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Life as a Cleveland Sports Fan

When is 89 percent not really 89 percent?

Unable not the Same as UnwillingWith the start of free agency in the NFL just 16 days away, we are going to be hearing lots of talk about what the Cleveland Browns may or may not do to upgrade the roster.

And there is one question we are sure to hear asked in some form over and over again:

“Don’t the Browns have to spend 89 percent of the salary cap this year?”

The answer is no, they don’t. But for some reason the question keeps coming up, so let’s review the answer one more time:

No team in the NFL – and yes, that includes the Browns – has to spend 89 percent of the salary cap this year or any year.

What the Browns are required to do by the NFL’s collective bargaining agreement is spend an average of 89 percent of the salary cap over a four-year period, starting in 2013 and ending in 2016. Some very basic math shows that the Browns can actually spend less than 89 percent over the next four-year period if they choose to.

Let’s say, to make thinks easy, that the salary cap is $120 million for 2013 and goes up $10 million a year for the next three years, hitting $150 million by 2016. That’s a total of $540 million and NFL teams are required to spend at least 89 percent of that cumulative total over the next four years, or roughly $481 million.

The Browns could choose to spend $120 million (and change) each year for the next four years and reach the salary floor without ever once “having to spend 89 percent of the salary cap.”

The reason this bugs so much is the fact that there is no excuse for Big Media to keep reporting that teams have to spend at least 89 percent each year. If they don’t understand how the NFL salary cap works, all they have to do is ask someone from the team they cover or call the NFL office; we’re sure they could write something up that explains how things work.

Or they could take the novel approach of turning to Google, because this topic has been written about over and over and over again.

This isn’t about making a mistake, people make mistakes (we may have even made one somewhere in this post). This is about Big Media not using the access they have to get the facts correct. That’s one of the points we made a year ago when we wrote this piece. It bugged us then and it continues to bug us now.

The upcoming free agency period is going to be contentious enough for Browns fans, with the likely departures of Phil Dawson and Josh Cribbs combined with the possibility that the Browns may not do as much as some fans would like.

Browns fans have enough to worry about as it is/ The last thing they need to deal with is incorrect information.

 

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2 thoughts on “When is 89 percent not really 89 percent?

  1. NYCBrownsBacker on said:

    “The Browns could choose to spend $120 million (and change) each year for the next four years and reach the salary floor without ever once “having to spend 89 percent of the salary cap.””

    That makes no sense. Year 1 120MM/120MM = 100% Year 2 120MM/130MM = 92.3%. How did they not ever have to spen 89%?

  2. tmoore94 on said:

    Some members of the media are presenting the spending as teams having to spend “at least 89 percent” each year, meaning there is a hard salary floor. That’s not true, though.

    What they have to do is spend a cumulative amount over the next four years. The Browns could choose to spend only 89 percent of the salary cap each year, but they are not required to do that.

    The point is, if/when the Browns don’t spend heavily in free agency this year, some will yell that they didn’t hit the 89 percent minimum, when such a think doesn’t actually exist.

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