The NFL's salary cap for 2019 has been finalized at $188.2 million per team, up from $177.2 million last year and marking the sixth consecutive year it has grown by at least $10 million.
The final figure is the result of negotiations between the NFL and the NFL Players' Association and is tied mainly to league revenues. It does not include benefit costs, which a source said would come in at around $40.5 million per team this year. That means each team's total allotment for player costs will come in at around $228.7 million.
The $40.5 million per team in benefits includes such things as pension payments to former players, health care costs, 401(k) payments, injury protection costs and performance-based pay.
New this year in the performance-based pay category is a "veteran performance based pay" pool that will be available only to players with one or more accredited seasons. The total amount allotted per team for performance-based pay is about $7.2 million, and the source said $2.6 million of that would constitute the new "veteran performance-based pay" allotment -- money that would allow teams to reward veteran players (as opposed to rookies) who have outperformed their contracts.
The 2011 collective bargaining agreement stipulated two four-year windows during which teams are required to spend at least 89 percent of the total salary cap cost in cash. The league is currently in the third year of the second of those four-year windows and, according to the NFLPA, only four teams are currently under that 89 percent threshold -- the Dallas Cowboys, Buffalo Bills, Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans.
Any team not meeting the 89 percent spending requirement at the conclusion of the four-year window is required to make up the difference with cash payments to players who have played for them during that time.
The 2011 collective bargaining agreement expires after the 2020 season. The league and the union have yet to engage in substantive discussions about a new one.