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 by Elvis
3 weeks ago
 Total posts:   28844  
 Joined:  Mar 28 2015
United States of America   Los Angeles
Administrator

https://www.nfl.com/news/salary-cap-vac ... s-for-2021

Salary cap, vaccinations among NFL's big questions for 2021

Published: Feb 03, 2021 at 09:33 PM

Tom Pelissero
NFL.com Reporter

TAMPA, Fla. -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith will address reporters on Thursday afternoon in advance of Super Bowl LV -- the culmination of what by any measure has been a remarkably successful 2020 season, with no games canceled amidst the COVID-19 pandemic.

Behind the scenes, there already is work taking place among the league, union and clubs to prepare for a whole new set of challenges and unknowns with COVID continuing to interrupt business as usual in 2021.

Here's a look at where things stand on several key matters, based on recent conversations with sources:

Salary cap

The NFL and NFLPA began preliminary negotiations last month on the 2021 salary cap. Some team officials believe (and surely hope) the cap will ultimately land closer to $185 million per club -- if not a little higher -- than the $175 million minimum the sides agreed to last summer as they braced for empty and mostly empty stadiums.

The league didn't provide clubs with its annual cap projection at the delayed labor seminar Tuesday, nor has it committed to exactly how to spread the impact of an unprecedented multibillion-dollar revenue shortfall in 2020 over the next few years. (Each year's cap is based on revenue projections for the following season, as well as a "true-up" from the prior year projection. Had the sides not agreed to the $175 million floor for 2021 as part of an overall package on COVID-related economic matters, spreading this year's shortfall into future years, the cap would have plummeted much further from this season's $198.2 million per club.)

Chiefs owner Clark Hunt told reporters this week the final number may not be set until "hours before the start of the league year" March 17. More realistically, teams may find out the number just days before the free-agent negotiating period begins March 15, with the league and union taking all the time possible to assess the climate and budget for the impact of at least one new media deal, which must be finalized before the NFL makes the expected move to a 17-game regular season in 2021.

Some teams did find some added local revenue streams for 2020, though that's not expected to have a major impact on the 2021 cap. And there are still many unknowns.

Attendance

The biggest unknown in projecting revenue for 2021: Will stadiums be full come September?

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in early December he anticipated it "probably will be well into the end of the summer" before sports stadiums could return to capacity. And the pace of vaccinations nationally so far has lagged behind initial projections.

When I asked the league's chief medical officer, Dr. Allen Sills, on Wednesday about Fauci's statement and the greatest barrier to NFL stadiums being full this fall, Sills replied "I sure hope he's right" and emphasized the safety and efficacy of the vaccines (which the NFL is promoting by inviting 7,500 vaccinated healthcare workers to Super Bowl LV), while also expressing personal belief that supplies will increase substantially.

Even if the general population hasn't achieved herd immunity by September, most teams likely could find 65,000 card-carrying vaccinated fans willing to buy tickets. The problem with that approach is it also means telling anyone who can't, or won't, get vaccinated that they can't come, especially if those people are season-ticket holders.

Vaccinations, protocols and rules changes

The NFL cannot unilaterally require players to be vaccinated once they're eligible, since that'd represent a change in working conditions subject to bargaining. Ideally, education will encourage most players to do so on their own, though it's worth noting a relatively small percentage heeded recommendations by league and union medical experts to get flu shots this past fall.

Roger Goodell and DeMaurice Smith have each said repeatedly the NFL won't skip the line when it comes to getting players and other personnel vaccinated. To that end, on a call with agents Jan. 19, Smith told agents there's no "rosy outlook" on widespread vaccinations of players in the coming months and "we're planning for an offseason that looks a lot like last offseason" in terms of organized team activities, minicamps, etc., going all-virtual.

Goodell has already expressed support for some permanent changes to rules on offseason work, such as more virtual training and a longer ramp-up period at the start of training camp. Some other one-year rule changes that were popular with clubs, such as expanded practice squads, have strong support, too.

All of that is subject to bargaining with the union, as are the COVID protocols that evolved over the course of the 2020 season, with all teams placed in the so-called intensive protocols by mid-November, expanding mask requirements and other restrictions.

Free agency

It's all a little unpredictable until the final cap number is known, but every team official says free agency won't be normal. The first wave likely will still get paid, but then the bottom may fall out, leading to a lot of one-year deals.

The further the cap drops, the more veterans who may be cut, turning it into a buyer's market, particularly among those teams that prefer to sign "street" free agents anyway to help with the compensatory draft pick formula.

There's also some sentiment that fewer franchise tags will be applied, and certainly fewer than the 14 applied a year ago, since teams may be more reluctant to carry large one-year numbers on their caps in hopes of doing long-term deals before the July 15 deadline.

Draft

For now, the draft is on in Cleveland from April 29 to May 1. But all the work by clubs leading up to it will be abnormal again.

The annual scouting combine as we know it is off. Private workouts, facility visits, dinners and film sessions with draft prospects are banned. Medical exams are limited. The only in-person access teams have to prospects are at the recently concluded all-star games and upcoming pro days, where each club will be limited to three representatives on campus -- or fewer if required by state and local regulations that in some cases also may restrict in-person contact with players.

Like a year ago, teams will log a lot of hours on FaceTime and probably draft a player or two without ever shaking their hand.

2020, meet 2021.

 by aeneas1
3 weeks ago
 Total posts:   15940  
 Joined:  Sep 13 2015
United States of America   Norcal
RFU Survivor Champ

i think officiating should have been included in that list, the impact of offensive holding no-calls was tremendous, down 40% from 2019, will it continue in 2021, is it the new normal in the nfl?

 by Elvis
3 weeks ago
 Total posts:   28844  
 Joined:  Mar 28 2015
United States of America   Los Angeles
Administrator

From the Athletic:

The NFL hasn’t yet announced its cap ceiling for the 2021 season, and it might not for several more weeks. The rumored figure is $176 million, down from $198.2 million in 2020, although NFL Network reported Wednesday that the figure could be several millions of dollars higher. Any reduction would be noteworthy — the cap has increased every year except for one since it was instituted in 1994 — but this one could be drastic.


$176 would certainly be on the low end...

 by AvengerRam
3 weeks ago
 Total posts:   6302  
 Joined:  Oct 03 2017
Israel   Longwood, FL
Moderator

RE: Vaccinations...

The article is correct that, because the NFL players are unionized, the NFL can't unilaterally mandate vaccines (unlike the average employer, which, subject to certain exceptions, generally can).

What I wonder is... if the NFL were to propose a vaccine presumption, meaning that a rule is adopted that would require players to either get vaccinated or seek an exemption for good cause (i.e. an allergy that would make the vaccine dangerous), would the union balk? Perhaps they would merely to have something to horse-trade for benefits they desire, but the optics on such a battle would be suspect. Would the fan base sympathize with players, as a group, resisting being vaccinated?

This will be interesting.

 by Elvis
3 weeks ago
 Total posts:   28844  
 Joined:  Mar 28 2015
United States of America   Los Angeles
Administrator

I know the headline and emphasis are about diversity but a lot in here about what the off season is gonna look like going forward:

https://www.espn.com/nfl/story/_/id/308 ... s-expected

NFL's Roger Goodell: Two minority head coach hirings 'wasn't what we expected'

Jenna Laine
ESPN Staff Writer

TAMPA, Fla. -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell expressed disappointment Thursday that only two minorities were hired for seven head-coaching openings despite a growing pool of qualified candidates.

"I'm not sure there's an issue we spent more time with our ownership on," Goodell said as part of his annual state-of-the-league address ahead of Sunday's Super Bowl. "Our ownership is committed and focused on this."

The commissioner emphasized that lack of diversity isn't just a head-coaching issue but an issue throughout positions on all clubs.

"It's much broader than just head coaches for us," he said. "But head coaches is important. And we put a lot of our policies and focus on that this year. As you know, we had two minority coaches hired this year. But it wasn't what we expected, and it's not what we expect going forward."

The two head coaches he referenced are the New York Jets' Robert Saleh, who is of Lebanese descent, and the Houston Texans' David Culley, who is Black. They joined Pittsburgh's Mike Tomlin, Miami's Brian Flores and Washington's Ron Rivera as the league's only minority head coaches.

That's in stark contrast to the league's player base, which is about 70% minority.

Goodell said he has had and will continue to have discussions with candidates -- the successful and the unsuccessful -- and teams over what went right and wrong in interviews in order to come up with better solutions.

"They're not the outcomes we wanted, and we're committed more than ever to make sure we do that. But we want it to be a natural process," Goodell said.

Kansas City Chiefs offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy again did not receive a job offer, nor did Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive coordinator Todd Bowles. Tampa Bay offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich didn't even receive an interview, despite his work with Tom Brady this season, assimilating the veteran quarterback into Bruce Arians' offense with no offseason and reaching the Super Bowl.

"It does frustrate players," linebacker Wesley Woodyard said during the NFLPA news conference. "We see ourselves as potential leaders within the NFL community. We aspire to be head coaches. We want to be GMs. But if you have guys like Eric Bieniemy, who's been an NFL legend, who's done great things within his offense, with the team that he's on, going to back-to-back Super Bowls -- that frustrates us as players."

"There has to be a platform to where we can hold each other accountable, to where the conversation continues to keeps rolling, to where these GMs, these owners have no choice but to say, 'Hey, we have to seriously check ourselves because this is an issue that has been going on. We put this rule in 17 years ago, and there has not been any kind of change."

Bucs coach Arians argued this week that teams should wait until after the Super Bowl to make coaching hires because coaches on playoff teams are essentially penalized.

But Goodell believes that the ability to do interviews virtually helped candidates, including Bieniemy, by allowing them to interview during the postseason without disruption to their game preparations.

"I think what we have really talked an awful lot about is slowing the process down and making sure teams have the opportunity to look at a diverse slate of candidates to really understand some of those candidates and the qualities that they bring, that they may not have been exposed to, for some reason or another," Goodell said, adding that they will look to see if there are some additional changes they can make.

"I know people want to focus on the head coach, but there were a lot of positives -- three new general managers that are African American," Goodell said, pointing to the hiring of Martin Mayhew with the Washington Football Team, Terry Fontenot with the Atlanta Falcons and Brad Holmes with the Detroit Lions.

"There's a lot more diversity in the coordinator position also, and across the league," Goodell said. "But we're not satisfied. And we feel like we can do better, and we're going to."

Goodell also addressed how the league handled the coronavirus this season.

He noted that there were times when there were doubts as to whether the league would be able to get a handle on the virus. Some 24 members of the Tennessee Titans organization, including 13 players, tested positive over a 2½-week period and forced the closure of team facilities.

The Week 12 matchup between Pittsburgh and Baltimore was also postponed three times due to 22 Ravens players being placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list. The game ultimately was played on a Wednesday.

"We were down to the final days in that Pittsburgh-Baltimore game. Had that not cleared on that Monday afternoon, that Tuesday morning, we probably would not have been able to play that Wednesday game," Goodell said.

Although Goodell is not certain what's in store this upcoming year, he believes "virtual is going to be part of our life for the long term," particularly in the offseason, pointing to teams being able to successfully install new offenses via videoconference, without needing to be together in one place, which is something players have supported.

"It was smarter," said NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith, who joined Goodell on stage in a show of unity. "The fact that you just didn't have guys holed up in a facility for hours on end and just killing time, the fact that we are actually able to do things via teleconference and Skype and Zoom, it's all about being smarter."

NFLPA president JC Tretter, who joined the union's news conference virtually, added that players felt mentally and physically sharper at the end of the season as a result of less time at facilities.

"We've had this false reality that that's necessary -- a ton of reps are necessary -- as we watch our bodies break down by the end of the year every year," Tretter said.

The NFL will continue to test players and staff members during the offseason, as it's not clear when vaccines will be available for them. Reaffirming his stance from December, Goodell said that the NFL would not jump to the front of the line for vaccinations, which Smith echoed.

"I wish I knew the answer to that," Goodell said. "One of the things that I have learned and all of us have learned is not to project too much in advance. ... I don't know when normal is going to be, and I don't know if normal will ever exist again. I know that we have learned to operate in a very difficult environment and have solutions, and we sure can do it again."

Smith expressed skepticism that all players and coaches could be vaccinated by September, but he pointed to the effectiveness of mask wearing, testing and contact tracing as solutions until that day arrives.

"The reality is -- just the math, there's 253 million adults in the country. The country needs to reach 75, 85% of those people to be vaccinated in order for us to reach herd immunity," Smith said. "To think that we're going to be at a vaccine-neutral state in September is probably not the case.

"What we've done has worked incredibly well. And it has not been perfect by any stretch. But I think that the way that we have crafted the protocols, we've enforced the protocols -- some teams and some coaches are a little bit lighter in the pocketbook because of it -- but I think if we can wrap our hands around the things that have worked and employ them again this season, I don't have any doubts about our season."

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14 posts Feb 27 2021