The NFL is going to get a new television deal in 2014. Because the NFL is just about the most popular sports league in the world (it's certainly No. 1 in its own country, a couple soccer competitions rival it worldwide), that new TV deal is worth an absurd amount of money. Just about every team is making a profit right now, and they're going to be making money hand over fist when the new TV deal kicks in. So they're going to increase the salary cap, right?
Wrong! Until at least 2015, the NFL is expected to have a relatively flat salary cap. The current cap is $120.6 million and it's only expected to go up to $122 million in 2015, according to John Clayton at ESPN. How does this kind of thing happen?
Basically, under the new CBA, the salary cap was supposed to drop in 2012, not stay the same. This would have significantly depressed the free agent market, which the players union didn't want. In order to keep the cap from going down while satisfying the compromised upon percentage of revenue under the CBA, the union worked out a little trade. The players got a bigger chunk of revenue last year than they're supposed to under the CBA, and that will even out in the owners' favor when the TV deal hits.
The result is guys like Mario Williams leaving the Texans. The Packers have to make sacrifices to keep the pieces they value most. The Bears can't just pay Matt Forte because they want to. Maybe the owners weren't lying when they talked about improving competitive balance.