Report: NFL Proposes Holding 35% of Player Salaries in Escrow During 2020 Season

Timothy Rapp@@TRappaRTFeatured ColumnistJuly 7, 2020

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones prior to an NFL football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Washington Redskins in Arlington, Texas, Sunday, Dec. 15, 2019. (AP Photo/Ron Jenkins)
Ron Jenkins/Associated Press

The NFL reportedly pitched the NFLPA a potential plan to hold 35 percent of player salaries in escrow to "help manage costs during the 2020 season" in the event that the COVID-19 pandemic affects league revenue, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network. 

The NFLPA's response?

"Basically, we told them to kick rocks," NFLPA executive Don Davis told players during a conference call, per Pelissero. The union said any escrow plan must be collectively bargained. 

With the NFLPA voting to cancel the entire preseason, the looming possibility of having no fans in the stands due to the coronavirus pandemic and even the possibility of postponed or canceled games, the NFL is facing the prospect of a reduced revenue stream. 

But as Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk wrote, the players may see any prospective financial losses as the burden of the owners:

"Regardless, it would be easy for the players to say that, when things are going well, the league doesn't give extra money to the players. And the players never get any of the ever-increasing value of the 32 franchises. Thus, the players could take the position that the deal is the deal—just like the league and plenty of media members say whenever there's an aspect of the CBA that, as applied, hurts the broader interests of the players."

Florio also noted that "if no games are played, the league would be able to argue under the language of the standard player contract that no duty to pay player salaries ever arises. If only one game is played, the CBA supports an argument that the players get their full pay."

That means—barring the season being played as scheduled with fans in attendance (the latter part being a major long shot) or a compromise between the sides—that a labor dispute could be on the horizon, similar to what occurred in Major League Baseball. 

For now, training camps are scheduled to begin in late July and the regular season is scheduled to begin in early September. But it sounds like a lot of negotiating will have to happen in between given the financial complications stemming from the COVID-19 pandemic.