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Coaches should benefit from salary-cap surge, but they likely won't

The timing of the NFL's salary-cap surge of more than $30 million probably wasn't calculated to happen after the 2024 coaching carousel stopped spinning, but it didn't hurt. If the incoming coaches had known how much player pay would be increasing this year, they might have wanted more than whatever they got from their new teams.

Not that it would matter. The owners have done a great job of holding the line on NFL coaching pay.

It's one of the realities of coaches not being unionized. Of course, if coaches ever tried to organize and collectively bargain, the owners would claim that head coaches don't qualify, since they're members of management. And the head coaches are the ones who, frankly, are getting the short end of the salary stick, thanks to what appears to be decades of collusion.

The suspicion among some coaches has been rampant. The second-hand tales of the smoking-gun comments owners make to other owners during league meetings are there, if you listen closely enough.

As to players, the salary cap prevents them from launching a bidding war. As to coaches, it's a loose, wink-nod understanding that the bank won't be broken by one. Because then it could be broken by all.

That's one of the reasons why the best coaches have an official salary that the team pays, along with other unofficial (and unknown) payments coming from other companies the owner operates. It's why no one knows what Bill Belichick was making in New England. If others aren't aware of the top of the market, it becomes harder for other coaches to try to get there.

At the lower end of the spectrum, a rough range seems to exist for entry-level coaches. And when one new coach supposedly tried to get fair value this year, the oligarchs activated the Schefty phone to push the idea that Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson "spooked some teams" by asking for too much money — without saying, of course, how much he wanted.

Maybe Johnson's expectations were reasonable. Maybe the owners are being cheap. Maybe they are colluding.

If they aren't, now is the time to share the wealth with the men who literally stir the drink. If a low-end veteran quarterback is worth $25 million per year, how is the average head coach not getting the same kind of money?

Here's how. One, there's no union. Two, there's apparent collusion. Three, the league is banking on no one ever doing anything about it.