TV deal OK'd 30 percent rise in salary cap

January 23, 1998|By Vito Stellino | Vito Stellino,SUN STAFF

SAN DIEGO -- This is going to be a good year to be an NFL free agent.

That's because the NFL salary cap is likely to jump to between $53 million and $55 million in 1998, according to a league source.

NFL owners, who rarely reach a consensus on any matter, finally cast a unanimous vote yesterday to approve the $17.6 billion television deal.

Although the league hasn't crunched all the numbers yet, a league source said the estimates are that the new salary cap will go up more than 30 percent over the 1997 cap number of $41.45 million.

Although the teams will average $73 million in the deal, the cap will go over that figure in later years because the numbers are staggered.

The Ravens will have a lot of room under the cap to pursue free TTC agents. On top of the $12 million to $14 million increase under the cap, the Ravens will free up the $7 million they were charged last year for players no longer on the team.

Despite the influx of new money, it doesn't guarantee labor peace in the future.

The current labor agreement has two capped years left and then an uncapped year in 2000, after which the current deal expires.

The owners and players had previously decided that unless one of the sides objects, the deal will be extended by a year. But NFL Players Association head Gene Upshaw said the players are "weighing our options" about refusing an extension.

Pub Date: 1/23/98

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