Withheld Ticket Revenue By NFL Should Result In An Even Higher 2016 Salary Cap Number

At some point during the next two weeks the salary cap number for the 2016 season will be set and released to the public. On Monday, however, a report in the Wall Street Journal stating that an arbitrator has found that NFL owners have been mischaracterizing millions in ticket revenue by creating improper exemptions, could result in another $50 million for the players and thus a possible salary cap increase of $1.5 million per team.

“They created an exemption out of a fiction and they got caught,” NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith told Matthew Futterman, who went on to report that the league called the mischaracterizations a “technical accounting issue under the CBA involving the funding of stadium construction and renovation projects.”

With Monday’s news, we could now see the 2016 NFL salary cap number come it at around $156.5 million. Heading into this week, many have speculated over the course of the last two weeks that the 2016 number would be $155 million.

Following the retirement of tight end Heath Miller on Friday and the signing of defensive lineman Roy Philon on Monday, the Pittsburgh Steelers Rule of 51 number (top 51 cap charges in addition to dead money) should be right around $146.8 million. That number, however, does not include a projected rollover of $3,000,327 in unused cap space from the 2015 season. If you were to count the number, the Steelers could be nearly $12.7 million under a $156.5 million cap number. When you factor in projected offseason roster bonuses and a projected cap credit payback charge in 2016, the Steelers would still be roughly $11 million under a $156.5 million cap number.

On Wednesday, Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert will be the first NFL team executive to meet the media at the 2016 NFL Scouting Combine and it will be interesting to see if he’s again asked about the team’s current cap situation as the team prepares for the new league year.

The Steelers are expected to announce a few contract restructures once they return from Indianapolis and those moves will result in even more cap space for 2016. The team also figure to be able to re-sign a few of their own free agents over the course of the next few weeks.