The National Football League lost $4 billion in revenue last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, causing the salary cap to sink for the first time in years. With the league rebounding even better than expected in 2021, the 2022 NFL salary cap will hit a record number this offseason.
As part of a joint agreement between the NFL and NFL Players Association, league members agreed on a $182.5 million cap ceiling for this season. It would soften the economic blow for both teams and players, spreading out the financial hit from a year prior across multiple seasons.
Under that deal, the two sides agreed to set the ceiling for the 2022 NFL salary cap at $208.2 million. The 2021 season isn’t even over, with more revenue coming in, but the league is already anticipating the best-case scenario for all parties.
According to NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, next season’s salary cap is expected to reach the $208.2 million maximum previously agreed upon. Not only is it a significant improvement from the 2021 cap but it also pushes the league past a $200 million cap ceiling for the first time in NFL history.
This was always the expected outcome. Even before the season kicked off, many around the league believed the 2022 NFL salary cap would skyrocket. For a variety of reasons, that’s exactly what will happen.
Why the 2022 NFL salary cap is rising
A year after NFL TV ratings plummeted, though still dominating over other sports, viewership is back up to its normal levels. In fact, the average NFL television viewership through Week 12 was higher than it was in 2019. Months after the NFL signed a bundle of broadcasting deals worth $100-plus million, things look even more promising.
But there are also additional sources of revenue that are driving the salary cap up next year. Fans are allowed in stadiums once again, bringing in even more sources of profits for teams. As Rapoport also notes, local revenue has returned to its normal levels for teams across the league.
The NFL also anticipates pulling in more than $250 million from its agreement with betting partners. Pair that with the expansion to a 17-game schedule and the league will enjoy record-setting revenue when the final numbers come in.
Of course, the 2022 NFL salary cap will only hold the record for long. The league’s new TV deals kick in for the 2023 season, which means the salary cap will spike even more. Thanks to the CBA signed in 2020, players will receive a larger share of the revenue and we’ll see teams spending more than ever.