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The Rams and the small market implications of the next labor deal

Small market, big plans
Small market, big plans

Reports of dissent at the owners meeting yesterday were greatly exaggerated. By all accounts the room full of NFL owners were mostly agreeable to the framework of a new deal that was presented to them. However, there are still some rumblings from small market teams who will be effected by a couple key parameters of the new deal, including the St. Louis Rams.

Not all revenue among teams gets shared. Big outfits like the Cowboys or the Redskins generate a lot more money than small market teams, money that doesn't go back into the big pot for sharing. That was an underlying tension in demands to open books for the league and each team, and this was a big, though unstated reason for the reticence to open the books from owners like Jerry Jones.

Adding to the strain for smaller market teams is the requirement that teams spend in excess of 90 percent of the cap on salaries. That means the small market teams that used the looser requirements in the past to shore up their profits won't have that option anymore. Of course, from a fan's perspective, those teams hurt the competitive balance of the league - looking at you Tampa Bay.

The Rams haven't really been overly cheap in recent years, despite some loud protestations from fans over their free agent moves. No, the Rams spent money, they just didn't do it wisely until Devaney ousted Zygmunt as GM, for which we shall be forever thankful to the children of Georgia Frontiere.

Profits are why the stadium issue will be key for the Rams, and Stan Kroenke knows that. Owning your own facility generates additional revenue, like naming rights, which does not go into the shared pool. It also adds to the total valuation of a franchise, considerably. The NFL promised to contribute to a potential stadium project in Minnesota, something that could help small market teams.

Winning games again will also add to the Rams' profit margins.

The other thing to remember here is that league revenues will grow, barring some other unforeseen economic meltdown, bigger even than the recession that started in 2007/08. If that happens, NFL football is the least of our worries. In fact, the addition of a new Thursday night prime time package promises to boost revenues in 2012 by as much as $1 billion.

It's an issue to be sensitive of as fans of a small market team like the Rams.