Tampa Bay Buccaneers star Tom Brady questioned whether the math adds up after Forbes' Mike Ozanian and Christina Settimi estimated the average value of an NFL franchise climbed 14 percent over the last year.
That rosy financial outlook came despite the COVID-19 pandemic adversely impacting the league's finances, which caused the NFL salary cap to fall by eight percent to $182.5 million.
Brady wrote on Instagram that NFL players "better wake up" and think they're "ignorant" of the big picture:
There's no question the NFL and its 32 teams lost money as games were staged with limited attendances or no fans whatsoever. Sports Business Journal's Ben Fischer reported in March the league's revenue fell from $16 billion to $12 billion in 2020.
Commissioner Roger Goodell and team owners could still rest easy knowing the NFL was due to cash in with new television contracts.
Shortly after Fischer's report, the league announced agreements with Amazon, CBS, ESPN/ABC, Fox and NBC that will begin in 2023 and carry through 2033. Collectively, the deals will bring in around $110 billion.
As Brady referenced, the extent of the windfall only became clear after the 2021 salary cap was revealed. It's not a surprise that some players would feel they're bearing the brunt of the pandemic while owners and league officials see their revenues climb.
One problem for Brady and those who share his views is that the current collective bargaining agreement was ratified in March 2020 and carries on through 2030. Securing long-term labor peace can carry unintended consequences.
NFL Network's Tom Pelissero also reported in May the NFL and NFL Players Association have already agreed to a salary ceiling for 2022:
Tom Pelissero @TomPelissero
The NFL and NFLPA have agreed to a $208.2 million salary cap ceiling for 2022, per source. <br><br>There is no cap floor as of now. The sides agreed last August to spread the COVID-related revenue shortfall from 2020 over several years, and the cap dropped to $182.5M this year.
For NFL players, challenging the status quo might prove difficult.