The league’s cap this year is $198.2 million. An entire season played without fans would drop that number to approximately $170 million, according to ESPN. The cap has risen by at least $10 million every year since 2013, and any reduction would change the market for draft picks and free agents. Only two of 32 first-round picks have signed this year, a number far below normal and a sign that teams are being fiscally conservative amid the uncertainty.
The players are unlikely to concede any additional salary after a hard-fought CBA deal resulted in their share of league revenues not falling below 47% in 2020 or 48% in 2021 and beyond. The salary cap is also calculated by a formula directly tied to league revenues.
Owners are expected to approach the players in the coming weeks to deal with pandemic-related revenue loss and ways to preserve the cap in 2021. The result could be more labor tension just as the 2020 season is about to get underway.