NEW YORK — The owners of the New England Patriots said they’re open to giving the NFL a tax break worth $1 billion to help offset the NFL salary-cap crisis, the NFL announced Thursday.
The league’s owners also said they have agreed to offer the tax breaks as a “non-tax” incentive to teams.
The league’s players and coaches all get paid more than $1 million a year, which would be offset by the tax break.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and the league’s two highest-ranking owners, Jerry Jones of the Dallas Cowboys and Robert Kraft of the Green Bay Packers, have been meeting regularly since December to discuss the issue.
Goodell told owners they could negotiate tax-exempt tax breaks for teams with no salary cap, which he said could help offset some of the $5 billion or more the NFL is owed to the state of New York and the federal government.
The tax breaks are expected to be a key part of any agreement to address the league and its players’ looming salary cap.
A proposal that would have offered a tax credit of $250 million to teams with a salary cap of $100 million would have generated at least $700 million to $800 million a season, the New York Times reported.
But Goodell said in his letter to the owners Thursday that “in addition to offering this tax break, we will also make the case that we should make these tax breaks available to teams in addition to other tax breaks that we already offer to teams.”
Goodell said the tax-free breaks will be available only to teams that do not have salary caps.
The Patriots, whose players and owners have been negotiating a new collective bargaining agreement with the league for more than a year now, have long sought a tax relief.
They have been told that any potential tax breaks offered by the owners are not guaranteed and could be eliminated by the league or the state.
The NFL said it was still reviewing the commissioner’s letter.
The New England owner, Robert Kraft, who is the chairman of the NFL’s owners, and the NFL Players Association have been trying to get the league to give more tax breaks.
But the NFL has consistently refused.
“We are still working through our own tax situation,” Goodell said Thursday.
“We are going to make sure that the league continues to provide the most fair, reasonable and equitable tax incentives to our players and their families.”
The tax-based incentive proposal is the latest in a series of moves by the NFL owners to address their current financial problems, including the franchise tag system, which penalizes teams that don’t pay their players the market value of their contracts.
The owners have also been trying for a new labor deal.