Long Form: Tackling the Money. The NFL Money Ball

Money ball 2

A quick thought on the NFL. The league prides itself on a Cap system that keeps a level financial playing field. It isn’t like the MLB where big teams with big money win. That may soon change though. People are freaking out about a Matthew Stafford contract that frankly isn’t that crazy. Stafford is a solid NFL starter, solid NFL QBs are hard to come by, it’s simple economics. You pay a premium for a premium service, Stafford’s service is premium. That’s not the point though. I come to you today with a proclamation, the golden Salary Cap of the NFL is going to crumble into nothingness. Making way for the next glorious cycle, the free market era of the NFL.

So what does a free market look like? Jon Butler @JButlerPSF on twitter to explain.
“So basically every team has a team salary and it is all based on the team owners. A team’s owner sets the team salary based on the money they have coming in from ticket prices, concession sales, team memorabilia sales, etc. Teams that have a higher team salary can cross into the luxury tax, which causes them to pay more on top of the players’ salaries along with scouts, coaches, and more. The luxury tax is there to help keep a team’s roster salary below that level. If a team’s owner has to pay the luxury tax, it means less profit off of the team or higher prices for fans, which no one would want of course. Basically, there isn’t a salary cap for teams because it is based on the team’s income from many different ways (concerts, concessions, jersey sales, ticket prices). That’s why teams like the Yankees, Red Sox, Cubs are able to have higher payrolls than the Padres, Brewers, Athletics. The lower teams have a harder time keeping better players because of it and competing, but the teams paying the luxury tax lose out on profit. The NFL is also different because they have a shared revenue deal with each other rather than every team having their own revenue stream.”

It’s a simple principle that has existed since capital was first used in the river valley civilizations. If you have money you use it to buy the best products available. A free market would be good for the NFL as a whole as well, NFL teams would have to start pushing there brand more to get better players. If you have a more popular team and gain more revenue you are the first in line to the premium players. Is it unfair? Is the MLB system unfair? The Oakland Athletics have found a way around it for years by trading young players for draft picks and gaining new first class young talent every year. Imagine how much more exciting the trade deadline would be with a free market in the NFL? You wouldn’t have to suffer through good players on bad teams.
Take Allen Robinson of the Jacksonville Jaguars for example. He is one of the most talented young wide receivers in the league. The problem is the fact he is stuck on a team where his QB is Blake Bortles the Hindenburg of NFL Quarterbacks. In a Free Market NFL he would not have to suffer his current fate. To survive and stay competitive the Jags would have to trade Robinson to another team with draft picks. This benefits every party involved. The seller, the Jags get draft picks to start looking for there next QB project. The buyer, whoever gets Robinson gains a quality wide receiver. The fans, if you’re a Jags fan you always get to see the most exciting young talent because you can’t afford veteran talent. In other words lower class teams become developmental spots for young players and better teams get contending players. I see no down side to this, all around it is still competitive fun football.

Why? We are approaching the point in time that the salary cap is becoming something of a restraint. Why does a relief pitcher in the MLB make more than the GOAT Tom Brady? Brady would never ask that question because he’s the quintessential team player, but young players will. When Odell comes to the end of his contract do you really think he’s going to play for anything less than the biggest NFL salary in the leagues history? What about Marcus Mariota and Jameis Winston? Those two are the next faces of the NFL at QB. They will want lavish amounts of money. Winston and Mariota won’t settle for less than breaking the bank wide open, crushing the leagues precious cap as they fill their pockets with green.

Will this happen overnight? No. In the next five years though the financial landscape in the NFL will drastically change whether you want it to or not. It really isn’t your choice. The players will rise and demand the kind of money MLB and NBA players make. The only way to get that kind of money will be to break the salary cap wide open. It’s the only way for the NFL to exist in the current economic climate and still produce entertaining football. The Qin dynasty of China is a fantastic analogy for the NFL at the moment. The Qin fell mainly due to fundamental failures, and opium too, but focus on fundamentals. The Qin dynasty was built on the mandate of heaven (NFL salary cap) When that mandate was broken because of the outside influence of Europeans (players needing more money) the dynasty collapsed into chaos. The NFL needs to pre- emptily look into the next stage of Economic development or a collapse is likely and it could be minor or lead to major problems for the league. The golden mandate of the NFL salary cap is coming to a crashing conclusion, prepare yourself.


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