Is the NBA Salary Explosion A Threat For the NFL?

The NBA’s Free Agency kicked off on July 1 with a whopping $1.4 billion spent only on the first day, according to ESPN Stats & Info. And the owners’ pockets are far from being empty with major free agents still not committed to signing a contract just yet.
This whole spending frenzy led Hall of Famer and TNT analyst Reggie Miller into tweeting: “I love that the players are bank rolling, capitalize and seize the moment.. Trust me the owners and league are making money, so should you..”
But it also raised a few eyebrows in the National Football League, a professional league with almost double the NBA revenue but with much lower salaries.
Washington Redskins safety Duke Ihenacho started the charge comparing the salary status quo in the NBA and the NFL. “All this guaranteed money NBA throwing. Meanwhile the NFL, which generates the most money won’t even make the league minimum $1M,” he tweeted late on Wednesday. “Yes $1M minimum. That means every single player’s salary in the NFL should start there. Highest risk of injury… brain trauma, richest league,” Ihenacho continued.
The NFL minimum for the 2015 – 2016 season is set at $435,000. The average salary is somewhere above the $2-million mark; in the NBA, a player is paid an average of $5 million and this number could skyrocket in the next couple of seasons. Of course, comparing the average salary between the two professional leagues is like comparing apples and oranges. The NBA roster consists of maximum 15 players while every NFL team has around 53 players to cope with.
Ihenacho wasn’t taking shots because of that; he was referring to the guaranteed part of every NBA contract. In the National Basketball Association, all signed contacts are guaranteed which isn’t the case in the NFL where only a portion of each wage is actually secured. Moreover, if a football player is cut, he could never see the money owed for the remainder of the contract. The basketball player will always know that the number in the contract with the dollar sign will always be the number he will get no matter the unforeseeable future.
Only a couple of days ago, Kris Middleton of the Milwaukee Bucks – a good but not great basketball player – reportedly agreed to sign a five-year contract that is worth $70 million. As a comparison, top quarterback Cam Newton signed a new five-year deal this summer worth $60 million in guaranteed money, $10 million less than Middleton.
That’s why all the NBA hype could actually pose some serious problems for the NFL. The numbers are rising in basketball and more football players could soon join Ihenacho and voice their displeasure towards the current CBA terms. Fortunately for the NFL, the CBA signed in 2011 is set to expire after the 2020 season. Which is definitely plenty of time for the player’s union to regroup and prepare a new set of demands that will most likely involve guaranteed contracts.

By: Florian Gheorghe

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