A look at pro sports' salary caps this decade

Data: Real GM (NBA); Spotrac (NFL); Puckpedia (NHL); Chart: Axios Visuals

Over the past decade, the NFL, NBA and NHL salary caps (i.e. limits on how much money teams can spend on players) have all increased, but at fairly different rates.

By the numbers: The NFL salary cap has jumped from $120 million to $188.2 million this decade, a 57% increase. The NBA's has jumped from $58 million to $109.1 million (+88%) and the NHL's has jumped from $59.4 million to $81.5 million (+37%).

  • What's next: The NFL informed teams yesterday that projections for the 2020-21 salary cap are in the range of $196.8 million to $201.2 million, per ESPN's Adam Schefter. The NBA's latest projection is $116 million, while the NHL hasn't released one.

Chart notes:

  • NFL: The 2010-11 season was played without a salary cap thanks to the impending end of the CBA.
  • NBA: Between 2014 and 2016, the NBA's salary cap skyrocketed from $63.07 million to $94.14 million — a direct result of the nine-year, $24 billion contract it signed with ESPN and TNT, nearly three times the value of the prior deal.
  • NHL: There was a lockout during the 2012-13 season, which resulted in a smaller salary cap for the shortened campaign and caused the small dip you see above.

Go deeper: Baseball's luxury tax has become a salary cap