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Arbitrator Concludes NFL Withheld $120 Million from Players Over Last Three Seasons
For the last three years, the NFL has not given players all the money to which they were entitled.
The NFL calls it a “technical accounting issue.” The NFL Players Association says they “created an exemption out of a fiction and they got caught.” But however you want to look at it, what it comes down to is the owners have to fork over about $120 million in shared revenue that they withheld. And as a result the salary cap for 2016 is going to increase by $2 million, from about $154 million to $156 million.
Under the terms of the current collective bargaining agreement, the NFL must share a certain percentage of its revenue with the players. They put the money into a collective pool, and it gets distributed accordingly. However, the NFL gets three exemptions. They do not have to share revenue from personal seat licenses, premium seating, and stadium naming rights.
When the NFLPA’s accountants audited the NFL’s books, they found that the league had “created another category of exempted money that isn’t in the collective bargaining agreement.” An NFL spokesman tried to play it off life some kind of honest mistake, saying the issue involved “the funding of stadium construction and renovation projects.” But an arbitrator sided with the NFLPA.
Obviously, the money itself is not going to make a big difference to most players. Even if the NFLPA distributed the $120 million evenly to every player in the league, that would only be about $70,000 a piece. What will make a difference is the additional $2 million in cap space, which could mean an extra year on some guys’ contracts.