Financial Implications for NFL Players on the Bubble

July 21st, 2014

With NFL training camps just around the corner, the rumor mills are filling up with reports of players who may not make the final cut come September. We’ll keep a running list of these reported players, and include the salary cap implication to the team should he be cut prior to the season.

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Financial Camp Preview: Buffalo Bills

July 18th, 2014

USATSI_7929831_160074578_lowresThe Buffalo Bills head into the 2014 training camp season with mostly optimistic expectations, dampered slightly by the season-ending injury to breakout linebacker Kiko Alonso, and the exit of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine (now the head coach of the Cleveland Browns). Generally speaking the 6-10 2013 Bills remain intact heading into the new campaign, and the now second-year coaching staff have implemented a more complex approach to the spread-offense with more weapons at their disposal.

 

Current Cap Figures

The Bills head into training camp with an estimated $121.6M allocated toward their Top 51 salary cap, and $144.6M allocated overall. With an adjusted cap of $150,584,740, Buffalo remains in good shape heading toward August, and should have room to add a few key players who are trimmed from rosters late this summer.

Related: View the 2014 Buffalo Bills Salary Cap Breakdown

 

Key Additions

USATSI_6824932_160074578_lowres
USA TodayBrandon Spikes brings a nasty, and proven presence to the center of the Bills’ run defense.

Mike Williams, WR
The Bills acquired the somewhat exiled receiver from the Buccaneers for a 6th round pick in this year’s draft. He brings with him Top 2 WR potential, and 5 years/ $32.05M remaining on his contract – just $1.6M of it currently guaranteed though. He’ll earn just $1.8M in cash for the 2014 season.

Brandon Spikes, LB
The Bills had trouble stopping the run-game in 2013, and the free agent signing of Brandon Spikes from the rival Patriots should work to plug that hole immediately. To sweeten the pot, Spikes signed a team friendly 1 year $3.25 million deal, with only his $900,000 signing bonus fully guaranteed. A good start to the year could breed talks for a long-term extension.

Corey Graham, CB
The former Bear & Raven returned home to Buffalo this offseason, signing a 4 year $16.3M contract through the 2017 season, with just a $1.5M 2014 salary and a $4M signing bonus guaranteed. He’ll be utlized throughout the secondary and the special teams unit from the get-go and could make a significant impact this season.

Sammy Watkins, WR
No team made a bigger splash this draft than the Bills, who swapped 1st round picks, and gave up the rights to their 2015 1st round selection to slide up and take Sammy Watkins at #4 overall. He signed his 4 year $19.9M contract in late May, and will certainly be the featured weapon in this wide-open Bills’ offense out of the gate.

 

Key Losses

USATSI_7561486_160074578_lowres
USA TodayFormer Bills safety Jairus Byrd signed a 6 year $54M contract with the Saints this offseason.

Jairus Byrd, S
After multiple offseason battles, the Bills finally backed down from their long-time captain of the secondary, seeing him sign a 6 year $54 million contract with the New Orleans Saints this offseason. It’s not clear if the Bills attempted to hand Byrd the $9M per year contract he was coveting, but outside of Mario Williams ($16M/yr), no other current Bill garners more than $8M annually. He’ll be replaced by much cheaper talent in Aaron/Duke Williams, & Da’Norris Searcy.

Stevie Johnson, WR
The long-time and somewhat beloved Bills receiver fell out of sorts with the new administration, and the selection of Sammy Watkins combined with the acquisition of Mike Williams all but secured his ticket out of town this offseason. Buffalo sent Johnson to the stockpile of talent that is the San Francisco 49ers for a conditional 2015 4th round draft pick, a move that added $10.225M in dead money to their 2014 salary cap.

 

Positional Spending

Position 2014 Cap $ % of Cap
Quarterback $3,396,052 2.25
Running Back $11,923,332 7.93
Fullback $570,000 .38
Wide Receiver $10,013,272 6.65
Tight End $4,479,444 2.98
Tackle $8,317,895 5.52
Guard $5,823,000 3.83
Center $7,050,000 4.68
Defensive End $26,105,000 17.33
Defensive Tackle $12,743,232 8.46
Linebackers $10,445,429 6.93
Cornerback $7,055,035 4.69
Safety $6,940,198 4.61
Special Teams $2,905,500 1.92

Offense ($49,665,816, 33% of 2014 cap)
The Bills have the spending patterns in place on paper to become a very good team in the next three seasons, including a young and inexpensive QB ($2M cap), a modest offensive line payroll ($16M), a deep running game (four strong running backs at just $11.37M), and a deep, financially balanced passing arsenal (Top 6 WRs cost just $8.446M).
Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 10.03.10 AM

 

Defense ($66,780,173, 44.3% of 2014 cap)
It’s clear as day that the Bills are built to rush the passer, with nearly $40M in 2014 cap allocated to the defensive line/ends. The loss of Alonso leaves Buffalo with 8 linebackers at just $10.8M in cap dollars – a potential huge value. Their secondary consists of 17 players currently with just $18M dollars allocated to their salary cap – a figure that will drop considerably with camp cuts.
Screen Shot 2014-07-18 at 10.08.11 AM

 

Potential Roster Bubbles

Erik Pears, OL
The Bills drafted heavily to their offensive line in the middle rounds this offseason, and it’s likely that Cyrus Kouandjio is the straw that cracks Pears from this roster. His release would clear $2.9 million in cap space heading into the season.

T.J. Graham, WR
The acquisition of Williams, draft of Watkins, and emergence of Marquise Goodwin in 2013 should be enough to keep T.J. Graham from cracking this roster. The former 3rd round pick has shown flashes, but not nearly the consistency to be a long-term option for the Bills. His release would clear $610,000 in 2014.

Chris Gragg, TE
The addition of Tony Moeaki from the Chiefs in the middle of 2013 could be a recipe for success heading into 2014. Combined with Scott Chandler, and the block-first presence of Lee Smith, the Bills should be in shape to continue on without the services of Gragg, a move that clears $495,000.

Dustin Hopkins, K
A 6th round pick from 2013, Hopkins spent the 2013 season on IR, and was replaced by free agent signing Dan Carpenter, who shined in the role. His $523,000 cap for 2014 makes him the cheaper option, but it’s hard to see Carpenter losing the spot.

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Breaking Down the Jimmy Graham Contract

July 15th, 2014

USATSI_7607448_160074578_lowres The Saints finally made good on their long-term intentions with TE/WR/Big Weapon Jimmy Graham, signing him to a 4 year $40 million contract, with $21 million guaranteed ($13 million initially). The deal replaces the $7.035 million franchise tag Graham was previously being held under as a tight end in 2014.

While not all details of the deal have been 100% confirmed (Incentives, Workout Bonuses, etc…) we can take a look at the base structure of the contract and assess where Graham lines up in comparison to other tight ends and wide receivers heading into the 2014 season.

Contract Breakdown (as we know it)

Screen Shot 2014-07-15 at 2.49.31 PM
The deal includes a $12 million signing bonus that pro-rates over the life of the contract at $3 million per year. In addition, Graham holds salaries of $1 million, $8 million, $9 million, and $10 million from 2014-2017 respectively.

The signing bonus and $1 million salary for 2014 are fully guaranteed as of today, while the $8 million salary for 2015 (guaranteed for injury only now) doesn’t fully guarantee until the 3rd day of the 2015 league waiver period.

In terms of cash this means, $13M in 2014, $8M in 2015, $9M in 2016, and $10M in 2017. To compare, had the Saints elected to franchise tag Graham in 2014 AND 2015, the estimated 2 year total would have been nearly $22M – almost exactly the 2 year cash total on this new contract. The name of the game here is upfront cash, where Graham now takes in $13M instead of the previously noted $7.035M.
 

Comparing Other Tight Ends

 

Comparing to Wide Receivers

 

Final Thoughts

It should come as no surprise that the Saints have made Jimmy Graham the highest paid tight end in nearly all shapes and angles. The deal is also structured in a way that both parties can walk away after 1 year with a relatively light financial risk ($9M dead cap hit in 2015 as of now), and a very low-risk in 2016 ($6M in dead money). Even if the contract is played out in its entirety, at just 27 years old now – a 31 year old Jimmy Graham will draw plenty of attention on the market in 4 years.

What this contract didn’t do is “shake up” the financial value of the tight end position, and shouldn’t stop teams from slapping the franchise tag on their tight ends in the coming years. Until the “elite” players of a position are being paid MUCH more than the “above average” ones, the franchise tag will alawys be a “good value” for a team. Graham took a deal today that earned himself more cash, and fit nicely into a tight-capped Saints roster – but he did little to change the direction of the overall value of the tight end going forward – a title he doesn’t even want.

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Salary Cap Fantasy Quarterback Rankings

July 1st, 2014

USATSI_7530849_160074578_lowres As June turns to July, we’ll begin our multi-part Salary Cap Fantasy Rankings series, assessing the best financial values heading into the 2014 season, starting with the Quarterbacks. We’ll assess 2013 true value statistic ratings, with 2014 salary cap dollars, and projected fantasy auction prices
 

Best Young Values

 
Russell Wilson (SEA)
The 2nd best value according to our true value statistic has the 54th highest 2014 cap hit ($817,302) among active quarterbacks. At just 25 years old, Wilson is the prototypical long-term fantasy value, and is pricing out at just $6 in auction leagues thus far.
 

Ryan Tannehill (MIA)
Tannehill had a better year than many remember, posting nearly 4,000 yards along with 24 touchdowns, both major improvements from his rookie campaign. His $3,455,046 cap figure ranks 30th among QBs, comparing to the 4th best valued QB in our efficiency ratings for 2013. He’ll cost you next to nothing in auction leagues.
 

Nick Foles (PHI)
Foles averaged 15 completions for 225 yards and 2 touchdowns through 13 2013 games with the Eagles. The 7th best value’s $770,880 cap hit for 2014 ranks 55th among QBs, and he’s pricing out at $8 in fantasy leagues – a bit of a high price for a such a small sample size.
 

Best Veteran Values

 
Peyton Manning (DEN)
His $17.5 million cap hit ranks 7th among active quarterbacks, but this doesn’t hold back Peyton Manning from being a worthy value in salary cap/auction leagues. Manning outperformed ALL quarterbacks in terms of our true value statistic in 2013, and there’s little reason to believe he won’t do so again in 2014.
 

Drew Brees (NO)
Brees put together another 5,100, 40 TD season in 2013 utilizing his plethora of offensive weapons. He heads into 2014 with the potential rookie of the year in Brandin Cooks adding to the mix, and an $18.4 million cap figure (4th among QBs). Brees turned in the 5th most efficient season according to our TVS rating, and should continue down that path with just a $1M increase in cap dollars.
 

Philip Rivers (SD)
Rivers quietly put together a 4,500 yards, 32 TD (just 11 INT) 2013 season with a less than exceptional arsenal at his disposal. He enters 2014 with just two years remaining on his contract, and a $16.6M cap hit (9th among QBs). A bolstered and healthy running game should open up even more air space for Rivers, who chimed in as the 3rd best valued QB in 2013.
 

Salary Cap Best Values

 
Russell Wilson (SEA) – $817,302
Nick Foles (PHI) – $770,880
Ryan Tannehill (MIA) – $3,455,046
Colin Kaepernick (SF) – $3,767,444
 

Auction League Best Values

 
Russell Wilson (SEA) – $6
Tom Brady (NE) – $2
Philip Rivers (SD) – $1
Ryan Tannehill (MIA) – $0
 

2014 Quarterback Salary/Fantasy Data

Each QB’s 2014 cap hit, 2013 True Value Statistic, and projected Fantasy Auction Price.

Player
Team
Age
2014 Cap
TVS
Price
Peyton ManningDEN38$17,500,0001$49
Russell Wilson SEA25$817,3022$6
Philip RiversSD32$16,666,6663$1
Ryan TannehillMIA25$3,455,0464$0
Drew BreesNO35$18,400,0005$39
Andrew LuckIND24$6,029,4546$14
Nick FolesPHI25$770,8807$8
Aaron RodgersGB30$17,900,0008$43
Tom BradyNE36$14,800,0009$2
Jay CutlerCHI31$18,500,00010$1
Cam NewtonCAR25$7,008,11311$17
Colin KaepernickSF26$3,767,44412$2
Matt RyanATL29$17,500,00013$2
Tony RomoDAL34$11,773,00014$1
Ben RoethlisbergerPIT32$18,895,00015$1
Carson PalmerARI34$12,000,00016$0
Matthew StaffordDET26$15,820,00017$21
Ryan FitzpatrickHOU31$3,375,00018$0
Andy DaltonCIN26$1,659,06319$1
Alex SmithKC30$8,000,00022$0
Matt CasselMIN32$5,750,00023$0
Mike GlennonTB24$705,46924$0
Robert Griffin IIIWAS24$5,759,75425$8
Joe FlaccoBAL29$14,800,00027$0
Geno SmithNYJ23$1,140,81928$0
E.J. ManuelBUF24$2,019,38629$0
Chad HenneJAC28$5,750,00030$0
Matt SchaubOAK33$8,000,00031$0
Eli ManningNYG33$20,400,00032$1

Related: Ranking Quarterback 2014 Cap Hits

TVS ratings calculated here
All statistics drawn from Pro Football Reference
Auction Fantasy Figures from ESPN

 

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Potential NFL Bubble Players & Cap Casualties

June 13th, 2014

With a high percentage of draft picks now signed, and the free agent market finally slowing down to a jogger’s pace, we’ll take a look at each of the NFL rosters and locate a player who still may be considered a roster bubble or cap casualty over the next few months. In some cases we’ve outlined a player who may have more value via a trade than a release or an over-priced roster spot. These are merely projections based on financial value and roster availability. Feel free to leave your thoughts & comments below.

Arizona Cardinals – D. Stanton/R. Lindley (QB)

The selection of QB Logan Thomas in the 4th round of this year’s draft raised a few eyebrows across the league. While he’s a project, he’s most likely a 1-2 year roster guarantee. This leaves Drew Stanton, whom the Cardinals re-signed Drew Stanton to a 3 year $8.2 million contract last season to backup Carson Palmer, and Ryan Lindley a 6th round pick in 2012. Releasing Stanton clears $2M in 2014 cap, while Lindley would free up $570,090. It’s likely these two will be playing for a spot on the roster this August.

Atlanta Falcons -Cliff Matthews (DE)

Before the injury to Sean Weatherspoon, the likely candidate here would have been Osi Umenyiora. For now though we’ll shift gears to the other side of the defensive line, where DE Cliff Matthews stands to enter a contract year, with a cap figure of $656,750. He’s been pushed down the depth chart more each year, and the Falcons can recoup $645,000 in cap space by cutting him loose.

Baltimore Ravens – Jah Reid (G)

The Ravens’ offensive line has seen plenty of shifting since the end of the 2013 season, but Reid ( still doesn’t appear to have his place supplanted. The additions of Will Rackley & A.Q. Shipley at minimum contracts doesn’t bode well either. Baltimore can clear $645,000 in cap space with his release.

Buffalo Bills – C.J. Spiller (RB)

The Bills made plenty of noise by giving up their 2015 1st round draft pick to slide up and select offensive weapon Sammy Watkins this past May. In doing so they bring what many say is a “sure-thing playmaker” to their offense, something the Bills have been hoping to see consistently out of C.J. Spiller over the past 4 seasons. While releasing Spiller makes little to no sense, it’s certainly feasible for the Bills to be shopping him at this point. Spiller is entering the final year of his rookie contract, and holds a $5.916M cap figure (5th highest on the Bills). Trading him clears around $1.58 million in space, but can also bring back a significant draft pick – something the Bills are in need of next season.

Carolina Panthers – Mike McNeill (TE)

The Panthers are fairly deep in the tight end department, with returning weapon Greg Olsen, and the acquisition of Ed Dickson from Baltimore. Carolina actually gave McNeil a 2 year $1.52 million contract this offseason, but just $100,000 guaranteed. His contributions as a blocker and special teamer may force the Panthers to keep him around, but with a $710k cap hit, and $660k in savings, he’s certainly on the bubble.

Chicago Bears – Chris Conte (S)

Conte had a statistically awful 2013, rating out as the 82nd best safety according to PFF. The Bears selected Brock Vereen in the 4th round, a player they feel can contend for playing time in 2014, and also acquired Danny McCray from the Cowboys to add depth in the safety position. It’s Conte’s job to lose heading into training camp. The Bears can clear $1.451 million by cutting him loose.

Cincinnati Bengals – BenJarvus Green-Ellis (RB)

Green-Ellis has been a steady weapon for the Bengals since 2012, but at 28 years old, and with plenty of RB depth now around him, it’s likely he’s on the bubble heading into training camp. BGE is entering the final year of his 3 year $9 million contract, and currently holds a $3 million cap figure for 2014. Cincinnati can clear $2.5 million in space by releasing him.

Cleveland Browns – Isaiah Trufant (CB)

Quite frankly, the Browns have done plenty of roster trimming already this offseason, and may not need to remove much of anything in terms of notable contracts going forward. Cleveland is roster heavy at both the WR and CB positions, and with the recent suspension of Josh Gordon, it’s not likely that the likes of Nate Burleson, Miles Austin, or Earl Bennett are let go anytime soon. The 1st round selection of CB Justin Gilbert should make some noise in Mike Pettine’s defense though, leaving one of the veterans as the odd man out. Releasing Trufant clears $645,000 in cap space ($150,000 guaranteed).

Dallas Cowboys – Jeremy Parnell (OT)

The Cowboys made the safe pick in this year’s 1st round, selecting tackle Zack Martin out of Notre Dame. In light of this, the Cowboys should be able to trim some of their higher offensive line contracts to begin to work their salary cap back to normalcy. Jeremy Parnell is set to count $1.83 million against their 2014 cap. By releasing him the Cowboys can clear a much needed $1.5 million immediately.

Denver Broncos – Joel Dreessen (TE)

The breakout year from Julius Thomas combined with a long-time chemistry between Peyton Manning and Jacob Tamme, mixed in with offseason surgery should spell disaster for Joel Dreessen in 2014. He caught just 7 passes in a reduced role in 2013, and stands to count $3.16 million against the Broncos cap in 2014. His release clears a much needed $2.5 million.

Detroit Lions – Mikel Leshoure (RB)

With 1,000+ yards and 9 TDs in 2012, Leshoure was on everyone’s breakout list. But he carried the ball just two times in 2013, and has all but been forgotten in Detroit with the expanded roles for Joique Bell and Reggie Bush. It’s possible Leshoure carries late-round trade value (similar to Bryce Brown), especially with just $843,297 in contract to be acquired.

Green Bay Packers – Jarrett Bush (CB)

Bush finds himself as the 6th CB on the depth chart heading into training camp, a bad spot to be in with Tramon Williams and Sam Shields leading the way. His $2.03 million cap figure for 2014 makes his situation even worse, and the Packers can clear $1.7 million by releasing him.

Houston Texans – T.J. Yates (QB)

Like the Browns, Houston did much of their trimming early – by releasing some of their bad values, and letting other players walk in free agency. It’s unlikely they’ll make another big splash in terms of cutting the roster, but we know for sure they won’t keep 4 QBs heading into 2014. Yates seems like the odd-man out per his setback year in 2013. He enters the final year of his contract with a $691,250 cap, and will clear $645k with his release.

Indianapolis Colts – LaVon Brazill (WR)

Brazill caught just 18 balls in 2014, and should be pushed further down the depth chart with the acquisition of Hakeem Nicks, and the 3rd round selection of Donte Moncrief. He’s entering year three of his rookie contract, and his release will clear $570k from the Colts cap.

Jacksonville Jaguars – Marcedes Lewis (TE)

While Lewis still shows flashes of strong play at times, he hasn’t produced even close to his cap figure for the past 3 seasons in Jacksonville. At $8.25 million, he enters 2014 with the Jaguars 2nd highest cap hit, and 2nd of any TE in the NFL. The Jaguars may not need the space, but releasing Lewis clears $6.85M.

Kansas City Chiefs – Joe McKnight (RB)

Kansas City cleared plenty of over-valued contracts earlier this year, and have yet to address extensions to key players (QB Alex Smith, LB Justin Houston). In light of this, the Chiefs aren’t expected to make many more drastic moves in the next few months. McKnight certainly seems like the odd man out in the running back rotation with Jamaal Charles, Kniles Davis, and newly drafted weapon De’Anthony Thomas in the mix. He carries a $645,000 contract with no dead money.

Miami Dolphins – Michael Egnew (TE)

He’s barely found the field in two full NFL seasons with the Dolpins, and has clearly been surpassed by breakout TE Charles Clay. His $742,239 2014 cap is nothing to gawk about, but the $595k in cleared space will come in handy should the Dolphins need to rebuild in 2015.

Minnesota Vikings – Christian Ponder (QB)

It makes $0 in financial sense to make this move (barring a trade), as all of Ponder’s $3,232,313 cap figure is guaranteed, but it seems likely that this is a move both parties will need to make this offseason. Ponder certainly has shown signs of compete in his 3 NFL seasons, but his time to prove his long-term value to the franchise has assumingly come and gone. He’ll have no trouble latching onto a team at a lower price-tag should this move be made.

New England Patriots – Patrick Chung (S)

Signed away from the Eagles this April, Chung comes back to Patriots as a depth fill to the secondary. With just $60,000 in guaranteed money (signing bonus), it’s not a financial strain to cut him loose should he struggle to supplant a backup role.

New Orleans Saints – Patrick Robinson (CB)

The former #32 overall pick in 2010, Robinson is projected to be a depth-fill to the Saints secondary in 2014. His $2.8M cap figure may be too rich for his role, especially with the Saints close to the cap-ceiling heading into July. He’ll clear $1.35M with his release.

New York Giants – James Brewer (G)

Brewer doesn’t have the skill to be a starting guard nor the versatility to be a flexible depth option for the Giants. He carries a $758,023 cap into his final contract year, and can clear $650,000 with a release.

New York Jets – Mike Goodson (RB)

It doesn’t cost the Jets anything to carry Goodson as a camp back until the end of the offseason, but it’s highly likely they part ways before the final roster is set. He’s faced legal troubles, suspensions, and has been replaced four times over with Chris Johnson, Bilal Powell, Chris Ivory, and Alex Green. He also clears $1 million in cap space when cut loose.

Oakland Raiders – Kevin Burnett (LB)

The Raiders bolstered their defensive front this offseason by acquiring Justin Tuck (NYG), Antonio Smith (HOU), Pat Sims (CIN), and of course selected Khalil Mack. In addition, the linebacking core actually improved in 2013, bumping Kevin Burnett and his $4.142 million 2014 cap figure down the depth chart. His release clears $3.5 million in cap.

Philadelphia Eagles – Casey Matthews (LB)

Matthews has little to no role in the Eagles’ current defensive structure, making him simply a special teams asset. His role was increased in 2013 due to injury, and should make him a strong case for a release out of camp. He’ll clear $645k should they do so.

Pittsburgh Steelers – Sean Spence (LB)

Spence will attempt to return from a major injury in 2013. The Steelers have made it clear he’ll get a shot to compete in camp, but it’s possible they move on from his risky situation shortly thereafter. He carries a $726,435 cap into his 3rd NFL season, and can be let go for $136,345 over each of the next two seasons.

San Diego Chargers – Jonas Mouton (LB)

The former 2nd round pick has slowly fallen into a third string role over his 3 NFL seasons in San Diego. While it’s possible for him to beat out veterans Kavell Connor, and Reggie Walker his $984,477 cap prices higher than both. He’ll likely need a strong showing to keep himself in the running.

San Francisco 49ers - Adam Snyder (G)

The 49ers utility lineman in 2013, Snyder actually handled his own fairly well. But San Francisco added strong depth to their line this offseason in Jonathan and Marcus Martin. The $1.3 million cap figure for Snyder may price him out of a job this offseason, clearing $1.05 million should he be released.

Seattle Seahawks – Terrelle Pryor (QB)

He certainly fits the Seahawks current offensive mold, but all signs point to Tarvaris Jackson winning out the backup role behind Wilson (especially with a fully guaranteed $1.25M contract). It’s possible this is the end of the road for Pryor in the NFL. It costs the Seahawks nothing to cut him loose.

St. Louis Rams – Isaiah Pead (RB)

3 months ago I was typed Sam Bradford into this spot without blinking. But the Rams did nothing to bring in a QB to even compete for the starting role in 2014. This being said, the running back pool in St. Louis has gotten surprisingly deep, and the odd man out appears to be former 2nd round pick Isaiah Pead, who had just 7 attempts in 2013. His $1.1 million cap figure for 2014 stands to be overpriced, and the Rams will clear $757,100 with his release.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers – Da’Quan Bowers (DE)

Bowers seems to be a “Lovie” type player. But reports out of Tampa Bay say his conditioning and current production isn’t near where they want it to be thus far. He’ll certainly get a camp to make this better, but should the Buccaneers move on they’ll clear $900,768 from his $1.226 million cap figure.

Tennessee Titans – Patrick Bailey (LB)

He’s been a special teams asset at best over the past 4 seasons with the Titans, and his $1.3 million cap figure for 2014 seems mighty high for this type of role. Tennessee can clear $1.2 million of it by releasing him this offseason.

Washington Redskins – Logan Paulsen (TE)

He was rated 61st among tight ends in 2013 according to PFF, and his $2.23 million cap figure stands way too high for a potential 3rd-string player. The Redskins can clear $1.87 million in 2014 by releasing him.

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Current Financial Value: Marshawn Lynch

June 12th, 2014

USATSI_7642124_160074578_lowresMarshawn Lynch is asking for a new contract in Seattle. | USA Today

It’s that special time of year when some veteran NFL players come forward with gripes and concerns over their current contracts. We’ve recently heard from 49ers TE, and recently IPO’ed Vernon Davis, who claims that his 2nd highest annual average salary makes him underpaid in the league.

And now we’re beginning to hear rumblings from the Seahawks camp that running back Marshawn Lynch isn’t pleased with his current pay a well. We’ll take a look at Lynch’s current pay structure, and shed a little light toward what his current value may be in terms of a restructured contract going forward.

 

Lynch’s Current Contract

While Lynch’s current deal holds an average annual salary of $7.5 million, the $13 million in cash remaining through 2015 leaves him with $6.5 million per year – well paid, but 9th most among active running backs.
Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 9.28.03 AMLynchs’ current contract ends in 2015.

His $7 million cap figure for 2014 ranks 6th among running backs, and the $9 million hit for 2015 ranks 3rd. His $3 million in dead money (cap cost to be released or traded) rank 14th, a fairly low figure for a back of his worth. It’s a smart time for Lynch to at least be knockin on the door for a new deal – as all of the pieces are in place to do so. We’ll evaluate his production below to assess a new value.

 

Production Analysis

Over the last 2 seasons, Lynch averages out to the #4th best rated running back according to Pro Football Focus. His impact and importance to the Seahawks offense isn’t a secret, and at age 28, and with minimal injuries over the course of his hard-hitting career, it’s safe to assume that Lynch can still provide top value in Seattle for a number of years down the road.

The problem with increasing Lynch’s annual salary (to be closer to the likes of the Petersons and McCoys), comes with his lack of a receiving game. Lynch has been targeted out of the backfield just 2.29 times a game since 2012, nearly half the average targets of Peterson, Forte, Gore, D. Williams, Foster, and McCoy prior to their new contracts. In fact, Lynch’s receiving numbers across the board are significantly lower than our target running backs in recent years, as shown below.

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 9.51.13 AMReceiving Stat Comparisons for Top Running Backs

In terms of the rushing game, Lynch matches up extremely well (as you might imagine). He’s inline with, or better than all of our target backs, with the exception of fumbles – where Lynch appears to be lacking control.

Screen Shot 2014-06-12 at 9.56.19 AMRushing Stat Comparisons for Top Running Backs

 

Financial Projection

All this being said, a quick forecast for Marshawn Lynch (using Spotrac’s projection formula), shows that Lynch might actually be due a bit of a raise. Our adjusted figures come out to a 3 year $25.7 million extension for the 28 year old, an average of $8.6M per year. With just $3 million in dead money currently, un-allocated signing bonus from the previous deal, it would make sense for the Seahawks to hand Lynch a sizeable signing bonus, giving him cash in hand, and pro-rating the majority of this $26 million across a total of 5 years, for cap management purposes.

The $8.6 million annual average would place Lynch 4th on this list, still behind Peterson, McCoy, and Foster – but rightfully so based on their ability to be utilized more in the passing game. While it’s not necessary to touch Lynch’s deal at all – reducing his $7 million cap figure in 2014, and $9 million cap for 2015 might be useful to the Seahawks going forward.

 

Related: Seattle Seahawks Contracts

 

 

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Evaluating Full Guarantees in NFL Contracts

June 11th, 2014

One of the more carelessly reported figures surrounding new NFL contracts is the “guaranteed dollars” associated with the deal. For many years this was a cut and dry process, as signing bonuses generally made up the majority of guarantees a player would receive throughout a contract. But the modern contract has a number of ways to get player cash in hands quickly and without many conditions.

The recent extension to Colin Kaeprnick isn’t unique in the sense of maximum dollars – or even upfront money. But, staying true to the 49ers standards in contract structuring, the “pay as you go” combined with a heavy set of conditions probably raised a few eyebrows to teams across the league who are looking to lock in their franchise players with a little less risk in the long-term.

In light of this, we’ll take a look at a list of free agent signings and extensions over the past few months with at least 5 year lengths. We’ll assess the total contract value, the amount of cash to be earned in the first three years of the deal, the maximum amount of fully guaranteed dollars available (if all conditions are met), and the fully guaranteed dollars available at the time of signing.

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Top 2015 NFL Free Agents

June 10th, 2014

It’s never too early to begin looking forward. We’ll take a look at the top NFL players entering contract years in 2014, setting themselves up for a possible run at the free agent market in 2015. In addition, we’ll note the players who had their 5th-year options exercised, making them possible candidates for long-term extensions in the coming months.


Top Expiring Offensive Contracts

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Player Pos. Team Age 2014 Cap
Alex Smith QB KC 30 $8,000,000
Carson Palmer QB ARI 34 $12,000,000
Frank Gore RB SF 31 $6,450,000
Fred Jackson RB BUF 33 $3,850,000
Ryan Mathews RB SD 26 $3,612,000
Wes Welker WR DEN 33 $8,000,000
Roddy White WR ATL 32 $6,325,000
Reggie Wayne WR IND 35 $6,166,668
Michael Crabtree WR SF 26 $4,770,443
Demaryius Thomas WR DEN 26 $4,700,000
Jordy Nelson WR GB 29 $4,375,000
Dez Bryant WR DAL 25 $3,148,500
Jimmy Graham TE NO 27 $7,035,000
Jordan Cameron TE CLE 25 $1,550,350
King Dunlap OT PHI 28 $2,425,000
Michael Roos OT TEN 31 $6,625,000
Orlando Franklin OT DEN 26 $1,386,000
Doug Free OT DAL 30 $6,520,000

Clearly the wide receivers are the class of this group, with a number of young, dominant superstars all nearing the end of the deals in parallel. It’s possible that many are given contract extensions this offseason – though some may enter the season without one. The Chiefs and Alex Smith still appear far apart in their negotiations, making 2014 a very interesting season in Kansas City. The same can be said for Jimmy Graham and the Saints. It’s highly likely this marriage splits after the 2014 season, making Graham potentially the most talented player in the 2015 free agent class.

Related:  Complete list of 2015 NFL Free Agents 

 


Top Expiring Defensive Contracts

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Player Pos. Team Age 2014 Cap
Ndamukong Suh DT DET 27 $22,412,500
Gerald McCoy DT TB 26 $15,627,253
Terrance Knighton DT DEN 27 $2,750,000
Greg Hardy DE CAR 25 $13,116,000
Cory Redding DE IND 33 $4,391,667
Brian Orakpo OLB WAS 27 $11,455,00
Justin Houston OLB KC 25 $1,598,812
Brandon Spikes ILB BUF 26 $3,250,000
David Harris ILB NYJ 30 $7,000,000
Darrelle Revis CB NE 28 $7,000,000
Chris Harris CB DEN 24 $2,187,000
Devin McCourty S NE 26 $5,115,000
Antrel Rolle S NYG 31 $9,250,000

Plenty of big men lead the 2015 free agent class currently, including names like Suh, McCoy, and Hardy. But with extensions likely forthcoming for all, Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston may be the cream of this crop when it’s all said and done. While Darrelle Revis is technically on the books with the Patriots for 2015 – it comes with an obsurd cap figure of $25 million. It’s likely a strong start to his 2014 brings a long-term restructured extension between the two.

Related:  Complete list of 2015 NFL Free Agents 


Players 5th-Year Optioned for 2015

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Player Pos. Team Age 2015 Cap
Cam Newton QB CAR 25 $14,666,666
Von Miller OLB DEN 25 $9,754,000
Marcell Dareus DT BUF 24 $8,060,000
A.J. Green WR CIN 25 $10,176,000
Patrick Peterson CB ARI 23 $10,081,000
Julio Jones WR ATL 25 $10,176,000
Aldon Smith OLB SF 24 $9,754,000
Tyron Smith OT DAL 23 $10,039,000
J.J. Watt DE HOU 25 $6,969,000
Robert Quinn DE STL 24 $6,969,000
Mike Pouncey C MIA 24 $7,438,000
Ryan Kerrigan OLB WAS 25 $7,038,000
Nate Solder OT NE 26 $7,438,000
Corey Liuget DE SD 24 $6,969,000
Prince Amukamara CB NYG 25 $6,898,000
Phil Taylor DT CLE 26 $5,477,000
Anthony Castonzo OT IND 25 $7,438,000
Cameron Jordan DE NO 24 $6,969,000
Jimmy Smith CB BAL 25 $6,898,000
Muhammad Wilkerson DE NYJ 24 $6,969,000
Cameron Heyward DE PIT 25 $6,969,000

Related:  2011 NFL 1st Round Draft Picks

 

 

 

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Recent Contract Forecasts & Projections

June 5th, 2014

The NFL offseason isn’t just a time for free agent signings, newly acquired draft picks, and team re-building, but it’s a time for current players to sit back and assess their current financial situation. For many players entering contract years, the name of the game is the long-term extension. For veterans with near-expiring contracts, the name of the game is more upfront cash. In either case, we’ve placed a number of current NFL players into our forecast formula to project their current worth in terms of a new or extended contract.

 

Players Not Yet Signed

 

Michael Crabtree, WR, 49ers

The former #10 overall selection in the 2009 draft is about to enter his contract year in San Francisco, but has yet to bring his statistical production up to the likes of DeSean Jackson, Mike Wallace, or even Pierre Garcon prior to their signings.

Estimated Projection: 5 years, $45 million; $13.6M guaranteed.

 

J.J. Watt, DE, Texans

With three seasons now in the books, Houston Texans’ defensive end J.J. Watt has risen to the top of his position in dominating fashion. A great rookie season in 2011 (7 sacks, 42 tackles, 40 stops) has been nearly doubled in back to back seasons. The sky is limit for Watt financially, and the leg work we’ve done simply projects his “base value” as of now.

Estimated Projection: 6 years, $142.2 million; $55.6M guaranteed.

 

Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals

Dalton has posted a 29-18 record as the Bengals’ starter, leading them to three consecutive playoff appearances. But inconsistent play at times, and no “wow” moment to hang his hat on has kept many skeptical.

Estimated Projection: 5 years, $94 million; $31.8M guaranteed.

 

Alex Smith, QB, Chiefs

The former 49ers quarterback may not be quite in the Colin Kaepernick range, but statistically he held up well against the likes of Romo, E. Manning, Cutler, and Schaub. The Chiefs still don’t appear eager to make this deal a long-term one, but what long-term deal is actually long-term in this day anyway? Estimated Projection: 5 years, $78 million; $24M guaranteed.

 

Patrick Peterson, CB, Cardinals

Patrick Peterson believes he’s the best in the business, and in terms of our statistical comparisons, he’s got a point, as the 23 year old basically washed when assessed against Revis, Sherman, Carr, J. Joseph, and B. Flowers. He’ll demand more, but his current value estimates out at:

Estimated Projection: 5 years, $52 million; $28.5M guaranteed.

 

Dez Bryant, WR, Cowboys

Dez is the first WR we’ve evaluated that didn’t produce a negative statistical prime percentage when including Calvin Johnson’s all-world statistics. He holds up with the best (Calvin, Larry, Andre, & Mike Wallace(?)), and has progressed each year on an up and down Dallas offense. The Cowboys will need to be creative to fit this in:

Estimated Projection: 5 years, $70 million; $22.1M guaranteed.

 

C.J. Spiller, RB, Bills

Add in recurring injuries and an in/out role in the offense for three seasons to an already de-valued position, and the financial future for Spiller may not be as bright as anticipated. He’s likely in line for Reggie Bush’s latest deal.

Estimated Projection: 3 years, $12.1 million; $3M guaranteed.

 

Vernon Davis, TE, 49ers

The 30 year old tight end is a major weapon for the 49ers offense, but doesn’t quite have the role statistically that some of the recently signed TEs do (Witten, Gates). He’s already paid well in terms of average salary, so the name of this game is upfront cash.

Estimated Projection: 3 years, $19 million; $10.2M guaranteed.

 

Jordy Nelson, WR, Packers

He’s been underpaid for years in Green Bay, and it appears the big contract is forthcoming. Nelson held up well statistically against former teammate Greg Jennings, Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe, and Brandon Marshall. The Packers have been reluctant to pay well for pass-catchers, but it’s likely this one gets done (soon).

Estimated Projection: 4 years, $44 million; $21.5M guaranteed.

 

Players Who Have Signed

 

Colin Kaepernick, QB, 49ers

It took a little longer than expected, but the Niners locked in their franchise QB in their typical “pay-as-you-go” format. It’s a deal that opens the eyes at first glance, but actually settles right into a good value when broken down.

Spotrac’s Projection: 6 years, $118.4 million; $44M guaranteed.49ers’ Contract: 6 years, $126 million; $61M guaranteed.

 

DeSean Jackson, WR, Redskins

The former Eagle was run out of town this spring, and quickly found a new home with division-rival Redskins.

Spotrac’s Projection: 5 years, $48.2 million; $15M guaranteed.Redskins’ Contract: 4 years, $32 million; $16M guaranteed.

 

Eric Decker, WR, Jets

The former Bronco was allowed to test the market this March, and the Jets wasted no time making him their new goto target, at a pretty decent value based on our projection.

Spotrac’s Projection: 5 years, $57.4 million; $18.4M guaranteed.
Jets’ Contract: 5 years, $36.25 million; $15M guaranteed.

 

Richard Sherman, CB, Seahawks

The former Bronco was allowed to test the market this March, and the Jets wasted no time making him their new goto target, at a pretty decent value based on our projection.

Spotrac’s Projection: 6 years, $92.7 million; $49M guaranteed.
Seahawks’ Contract: 4 years, $56 million; $40M guaranteed.

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Breaking Down the Kaepernick Deal

June 5th, 2014

USATSI_7424891_160074578_lowresAfter weeks of discussion the San Francisco 49ers finally reached an agreement to lock in their franchise quarterback Colin Kaernick for the forseeable future. The deal hands Kaepernick nearly $126 million over 6 years, but as is usually the case these days – contain plenty of “ifs”. We’ll take a look at the details here.

Screen Shot 2014-06-05 at 8.55.20 AMIn 2014
Kaepernick receives a $12.328 million signing bonus, + a base salary of $645,000 and a workout bonus of $100,000. This means $13.073 million in upfront cash, a $12.1 million increase from the $973,766 he was set to earn in from his previous contract. The salary and signing bonus are fully guaranteed. His cap figure for 2014 increases from $1,630,457 to $3,767,291.

In 2015
he’ll receive a $12.4 million base salary that as of now is guaranteed for injury only. The salary becomes fully guaranteed on April 1, 2015. In addition Kaepernick will earn $125,000 for each game he’s active, for a combined $2 million likely to be earned roster bonus. He’ll also receive a $400,000 workout bonus for attending offseason training. His cap figure for 2015 is now $17,265,000, the 15th highest in the NFL.

In 2016
he’ll receive a $13.9 million base salary that also doesn’t fully guarantee until April 1, 2016. Once again he earns $125,000 per active game and a $400,000 workout bonus. His cap figure for 2016 is now $18.765,600, 9th highest in the NFL as of now.

In 2017
he’ll receive a $16 million base salary that fully guarantees on April 1, 2017. Once again he earns $125,000 per active game and a $400,000 workout bonus. His cap figure for 2017 is $21,365,600.

In 2018
he’ll receive a $17 million base salary, but only $5.2 million fully guarantees on April 1, 2018. Once again he earns $125,000 per active game and a $400,000 workout bonus. His cap figure for 2018 is $21,865,600.

Kaepernick has non-guaranteed base salaries of $18.8 million and $21 million in 2019, 2020 respectively, going along with the $2 million in per game bonuses, and $400,000 workout bonuses. He holds cap figures of $21.2 million and $23.4 million in his final seasons (unlikely to stand).

Guaranteed Money
In terms of guaranteed money just the 2014 salary, signing bonus, and for all intents and purposes workout bonus stand on the books upfront. April 1st becomes his trigger date in 2015-2018, when additional salary fully guarantees. The per game bonus saves the 49ers should Kaepernick miss a few weeks here and there, but the real IF comes in terms of a de-escalator.

De-Escalator
The contract contains a $12 million de-escalator clause that could drop Kaepernick’s base salary by $2 million each from 2015-2020. He can avoid this
decrease by playing in 80% of the 49ers snaps AND either taking the team to the Super Bowl or becoming a 1st or 2nd team All-Pro. This incentive exists each year. His performance in 2014 will directly affect his salary in 2015, and so forth. This is a unique component to a maximum contract, and one that could become leveraged more with the “running quarterback” become prevelant in the league again.

Insurance
The final piece to the puzzle is a $20 million disability policy that the 49ers will force Kaepernick to purchase should he suffer a career-ending injury at any point of the deal. While this seems like legal symantics, it’s another smart component by the 49ers based on the skillset of their quarterback.

How Does This Rank

This is indeed, a maximum extension.

 

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