NBA teams are shelling out an incredible amount of dough for 2017’s free agent class. Golden State’s Steph Curry will be paid $201 million dollars for five seasons, while Kyle Lowry received $100 million for three years of work with the Toronto Raptors. Even lesser players like Jrue Holiday and Otto Porter got paid more than $100 million with their new contracts. NBA salaries are at a record high, and they have certainly caught the eye of another professional sports league.
Several players in the NFL have been vocal about the pay discrepancy between the two leagues. By comparison, the Pelicans’ Jrue Holiday received more money than the NFL’s Derek Carr, who became the league’s highest paid player of all-time. America’s most watched and profitable sport should have the highest paid players, but the math simply doesn’t work that way.
NFL Roster Sizes Affect Salaries
The NFL does generate more revenue than the NBA, but the league has significantly more mouths to feed. There are at least 1,696 players in the NFL during one season, while the NBA features a total of 450 players. For NFL players to receive salaries equivalent to their NBA counterparts, the league would have to quadruple its already astronomical profit.
The CBA Benefits Basketball Players
The NBA has structured its Collective Bargaining Agreement to favor the players. While the league is less profitable than the NFL, it’s overall payouts are more beneficial for the athletes. Basketball players receive half of the league’s total revenue, while football players get slightly less than that. The NBA also has a stricter cap on rookie salaries, creating more financial opportunity for veterans.
NFL players tweeting their disdain will likely point to the lesser known players who have bigger salaries than stars in their sport. Up until recently, the NFL did not have a cap on rookie contracts. This meant that players could potentially make more money than league veterans before ever stepping foot on to the field. Creating a rookie wage cap was one of the first steps the players and owners made to balance salaries.
While the NBA has a salary cap, teams are allowed to spend over the limit. It is a soft salary cap compared to the NFL’s hard cap, which fines teams for spending more than they are allowed. Player salaries will likely be the main topic of discussion when the NFL’s current CBA expires in 2020.