Do Coaches Count Salary Cap NFL | In Details


Career Consultant & Blog Writer

Published: January 22, 2024

No, coaches’ salaries do not count against the salary cap in the NFL. The salary cap primarily applies to player salaries, bonuses, and related expenses. Coaches’ salaries are considered a separate aspect of a team’s budget and are not factored into the overall salary cap calculations.

In the highly competitive world of the National Football League (NFL), where every dollar counts, teams navigate the intricate web of the salary cap to ensure financial stability and player acquisitions. While players’ salaries often take the spotlight, the question of whether do coaches count salary cap NFL. In this article, we’ll discuss coaching salaries, their impact on team finances, and the delicate balance teams must strike between investing in coaching excellence and adhering to the salary cap.

The NFL salary cap serves as the financial cornerstone, preventing teams from overspending and maintaining a level playing field. However, as teams strive for success, the role of coaches becomes paramount. Coaches are the strategic architects behind a team’s performance, shaping the destiny of players and the franchise. Let’s unravel the intricacies of coaching salaries and their relation to the formidable NFL salary cap.

Understanding the NFL Salary Cap

The salary cap, in the context of professional sports leagues like the National Football League (NFL), is a financial mechanism put in place to limit the total amount of money a team can spend on player salaries and bonuses in a given season. It acts as a competitive balance measure, preventing wealthier teams from dominating the league solely through financial means.

In the NFL, the salary cap is a fixed dollar amount that is determined through negotiations between the league and the players’ union. This cap is calculated based on the league’s total revenue and is then divided among the teams. The primary purpose of the salary cap is to promote parity among teams, ensuring that all franchises have a roughly equal opportunity to build competitive rosters.

Teams must adhere to the salary cap when signing players to contracts, and this includes not only their base salaries but also various bonuses and incentives. If a team exceeds the salary cap, they may face penalties, including fines or the potential loss of draft picks.

The salary cap system adds a strategic element to team management, requiring decision-makers to allocate resources wisely, prioritize key players, and navigate financial constraints while aiming for success on the field. It fosters a level playing field and contributes to the overall excitement and competitiveness of the league.

What is the Method Used To Calculate the Salary Cap

Do Coaches Count Salary Cap NFL

The salary cap is determined by dividing a percentage of revenues, as outlined in the NFL Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), into three categories:

  • League Media revenue,
  • NFL Ventures/Postseason revenue, and
  • Local revenue.

The resulting sum is divided by 32, representing the number of teams in the NFL.

As per the current CBA, players receive 48% of revenue-sharing profits. For the 2022 season, revenue sharing amounted to $433.755 million, with players’ revenue share totaling $208.2 million, setting the cap for the same season.

The Team Salary cap is computed as the sum of the Base Salary Cap, Carryover, and any necessary adjustments. Cap space is then determined by subtracting Active Cap Spending and Dead Money from the Team Salary Cap.

The Base Salary Cap for the 2022 season stands at $208.2 million. Carryover represents savings from the previous year, and teams must inform the league in March, a couple of weeks before the start of the season, regarding the amount of money they wish to transfer to the upcoming year.

How the Salary Cap Is Applied In The Context Of Player Contracts

The salary cap is applied to player contracts in several ways. Firstly, the total value of a player’s contract, including base salary, bonuses, and incentives, counts towards a team’s salary cap. This ensures that teams cannot exceed the designated cap space when signing players.

Moreover, the structure of player contracts plays a crucial role. Teams often use signing bonuses and guaranteed money strategically to manage the cap more effectively. Signing bonuses, for instance, can be prorated over the life of the contract, helping teams spread the cap hit more evenly across multiple years.

In some cases, teams may restructure existing contracts to create immediate cap space. This involves adjusting the terms of a player’s contract to convert a portion of their base salary into a signing bonus, providing short-term relief against the salary cap.

Additionally, incentives and performance bonuses are considered “likely to be earned” or “not likely to be earned,” affecting their immediate impact on the salary cap. “Likely to be earned” incentives count against the current cap, while “not likely to be earned” incentives do not.

Overall, the application of the salary cap in player contracts involves a combination of contractual structures, bonus allocations, and strategic financial management to ensure teams stay within the league-mandated financial constraints while building competitive rosters.

Why Does The NFL Have A Salary Cap: Top Reasons

The NFL has a salary cap for several key reasons, primarily aimed at maintaining competitive balance and financial sustainability within the league. Here are some of the key reasons why the NFL implements a salary cap:

Competitive Balance

The salary cap is designed to ensure that no single team can gain a significant financial advantage over others. By limiting the amount teams can spend on player salaries, the league aims to create a more level playing field, allowing teams of varying market sizes to compete on an equal footing.

Parity and Excitement

The salary cap contributes to parity in the league, meaning that no team is consistently dominant over an extended period. This fosters excitement among fans, as every team has a realistic chance of success, creating a more engaging and unpredictable competition.

Financial Stability

The salary cap helps maintain financial stability across all teams by preventing excessive spending on player salaries. This ensures that even smaller-market teams can afford to compete, reducing the risk of financial disparities that could lead to the instability or bankruptcy of certain franchises.

Player Movement and Free Agency

The salary cap encourages player movement and free agency, allowing talented players to move between teams. This dynamic system promotes player mobility, enabling teams to rebuild or strengthen their rosters strategically, which adds to the overall drama and intrigue of the league.

Fan Engagement

The competitive balance resulting from the salary cap enhances fan engagement. Fans of smaller-market teams can remain invested in their teams, knowing that financial limitations won’t permanently hinder their competitiveness.

Long-Term Sustainability

By preventing teams from overspending, the salary cap contributes to the long-term sustainability of the league. It helps avoid financial crises and ensures that the NFL remains a viable and thriving entity for years to come.

In summary, the NFL’s salary cap serves as a critical tool to create fairness, excitement, and stability within the league, allowing teams of all sizes to compete and ensuring the sustained success and popularity of the NFL.

NFL Coach Salary Vs College

Do Coaches Count Salary Cap NFL

The comparison between NFL coach salaries and those in college football is a nuanced and dynamic aspect of the coaching profession. Here are some key factors to consider when examining the differences between NFL and college football coach salaries:

Salary Scale

  • NFL: Generally, NFL coaches command higher salaries compared to their counterparts in college football. The NFL is a premier professional league with substantial revenue, allowing teams to allocate significant resources to coaching staff.
  • College: While some college football programs can offer competitive salaries, especially in Power Five conferences, overall, college coaches may not reach the same salary levels as NFL coaches.

Additional Income Streams

  • NFL: NFL coaches often have access to additional income sources, such as endorsements and partnerships, which can further enhance their overall earnings.
  • College: College coaches may also benefit from additional income, particularly through endorsement deals, but the opportunities might vary depending on the program and the coach’s visibility.

Recruitment and Development

  • NFL: NFL coaches primarily focus on coaching professional athletes. Their responsibilities include game strategy, player development, and managing the dynamics of a professional team.
  • College: College coaches not only coach but also engage in recruiting talented players. They often play a crucial role in developing young athletes and preparing them for potential careers in the NFL.

Job Security

  • NFL: Job security in the NFL can be tenuous, with coaches often facing intense scrutiny and shorter tenures compared to their college counterparts.
  • College: College coaches may have more job security, especially if they have successful and long-term tenures at a particular program. Alumni and fan support can sometimes contribute to job stability.

Overall Budget and Resources

  • NFL: NFL teams generally have larger budgets and more resources at their disposal, enabling them to attract top coaching talent with competitive salaries.
  • College: College programs vary widely in terms of budget and resources. While top-tier programs may have significant financial backing, smaller programs may face limitations in offering high coaching salaries.

Lifestyle and Location

  • NFL: NFL coaches often move between cities based on their coaching opportunities, and the lifestyle can be demanding given the professional nature of the league.
  • College: College coaches may experience stability in terms of location, especially if they establish themselves at a particular program. The lifestyle might be influenced by the campus culture and community.

The comparison between NFL and college football coach salaries involves various factors, including the level of competition, additional income opportunities, job security, and overall resources available to the respective leagues and programs. Each coaching position offers unique challenges and rewards, shaping the decisions and career paths of coaches in both professional and college football.

FAQs With Answers About Do Coaches Count Salary Cap NFL

Does a coach’s salary count against the cap in the NBA?

Yes, in the NBA, coaching staff salaries, including head coaches and assistant coaches, are part of a team’s basketball-related income and are subject to the salary cap. The NBA has a more comprehensive approach to including various team expenses within the salary cap structure.

Who is the highest-paid coach in the NFL?

Coaching salaries can change over time due to negotiations and contract extensions. The highest-paid coach in the NFL was believed to be Bill Belichick of the New England Patriots. However, for the most current information, it is recommended to check recent sports news or official team announcements.


In the intricate dance between coaching salaries and the NFL salary cap, teams must master the art of balancing financial constraints with the imperative of securing top-tier coaching talent. The delicate interplay between these elements defines the success of a franchise, shaping its present and future.