We’re about two months away from the official start of the NFL season, and about three weeks from the start of training camp. The NFL news cycle has been a bit slow since the Draft, but there was something that happened in the last few days that should have caught everyone’s attention. Obviously, the biggest news in the sporting world was LeBron James going to the Lakers, but the Warriors signing of DeMarcus Cousins has even more significance.
The Warriors fixed their only arguable weakness at the center position, and will easily coast to another championship, which already seemed inevitable. The competitive balance of the NBA, which was already being questioned by many, is now a running joke. But why is the NBA the only league that seems to have this problem?
It’s been a long time since the NFL has had anything resembling a dynasty. The closest thing are the Patriots, but even they aren’t winning championships year in and year out. They also aren’t stacked to anywhere near the point that the Warriors are. Imagine if, in addition to having the best quarterback and coach in the league, the Patriots were able to get Julio Jones to catch his passes. But don’t stop there. What if they got J.J. Watt to anchor their defensive line? That would be the NFL equivalent to what we’re seeing in the NBA right now.
Obviously, the Patriots can’t actually do this, because it would cost too much. You see, the NFL has a hard salary cap. This means that there is a set amount of money that teams must stay under at all times, and they are charged a fine of $5 million for every violation. This is done so certain teams that may have deeper pockets than others can’t just go out and stack their team with all the best players with little to no consequences. Sound familiar?
Other sports leagues have no such restrictions. Major League Baseball has no salary cap at all, and the NBA has a soft cap, which gives teams a lot of leeway on how they can spend their money. This is the reason the Warriors were able to sign Cousins despite being tens of millions of dollars over the cap limit. They took advantage of one of the many loopholes in the NBA salary cap rules, a loophole known as the MLE, or mid-level exception.
The MLE was introduced in 1999, and at the time, was meant to be a way for contenders who were near or at the cap limit to sign quality role players. But Cousins is no role player. He’s a bona fide all-star, something the Warriors now have at every position. Go ahead, name an NFL team with eleven pro-bowlers. I’ll wait.
Sure, we know going into every NFL season that the Patriots will be in contention for the Super Bowl, but contention is the key word there. We don’t know for certain that they are going to get there, let alone win it. That’s more than NBA fans can say about the Warriors. A hard salary cap is necessary to keep the NFL competitive. And if Adam Silver was smart, he’d push for the NBA to adopt a similar policy. Maybe seeing Golden State win back-to-back-to-back-to-back championships will convince him.