As we all know the Jacksonville Jaguars are going to have mountains of cap space to spend in the 2016 NFL offseason. For some reason, some people worry about the Jaguars over spending and getting themselves in future cap trouble, which is virtually impossible, but a nugget of information that dropped this week also has some people concerned the Jaguars have been too cheap.
Recently the NFLPA released a statement that noted both the Jaguars and the Oakland Raiders were well below the NFL’s "89 percent rule" , which was collectively bargained during the last CBA negotiations, which led many to believe that teams would be forced to spend their salary cap money.
"NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith singled out the Oakland Raiders as being $41 million below the spending floor they must reach by March 2017. The Jacksonville Jaguars are $28 million short of the collectively bargained requirements, Smith added."
It makes sense that the NFLPA would make a stink about this, as publicly it portrays those two franchises as being "cheap" and not paying players, which is ultimately who the NFLPA looks out for, but that’s not only not necessarily the case, the ramifications for not hitting that mark aren’t really worth worrying about.
The 89 percent rule seems to confuse money, as it’s presented somewhat as a salary cap floor for NFL teams, but it’s not that rigid. Last offseason I explained what the 89 percent rule actually is, since it’s not 89 percent of the salary cup but 89 percent cash spending.
Some have speculated this means that the Jaguars absolutely have to spend a bunch of money this offseason to be compliant of the rule, but the fact of the matter is they could literally spend absolutely nothing in free agency and there isn’t really a penalty they will be given. The penalty for not reaching the 89 percent spend requirement over the four-year cumulative period means a team will have to give the money they're short by to their own players (via NFLPA-determined distribution). Teams are not fined, they are not docked draft picks or anything other than that. The difference is distributed among the current players on the roster.
Now, the Jaguars will spend plenty of money this offseason and may not hit that 89 percent threshold, but in all reality it doesn’t matter and is mostly a PR device by the NFLPA to paint teams as cheap in the public eye. The money will get spent in some capacity, regardless.