to sign existing talent (or do like Jacksonville and just give everyone money regardless of talent). This benefit would only apply to the team that drafts said player, if the player is cut and picked up by another team the salary shall count against the salary cap.

Proposal 4

There largely is a stigmata about playing in "high tax" states because players take home salary may not be as high as other states just by virtue of the tax law as a result making some teams more favorable than others. This serves to eliminate those inequities that are largely determined by where a team is based, aka states with "jock tax". Yearly calculations are made after the schedule is determined to find out what the effective tax rate will be on players salaries and a multiplication factor is applied to any contract for purposes of determining the cap liability of said contract.

This allows teams to pay a "little more" to players who might not get as much money otherwise due to tax rates, and not have it affect the salary cap of the team. I'm not going to go into details, but it does take into account if there are any differences on home or away games, whether or not the state has a progressive or flat tax rate, as well as any differences in how money is paid out, e.g. a signing bonus in a 0-tax state may not be taxable by away game states because it's not considered part of the salary. This "little more" is not part of the contract and is simply paid on top of whatever contract is earned as the team schedule that changes each year based on standing in a division could change the effective rate put on the player, also if a player is traded to another state that "little more" may change and should not be tied to the contract of the player and hence the new teams liability (or benefit). This basically means a 10M yearly contract will get the player the same amount of money regardless of what team they sign with.

So those are my proposals for addressing the salary cap, I look forward to the owners of the league to to vote 0-32 against all of them.

This is a FanPost and does not necessarily reflect the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors. It does reflect the views of this particular fan though, which is as important as the views of Niners Nation's writers or editors.