Is the NFL afraid of Salary Cap Chess?
The NFL refused to approve the sign and trade deal between the Saints and Team X. They do not want salary cap space used as a commodity to be bought and sold as a part of team acquisitions.
Of course, this is absolutely absurd. To refuse a trade on these grounds goes against many things including the collective bargaining agreement which seems to be completely silent on the matter (If I am wrong please enlighten me).
Further, it betrays an old school mentality that the salary cap is only to be used for player salaries. That is, cap space is supposed to be used for paying players to play football for your team. Any other usage is apparently out of bounds.
It also betrays the idea that NFL executives are not only stuck in the ways of the past but that they may not understand what is actually happening. Another theory that the NFL nixed the trade due to fear that tanking teams would employ the strategy.
This idea fundamentally fails to grasp what is at stake here. Teams attempting to tank for a high draft pick are not taking on salaries. Instead, they are dropping salaries to open up as much cap rollover as possible (at least they should be). This is what the Browns did under Sashi and the Jacksonville Jaguars might be attempting now (except they are paying two linebackers a combined 24 million next season so who knows what they are doing).
A team playing cap chess is not a team that is tanking. Instead, they are a team who is using their abundant cap space as a means to improve their team by means other than signing players.
Such an innovative and new strategy seems to scare the hell out of NFL executives. Thus they are looking to eliminate it by not approving trades.
The Browns are light years ahead of the NFL in salary cap management. They are truly playing a fundamentally different game with their salary cap than everyone else.
In doing so, they have a significant advantage over any team still playing salary cap checkers. So much so that the NFL has taken measures to take away the advantage gained by the Browns.
The NFL banned helmet radios for 38 years before finally catching up to the Browns. How long will it take the NFL to see the advantage of salary cap chess?
Let’s hope it’s not another 38 years. But with the recent failure to approve the sign and trade deal, the reality is it will probably be much longer.
Cleveland has always been an innovator in the NFL. To quote Joy Taylor, “The Browns are the Browns until the prove they are not”. The Browns have proven they are still the Browns. They have innovated and have given themselves such a salary cap advantage that the NFL is scared to let it continue.
The Browns are playing salary cap chess. Nobody else in the NFL has even come close to challenging them.