NFL War Rooms Open for Business
Salary Cap Boosted to $182.5 Million Per Team
The NFL told teams this week they will be allowed to operate from their team War Rooms both during the upcoming 2021 NFL Free Agency and the April NFL Draft. This returns the teams to their annual format that was interrupted last year due to the Pandemic. The 2020 NFL Draft in Las Vegas was canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, the entire NFL Draft was held virtually with every team’s personnel executives, coaches and scouts working privately from their homes, offices or third-party, offsite facilities.
Teams must still follow firm protocols like physical-distancing and wearing masks in rooms. Every team must submit a plan for its 2021 draft operations to the league by March 26th and approval by Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL’s chief medical officer. Currently, it is unlikely that fans will be permitted to attend this year’s NFL Draft.
The 2021 NFL Draft is scheduled to take place in Cleveland from April 29-May 1. As of now, it’s still on as planned with safety precautions. Teams are excited about the ability to get back to normal and gather in-person to discuss pro prospects who could shape their clubs for years.
The NFL office also informed teams that their salary cap will be officially set at $182.5 million. The NFL had previously set the salary cap floor at $180 million. Clubs were expecting the final figure to come somewhere between $180 million and $185 million.
The expected decrease is primarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced teams to compete in front of no or limited fans in stadiums throughout the season to accommodate safety protocols. With no or limited ‘Live Gate” for teams, the salary cap was cut by more than $15 million off the previous salary cap, which sat at $198.2 in 2020. The cap was $188.2 million in 2019 and $177.2 million in 2018. In addition to the salary cap, franchise tag values for the 2021 season were confirmed Wednesday. Ten players received the Franchise tag prior to the March 9th deadline.
The result of the huge decline in the 2021 salary cap, NFL teams have already begun a quick roster reduction of high-priced veterans. Many veteran players have been released ahead of the new league year, which begins on March 17, as clubs must get below the $182.5 million salary cap number. Despite a broad-based release of veterans leaguewide, the player movement of free agent veterans may be the slowest in years with many clubs very limited to pursue the new available talent.