Inside the Ravens with Aaron Wilson

Thursday, February 4, 2010

NFL Owners: "Making less money than their linebackers"


Steve Bisciotti fully expects an uncapped year, and he's worried about several owners facing financial difficulties.

He said those issues could create "long-term problems for the league," that could possibly lead to no football in 2011.

"I've got partners out there right now whose teams are making less money than their linebackers," Bisciotti said. "I think we've got an acute problem here with the general profitability of the teams. We always knew this was not a big cash-flow business, but when you've got guys like Jacksonville tarping up 10,000 seats to stop blackouts, when you've got teams that are voluntarily staying at the minimum of what they have to spend on the salary cap in order to not go upside down financially, then we already have a structural problem. I don't know what side the fans are going to take. Three years ago if we hadn't done the deal, we would have forced the players to strike."

Bisciotti characterized the last collective bargaining agreement extension inked three years ago as a bad deal for the owners.

"That puts us in the unenviable position of this thing ending in a lockout as opposed to a strike," Bisciotti said. "There's no cash flow. If we don't get this thing back to the point that teams have enough cash flow, then there's long-term problems for the league. We're going to have to address that.”

Besides noting the Jaguars' ongoing struggles to sell tickets, Bisciotti also referenced the St. Louis Rams having issues getting their asking price in a proposed sale.

Referencing the deep-pocketed New York Yankees, Bisciotti is hoping that the NFL is able to return to a salary-cap business model as soon as possible.

"It certainly doesn't show up in the standings," he said. "If I'm a Yankees fan, I'm upset we're not winning 130 games with the roster that they have and the money that they pay out. I think it's a disgrace they only beat the average team by 10 games in the standings with three times the money. I'd fire that GM. You don't need a GM. All you have to do is buy the guy that was the last Cy Young Award winner every year."

If the NFL goes back to having a salary cap in 2011, there's a concern that teams could be hamstrung by expensive deals struck during the uncapped year.

"Then, it's the league's responsibility to make sure that the teams have a soft landing," Bisciotti said. "That will be the last major negotiating point is exactly how the rosters are affected in that transition back into a cap.

"They could restrict movement for awhile to give you exclusive rights for one more year or stagger them depending on who lost the most. The league is already aware that things that we do to protect ourselves now will not come back and haunt us when we hit the ground running again with the new cap."

As far as baseball's economic system, Bisciotti, who's an Orioles fan, doesn't envision a fix since the Yankees are able to afford the luxury tax.

"I think the genie's out of the bottle," Bisciotti said. "There's just no way of solving it."

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