NFL parity, free agency, and the salary cap. Should any changes be made?

Another NFL offseason is upon us and I’ve been contemplating the salary cap and parity in the NFL. Do you all think there should be any modifications that would increase interest in the game? This past season the ratings for the NFL were down, and while I wouldn’t place the blame on an attempt at parity, I wonder if a tweak to the system might help increase the fans interest.

My suggestion is that players on their original team should not count towards the salary cap. There could still be a salary cap for free agent acquisitions to keep a few rich teams from getting all the top free agents, but not for “homegrown” players. The idea is that teams would not be punished for drafting well and fans would not be punished by having the players they are fans of leave to other teams just because they are too talented and their current team has too many other talented players. As far as I can tell such a system would be a benefit to the players as well, since they could get a larger contract by staying with their original team if it wouldn’t count against that team’s salary cap. The only losers I see in this type of system are teams that draft poorly and rely on the free agent market to build their roster. What do you all think?

Sounds a bit like the NBA’s “Larry Bird Exemption.”

I’m not sure that many NFL teams often run into a situation of “we’d really like to re-sign this guy, and we love him, but we’re hard against the cap, and we have to let him go.” ISTM that most players whose teams let them go to unrestricted free agency are players whose original teams like them, but don’t like them enough to pay them what the market (i.e., some other team) is willing to pay them.

Given that, and given the fact that if a team is running into cap trouble, it’s nearly always due to “dead money” (i.e., they committed to contracts for players who are no longer with the team…often the result of poor management decisions, and / or overpaying for free agents), I’m not sure that there’s a good reason to revise the salary cap rules.

As a Cowboys fan, a lot of us still would have like to keep DeMarcus Ware. And he left under exactly those circumstances.

How about something like: for every contiguous year a player has been on his team 5% doesn’t count against the cap, up to a max 25%. So for players who have been with a team for 4 years, only 80% of their salary counts against the cap. The % probably needs to be tweaked, but something like that.

That would be a good start. I would be in favor of that kind of plan.

I would like to see a system in which there is no dead money, no guaranteed money, etc.

If you have a 4-year, $20 million contract, paying five million dollars per year, then the team can cut you at any time and not be on the hook for anything more.

Teams are battling against each other for the services of the players. If they can’t compete on guaranteed money then players are just going to insist on getting more per year and won’t care about number of years. Your plan puts way too much control in the hands of the team and will result in teams offering outrageous sums of money for extremely short player rentals.

I could see modifications to how cap space is calculated but top players are going to get paid one way or the other. I see no reason to punish them for the fact that the NFL is making money hand over fist.

That’s how you get players walking out. The NFL is the only major sport I can think of that has cancellable contracts. The reason players (and their agents) accept this is the guaranteed money. It’s also the easiest way to evaluate a contract. Look at the signing bonus and the first year’s salary - the rest is negotiable fluff.

I remember when NFL fans used to point at MLB’s lack of a (real) cap and cry about parity. Hilarious.

If I recall, Ware was already signed. The Cowboys wanted to re-do his deal, but they didn’t have to release him. If he didn’t want to re-do his deal, they could have kept him under the contract that was already in place.

I could live with the kind of change proposed by Deeg, but I don’t know if it’s necessary in the NFL. NBA hometown teams have an advantage in signing their own free agents, but the league has terrible parity.

The harder PATs really changed the games BUT as some have pointed out, it forces the team to choose between a kick or a 2 point try before the play. I say make the try from the same place but 1 point tries must be by dropkick.