Players irate as NFL wants 35% of salaries in escrow

·2 min read
New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas says players will not play the 2020 season before accepting an NFL proposal to put 35% of their salaries in escrow to hedge against coronavirus-related financial shortfalls (AFP Photo/Jacob Kupferman) (GETTY IMAGES NORTH AMERICA/AFP/File)

New York (AFP) - An NFL proposal for 35% of players' 2020 season salaries to be put in escrow to cover possible revenue shortfalls from coronavirus issues was greeted with scorn by players Wednesday.

Economic issues similar to those that sparked a bitter three-month battle between Major League Baseball players and team owners loom over the NFL with training camps set to open July 28.

The NFL Network reported the escrow idea was suggested by the NFL in case billions of dollars in revenue are lost this year because spectators cannot attend league games.

Record COVID-19 outbreaks in Texas, Florida and Arizona in recent days have raised concerns about the NFL's plan to stage a full season with fans starting September 10 when Super Bowl champion Kansas City hosts Houston.

The NFL Players Asociation told its board of representatives, "Basically, we told them to kick rocks" in snubbing the idea, the report said, considering an escrow deal something that would have to be negotiated.

Players added their voices on social media, with New Orleans Saints receiver Michael Thomas tweeting: "Lol everyone will sit out and not play until they get their stuff together before we do this."

Figuring out how to settle possible losses from the pandemic led baseball to a three-month fight that ended with a minimal 60-game season.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell could be looking at imposing a salary cap hit of $50 million to $60 million per club for the 2021 season off revenue shortfalls if no fans can attend 2020 games.

The NFLPA would likely try to spread such a loss over 10 years to ease the immediate hit and allow for greater revenues in future media rights deals.

The last thing players want to do is offset ownership losses while playing in the middle of a pandemic.

"Has to be a joke lol," Thomas tweeted. "Roger and those owners better use their billions and put it in escrow or plan accordingly. Our health is way more important. This is about as backwards as it gets."

Eagles cornerback Darius Slay tweeted: "This bothers me! So u want me to risk my family health to play a game to pay your bills. No Sir."

Exact details on COVID-19 testing and precautions and agreement on the number of pre-season games are other items undetermined as workouts approach, players concerned about injuries as well as virus since they have lacked usual team off-season work due to the pandemic.

Another issue will involve players who want to opt out of the 2020 NFL campaign altogether over COVID-19 issues. Both sides expect some players to make that choice, but how it would impact their salary and when the deadline would fall to notify teams remain undecided.