NFL’s proposal dramatically cuts player pay if season is canceled

The Collective Bargaining Agreement does not include a force majeure clause. The league is essentially trying to force the players to accept one after the fact.

The most recent proposal from the NFL to the NFL Players Association sets forth a lengthy and detailed schedule of payments to be made in the event the season is suspended or canceled.

For starters, players would keep all signing, roster, reporting, or workout bonuses earned before cancellation of the season, along with base salary and per-game roster bonuses or per-game payments earned for any regular-season games actually played.

If the season is canceled before training camp opens, the players would get no further payment. If the season is canceled after training camp starts and before final roster cuts, all players on the 90-man roster who received a credited/accrued season in 2019 or who were drafted in 2020 would receive a $250,000 stipend, reduced by all other payments already made to the player this year. (For example, if a player received a $100,000 signing bonus, he’d receive $150,000 upon cancellation of the season. Any player who has received $250,000 or more this year would get nothing.)

If the season is canceled after the final roster cuts and before Week One, players on the 53-man roster and injured reserve or reserve/PUP would be eligible for the $250,000 stipend. Players on the practice squad would be eligible for a $100,000 stipend.

If the season is canceled during the regular season, players on the 53-man roster and injured reserve or reserve/PUP would be eligible for the $250,000 stipend, but money earned from regular-season games already played would also count against the stipend. Players on the practice squad would be eligible for a $100,000 stipend, minus other money earned.

For players who join the active roster after Week One, they would receive the lesser of $250,000 or their remaining prorated base salary. Players who join the practice squad after Week One would receive the lesser of $10,000 or their remaining prorated practice squad pay.

Incentives would be prorated and partially earned, as long as at least eight regular-season games are played by the player’s team. If, for example, a player has an incentive that pays him $1.6 million for 16 sacks, the incentive would drop to $1.2 million and the threshold would drop to 12 sacks if only 12 games are played.

Apart from the stipends, players will not be paid for games not actually played — even if player salaries are guaranteed for injury, skill, and/or salary cap.

Again, this is the league’s proposal. The players can adhere to the current status quo, which gives players their full salaries if only one game is played. The approach proposed by the league would reduce player pay dramatically, but it also would reduce the eventual financial consequences of the pandemic.