Does the Salary Cap Have a Floor?

As there is no salary cap floor, what measures are in place to ensure that teams spend money on player salaries?

There is no salary cap floor requiring teams to spend a required amount on players in a particular season. However, there are cash spending guarantees at both a team level and league level that ensures that a minimum amount of cash is spent on player salaries.

Minimum Team Cash Spending

For each of the following four-League Year periods, 2013–2016 and 2017–2020, there is a guaranteed Minimum Team Cash Spending of 89% of the Salary Cap on a cumulative basis. For example, if the Salary Caps for the 2013–16 would be $100, 120, 130, and 150 million, respectively, for a total of $500 million over the 4 your period, each Club would have a Minimum Team Cash Spending over that  period of $445 million (89% of $500 million). Should a team’s cash spending be less than 89% of the cap ($445 million in our example) at the end of one of those periods (2016 or 2020), the club must pay out the shortfall by the next September 15, to the players who were on the team during those seasons, based on the allocation instructions of the NFLPA.

Guaranteed Cash Spending

For those same four-League-Year periods of 2013–16 and 2017–20, there is a Guaranteed League-Wide Cash Spending of 95% of the Salary Caps on a cumulative basis. Using the same example as above, if the Salary Caps for the 2013–16 League Years were $100, 120, 130, and 150 million, and there are 32 teams in the League  for those seasons, the available cap space for those seasons league-wide would be $16 billion [($100M+$120M+$130M+$150M) x 32]. The guaranteed league-wide cash spending over that four-year period would be $15.2 billion (95% of the available cap space).

Any shortfall in the League-Wide Cash Spending at the end of the 2016 or 2020 League Years is paid to the players who were in the league during those seasons based on an allocation determined by the NFLPA. The League-Wide shortfall is reduced by any Minimum Team Cash Spending shortfall payments made by teams pursuant to the Minimum Team Cash Spending rule.

Cash spending consists of 1) Paragraph 5 salary earned or paid; (2) signing bonus amounts earned or paid without regard to proration and (3) any other bonus or payments such as roster bonuses, reporting bonuses, offseason workout bonuses, grievance or injury awards, or Paragraph 5 Salary advances.