2021 NFL salary cap reportedly set at $182.5M in first decrease since 2011

The 2021 NFL salary cap will be $182.5 million per club, the league informed teams Wednesday, according to multiple reports. It is a decrease of 8 percent from last season, but the cap didn't fall as low as initially feared.

It is approximately $15.7 million less than the 2021 cap of $198.2 million because of the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic and not having full stadiums last season. There was a 92 percent drop in overall attendance due to attendance limits. Some stadiums and teams did not allow fans into games based on local restrictions.

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The cap is the lowest since 2010 when the NFL launched its first uncapped year since 1993. Cap limits had risen every year since 2011 with rising league revenues.

The NFL and NFL Players Association agreed last summer the cap would not be any lower than $175 million. They told teams last month to anticipate a cap of at least $180 million, per ESPN, with some reports it would be upward of $185 million.

The cap is determined based on negotiations and projected revenues, among other factors. Per ESPN, if there had not been negotiated projections the cap would have been at $160 million based on the 2020 projected revenues alone.

Under the new cap, the final franchise tag values range from approximately $10 million to $19 million.

Teams have until March 17 at 4 p.m. ET to be in compliance with the cap. That's when the 2021 NFL calendar begins. Many teams will have to make difficult moves to get under it. The cap finalization for franchise tags is less than 24 hours after the deadline passed and one week before free agency begins.


The cap is expected to increase next season when attendance moves back to normal as the country slowly pulls out of the pandemic. The NFL is also working to finalize new broadcast contracts that boost revenue.

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