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NFL salary cap less than projected in 2020 — why that is bad news for Chiefs

Even with the new CBA ratified on Sunday, the NFL salary cap will be less than we expected in 2020 — and that is bad news for the Chiefs.

New Chiefs general manager Brett Veach knows he has challenges ahead David Eulitt/Kansas City Star/TNS via Getty Images

As we expected, right on the heels of the announcement that the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) had ratified the new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) with the NFL, we have learned what the salary cap will be for the 2020 season.

It is not good news for the Kansas City Chiefs.

According to NFL Network reporter Tom Pelissero, teams will have $198.2 million with which to work this season.

During league meetings in December, teams were informed that in 2020, the team salary cap allocation would be between $196.8 million and $201.2 million — so this figure is within the predicted range.

But while it is a 5.3% increase over the 2018 salary cap, it is less that most have anticipated would be available to teams in 2020; salary cap websites like Spotrac and OverTheCap have both been using a slightly higher figure of $199 million on which to base their salary cap calculations.

Our previous back-of-the-envelope calculations had suggested that passage of the new CBA could add between $1 million and $3 million to the cap for 2020. Since the players’ share of league revenue increases (albeit slightly) from 46.8% to 47% under the new deal, it’s likely that the new CBA did push it up a little bit. This would suggest that league revenues ended up being on the low end of the December estimates.

With the new total salary cap allocation in place, Spotrac now estimates the Chiefs have $18.4 million of cap space available — a figure that accounts for the money the team will need to pay its five 2020 draft picks.

That’s enough to apply the franchise tag defensive tackle Chris Jones — which would add $16.3 million to the team’s obligations — but little more.

But it does not appear that Spotrac has yet accounted for the increases in minimum salary which are part of the new CBA. So with a tag applied to Jones, the Chiefs could be right on the edge of the cap. Since they don’t need to account for the rookie money until the draft has concluded, they can use that space for a while — but they will have to make the numbers add up by the end of April.

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