It’s Time to Include Coaches in Salary Cap

Starting in the late 1970s, "competitive balance," aka "parity," became the number one stated goal of the NFL owners.

Actions intended to bring this about started in 1978, when where each team finished within their division one year was first used to determine each team's out-of-division schedules the following year. But like a circus performer disastrously missing a leap on the flying trapeze, the owners got it horribly wrong, as their plan saddled teams finishing fourth in a five-team division with the toughest schedules in the league the following season, while giving the fifth-place teams from those same divisions the easiest schedules, inviting teams to tank games to get a huge break in next season's schedule.

The format was improved upon somewhat in 1988, and rectified altogether in 1995, the year Carolina and Jacksonville entered the NFL as expansion teams, filling out all of the six divisions the league then had at five teams each.

The next step on the road to parity came in 1993, when federal Judge David Doty declared the Rozelle Rule, which mandated exorbitant compensation in the form of draft choices to any team that lost a player whose contract had expired, an illegal restraint of trade under the Sherman Antitrust Act. Judge Doty then ordered the owners and the NFLPA to negotiate a compromise that would include a salary cap to go along with free agency.

In addition, the owners created out of thin air compensatory draft picks, which originally could come at any part of any round (after the NFLPA complained that the owners were handing out high picks like candy, these picks were devalued to the end of any round from the third round onward, as they still are today), with the team signing the free agent(s) giving up nothing.

But never was the enormous advantage accruing to a team having a head coach who has won six Super Bowls, like Bill Belichick, over another team having a head coach who has a lifetime record of 2-14, like Zac Taylor, addressed.

Maybe now is the time to address it — by including the salaries of the head coaches in the salary cap.

Obviously, a head coach with multiple rings is going to command a much higher salary than either an unproven commodity or a proven loser — and equally obviously, the cap would need to be increased if the coaches' salaries are included, with said increase equal to the average salary of all 32 head coaches in the just-concluded season.

Furthermore, this change is very likely to indirectly lead to the hiring of more minority head coaches — since there are very few minority head coaches out there who are proven winners, giving any team willing to hire such a coach additional cap space to go after free agents, etc. And it will do so without fostering any resentment among the conservative base (as the Rooney Rule most definitely does) to which the lion's share of season ticket holders belong.

With the owners presumably poised to add another game against a first-place team (from the year before) to every first-place team's schedule, and another game against a last-place team to every last-place team's schedule when the league goes to 17 games, also tempering the truly massive edge that having a Bill Belichick or an Andy Reid gives over having a Zac Taylor or a Joe Judge is hardly too much to ask.

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