Pay Cuts Starting To Hit NFL Front Offices

On Wednesday the Arizona Cardinals became the latest team to announce salary cuts for their front office personnel. According to an ESPN report, the Cardinals' staff will have to take a 35% pay cut. The report says that the Cardinals might refund that money if no games are missed, but if even one game is missed, the organization is under no obligation to refund any of the money.

The Bills have established a program of cuts that "focuses on shared sacrifice." No overall figure was released, but it was announced that the percentage of the cut will be based on salary, with the highest-paid employees receiving a larger cut in pay.

The Jets implemented a 25 percent pay cut immediately after the lockout announcement on Saturday, which they'll augment with mandatory staff furloughs. Like the Cardinals, the Jets will reimburse these salary cuts to their employees if no season games are lost, but they also have an escalator in the staff contracts: if the lockout lasts three months, then the salaries could be cut by 50%.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette reports that while the Packers have not reduced any salaries yet, the club announced that it has frozen hiring and salaries and that plans are in place for "sizeable salary cuts" at higher levels within the franchise.

A report by the San Diego Union Tribune indicates the Chargers have also taken immediate pay cuts, but that team officials have declined to comment on the pay cuts as the NFL has instructed all personnel to avoid talking about anything related to the lockout.

The Raiders will cut coaches salaries by 33% and increase that figure to 50% after three months, the 49ers start with a 20% cut and would also escalate to 40% after three months, according to the DMN.

And these are just the teams a quick Google search showed were going to reduce their employee benefits. Most teams are expected to cut coaching salaries in a prolonged lockout, and even the league offices have cut salaries: NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and NFL general counsel are slashing their salaries to $1 per year from their respective salaries of $10 million and $5 million respectively. Other employees of the NFL, including NFL Network and NFL.com, will have their salaries reduced anywhere from 5-25%.

The DMN writes that the Cowboys coaching staff is the envy of the NFL, as they will likely not have to take any pay cuts:

The coaches work for an organization that does not scrimp on their salaries and will not penalize them if a lockout begins as soon as Friday evening. The Cowboys' coaches will not take the financial hit many of their peers will during a lockout.

Joining the Cowboys in protecting their coaching staffs (for now) are the Bears, Broncos, Dolphins, Giants, Ravens, Seahawks and Steelers, all of whom are among the teams not expected to cut coaching salaries any time soon

What's remarkable about all these salary cuts, forced furloughs and other cost saving activities is that at this point, no team is actually losing any money. The players get their salaries in 17 game-day pay cheques over the course of the season, and team finances will not take a significant hit until the first game is canceled. Yet some owners see fit to take money out of their employees' hands.

You can always argue that it's good business practice to keep costs under control and anticipate a revenue decline early on. You could also argue that most employees signed contracts which already contained lockout clauses, so they knew what they were getting into. And an argument can also be made that these cuts are just temporary, and that most employees will be reimbursed once the lockout ends.

You can spin it any way you want, but at the end, it is a simple money grab by some of the owners at the expense of their employees that leaves a very bad aftertaste. After all, while the players are locked out, and therefore don't receive any pay, the coaching staffs and other front office employees continue to work - but they're the ones getting a pay cut.

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