Steelers safety makes controversial statement regarding NFL salaries

One Steelers safety is lobbying for more money for NFL players if the league moves to an 18-game schedule.
Tennessee Titans v Pittsburgh Steelers
Tennessee Titans v Pittsburgh Steelers / Kevin Sabitus/GettyImages

The NFL is always looking for creative ways to expand its revenue. Recently, this has involved allowing streaming services to bid for exclusive rights to air games, and there are even whispers about moving primetime games to pay-per-view in the near future. One Pittsburgh Steelers player believes the league is taking too big of a cut and not leaving enough money for the players.

Another revenue-generating change that the league is flirting with is an 18-game season in the NFL. The league moved from 16 games to 17 games for the first time in 2021. In the process, the league agreed to axe one preseason game from the schedule while increasing the salary cap.

While the NFL won't see an 18-game schedule until 2031 at the earliest, it looks like we could be headed for a season expansion once again. But as you can imagine, not every NFL player is on board with this.

DeShon Elliott spoke to Brooke Pryor of ESPN, claiming ownership isn't paying players enough to play an 18-game season. The Steelers safety believes that players 'should get way more money' than what they are currently earning.

"They’re not paying us enough money already. They’re stingy with their money, so they want to make us play 18 games. As a player union, we should get way more money than what we’re getting. And not just the top guys. And the thing is, they’re not out here playing football. They’re not here running around putting their bodies on the line. They don’t care. All they care about is making money, but if you’re going to make money on the top end, the bottom end has to make money too."

Deshon Elliott via ESPN

Elliott's argument makes sense to a degree. If the league wants to expand the NFL season from 17 games to 18 games, this obviously comes with some added health risks to the players. When a chance does occur, we can expect the salary cap to take another significant jump, so many players will be compensated accordingly. We will also likely see one fewer preseason game.

But this statement isn't going to sit well with many football fans.

According to a USA Today Study from 2024, the national average salary in the U.S. in Q4 of 2023 is $59,384. Many hardworking folks in the lower-to-middle economic class who support the NFL don't like hearing about how football players need to be paid more.

DeShon Elliott, for example, just inked a two-year contract with the Steelers during the 2024 offseason worth $6,000,000 with $1,500,000 in guarantees, per Over the Cap. Despite being on four different NFL teams since 2018, Elliott will earn a total of $12,818,800 by the end of the 2025 season (if he stays on the Steelers' roster until the end of his contract).

This may seem like small potatoes to some professional football players, but not to the average American laborer.

At the same time, the players have a case to be made. This is a multi-billion-dollar business. The NFL Player's Union knows how much ownership is pocketing from others putting their bodies on the line, and they want their cut.

Whatever side of the fence you're on, we all know that professional athletes get paid a lot of money. It shouldn't surprise anyone that players are asking for more if the league has plans to tack another game on the schedule.