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The NFL is furloughing league employees and reducing salaries due to coronavirus

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Key Points
  • In a memo to employees, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell outlined broad cost-cutting steps across the league.
  • Goodell has voluntarily reduced his salary to $0 for an undefined period of time.
  • Other measures include pay cuts for office staff and furloughs, and reductions in contributions to the pension plan.
Nick Laham | Getty Images

In a memo to employees, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said the league is not immune to the economic consequences of the coronavirus and he's made the difficult decision to take broad cost-saving measures across NFL offices that includes furloughs, salary cuts and a decrease in contributions to the pension plan.

"It is clear that the economic effects will be deeper and longer lasting than anyone anticipated and that their duration remains uncertain. The downturn has affected all of us, as well as our fans, our business partners, and our clubs," Goodell said in the memo. 

The cuts outlined in the memo obtained by CNBC, include a furlough program for individuals who are unable to substantially perform their duties from home and/or whose current workload has been significantly reduced. The changes take effect beginning May 8. 

"It's important to remember a furlough is not a termination. We do not know how long a furlough will last, but we are hopeful that we will be able to return furloughed employees back to work within a few months," Goodell said. 

Medical, dental and vision benefits will be fully maintained during the furlough period, according to the memo. The NFL did not respond to a request for comment on how many people the cost-saving measures would impact.

In this still image from video provided by the NFL, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell speaks from his home in Bronxville, New York during the first round of the 2020 NFL Draft on April 23, 2020. (Photo by NFL via Getty Images)
Photo by NFL via Getty Images

According to a league source, in addition to the changes outlined in the memo, Goodell requested a voluntarily reduction in his own salary to $0, which went into effect earlier this month for an undefined period of time. Goodell signed a contract extension in 2017 that was worth about $4 million per year, with about $40 million annually if incentives are met. 

Another measure being taken includes tiered reductions in base salary for those making $100,000 and up effective May 22. The cuts range from 5% to 15% depending on position and rank and includes NFL league office employees in New York, NFL Films and NFL Network. The league said "no employee's salary will be reduced below $100,000 as a result" of the reductions.

"We hope that business conditions will improve and permit salaries to be returned to their current levels, although we do not know when that will be possible," said Goodell. 

The memo also informed employees that NFL pension plan contributions will be permanently decreased from 15% to 10% of eligible compensation effective July 1. 

"It is clear that the economic effects will be deeper and longer lasting than anyone anticipated and that their duration remains uncertain," Goodell wrote in the memo. "The downturn has affected all of us, as well as our fans, our business partners, and our clubs."

He said the league is continuing to prepare for a full 2020 season of NFL football. 

In addition to the steps today, over the past six weeks, the NFL has made a number of other decisions related to cost reduction. Those have included canceling the annual meeting, limiting new hiring, closing offices and all club facilities, prohibiting virtually all travel involving players and club staff, moving to a virtual offseason program, and the complete transformation of the draft into a fully remote and virtual event.

"Our league has great strength and has shown its resiliency time and again. But part of that strength is the result of careful planning and a willingness to act responsibly," Goodell said.

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