The NFL Player’s Association (NFLPA) has found itself on the winning side of an arbitration that is expected to cost the NFL more than $100 million.

NFL Withheld Over $120 Million From Players For 3 Years

The issue at hand concerns the shared revenue pool the NFL splits with its players. According to the Wall Street Journal, the league will be forced to return approximately $120 million in revenues that it incorrectly collected over the past three years.

Although an NFL spokesman confirmed to the WSJ that the NFLPA had won the arbitration, the spokesman did not reveal the specific amount the NFL would be paying back.

The annual salary cap is determined using the NFL’s total annual revenue. This revenue comes from ticket sales, sponsors and money made by the league during the playoffs.


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As part of this arbitration, the NFLPA filed a grievance because “NFL owners had mischaracterized” a ticket revenue exemption that simply didn’t exist in the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA), according to NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith.

“They created an exemption out of a fiction and they got caught,” Smith told the WSJ.

The NFL can withhold revenue money in some cases, like Personal Seat Licenses (PSLs) and on deals that include stadium naming rights. However, the NFL can’t just decide to withhold all revenue sources, it can only withhold money that was agreed to in the aforementioned 2011 CBA.

Since Arbitrator Stephen Burbank has sided with the NFLPA, the extra $120 million collected by the NFL will be returned to the shared revenue pool “immediately.” Of that total, $50 million is expected to go to player salaries, which means the salary cap should increase by about $1.56 million per team in 2016, which makes perfect sense.

The NFLPA originally noticed the discrepancy while doing an audit in January, according to Smith.

“People have become accustomed to how we protect our rights when it comes to player discipline,” Smith said. “We are equally diligent when it comes to getting our share of revenues.”

BALTIMORE, MD – SEPTEMBER 28: DeMaurice Smith (L), Executive Director of the NFLPA, speaks with Baltimore Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti (R) before a game against the Carolina Panthers at M&T Bank Stadium on September 28, 2014 in Baltimore, Maryland. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)

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