NFL Team Spending: Running Backs

April 4th, 2014

USATSI_7575553_160074578_lowresThe recent shuffling of major NFL running backs across the league furthers the continued de-valuing of the position. We’ll examine how NFL teams are allocating their 2014 salary cap dollars to their running backs in terms of dollars and percentages.

Related: 2014 NFL Running Back Player Cap Figures


RB Cap
% of Cap
Minnesota Vikings$15,812,66611.84%4$3,953,167
Philadelphia Eagles$13,351,0548.94%5$2,670,211
Buffalo Bills$12,468,5828.28%6$2,078,097
Carolina Panthers$11,106,4508.01%3$3,702,150
Houston Texans$10,405,0007.74%5$2,081,000
Baltimore Ravens$9,953,9867.56%4$2,488,497
Seattle Seahawks$9,465,3886.97%5$1,893,078
San Francisco 49ers$9,100,1056.72%5$1,820,021
Detroit Lions$8,823,1076.67%5$1,764,621
San Diego Chargers$8,535,3336.32%5$1,707,067
Chicago Bears$8,396,1666.31%2$4,198,083
Atlanta Falcons$7,622,9165.62%5$1,524,583
Kansas City Chiefs$7,130,2555.30%4$1,782,564
New Orleans Saints$6,046,8754.55%5$1,209,375
Cincinnati Bengals$6,184,4914.37%5$1,236,898
Oakland Raiders$5,695,5504.35%5$1,139,110
Miami Dolphins$6,524,5214.33%6$1,087,420
New York Jets$5,213,0373.89%4$1,303,259
Jacksonville Jaguars$5,838,4033.85%4$1,459,601
Cleveland Browns$5,756,2503.67%7$822,321
New York Giants$4,497,0203.41%4$1,124,255
Indianapolis Colts$4,493,8483.37%5$898,770
Tampa Bay Buccaneers$4,518,2193.24%6$753,037
Tennessee Titans$4,438,3333.20%3$1,479,444
Green Bay Packers$4,297,6763.03%6$716,279
Washington Redskins$3,335,5882.53%4$833,897
St. Louis Rams$3,215,2322.44%5$643,046
Arizona Cardinals$3,294,3652.40%4$823,591
New England Patriots$3,035,6092.18%4$758,902
Dallas Cowboys$2,708,8452.02%3$902,948
Denver Broncos$2,514,2211.85%4$628,555
Pittsburgh Steelers$2,196,5001.64%5$439,300

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Predicting DeSean Jackson’s Contract

March 31st, 2014

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

He’s quickly become the most sought after player on the NFL free agent market, and as he makes his rounds to interested franchises – and off-the-field reports circulate – former Eagles WR DeSean Jackson becomes the next candidate for our forecast projection tool.

Jackson actually had a great 2013 season, catching 82 balls for 1,332 yards and 9 touchdowns. His 2012 numbers saw a considerable dip after hitting the IR in late november with broken ribs. It’s feasible to assume that a full 2012 season might have drawn our percentages even across the board.

For purposes of a fair value estimate, we’ll attack Jackson’s statistical production from two angles: His actual numbers in 2012 & 2013, and the projected 2012 numbers had he played all 16 games (missed 5 weeks with broken ribs). The result will be two contract values that we’ll average to formulate our official contract prediction.

View the complete forecast for DeSean Jackson’s next contract


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Trading Desean Jackson, Financially

March 19th, 2014


It’s been rumored that teams have shown interest in taking seemingly overpaid WR DeSean Jackson off the Philadelphia Eagles’ hands via trade.  A quick look at his remaining contract years show cap figures of $12.75M, $12M, and $10.5M through 2016.

DeSean Jackson’s current contract with the Eagles.
Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 8.06.53 AM
Jackson is owed $29.25 million  in cash over the next three years, money that would all transfer to the receiving team in a trade. Of that, only $250,000 of his 2014 base salary is fully guaranteed.

Should a trade occur, the Eagles would incur $6 million in dead money from the unallocated  signing bonus proration. The receiving team would acquire Jackson with cap hits of $10.75M, $10M, and $8.5M respectively, dropping him from the 5th highest 2014 cap to the 9th.
DeSean Jackson’s Contract if Traded
Screen Shot 2014-03-19 at 8.22.40 AM Jackson’s $9.7M average salary per year ranks him 7th among active WRs. Coincidentally, Pro Football Focus rated him the 7th best WR in 2013 – so it’s fair to say his current deal has some value to it. With that being said, it’s perfectly conceivable that Jackson rips up his current deal if traded to a new team in order to put together a longer-term (with more upfront money).

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Top Free Agent Signings by Position

March 14th, 2014

Now some 64 hours into the 2014 NFL Free Agent Season and the chaos has certainly lived up to the hype. From blockbuster releases, to record-setting signings, followed by failed physicals, and even the lost art of trading, there’s no question that nearly all NFL teams still see free agency as the integral method for building their roster. We’ll cut into the mess and break down the biggest (or most impressive) contract at each position thus far.



Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
McCown signed a 2 year $10 million deal with the Bucs after a note-worthy 2013 season in Chicago filling in for the oft-injured Jay Cutler. Like most Tampa Bay contracts, his deal contains no up-front bonuses, rather base salaries of $4.75M and $5.25M respectively. He can earn $1M more per year based on his games started, and another $3M if he takes the Bucs to the playoffs. McCown’s $5M per year average salary ranks 22nd among active quarterbacks.


Running Back

Donald Brown, San Diego Chargers
Brown’s 3 year $10.5M deal with the Chargers is nearly $1.5M more per year than the rookie contract he just completed in Indianapolis. With both Ryan Mathews and Danny Woodhead entering contract years, this deal is built to make Brown the short-term future in San Diego. His $3.5M average salary ranks 18th among active running backs.


Wide Receiver

Eric Decker, New York Jets
Decker reels in $36.25M over 5 years with the Jets – 41% of which is fully guaranteed (all in the first two seasons). This is a win-win deal for both sides, as it upgrades the Jets immediately, pays Decker immediately, and gives both a chance to part ways after the 2015 season should the need be there. Decker’s $7.25M average salary ranks 16th among active wide receivers.


Tight End

Garret Graham, Houston Texans
Once Houston parted ways with long-time TE Owen Daniels, the writing was on the wall for a new deal with Graham. The result was a 3 year $11.25M contract with $4.5M guaranteed, making him the 18th highest average paid tight end to date. This is a low-risk signing for Houston, who have plenty of more holes to fill on the offensive side of the ball.


Offensive Line

Branden Albert, Miami Dolphins
The long-time Chief leveraged a 2013 franchise tender into the 3rd largest free agent contract of the season thus far, signing a 5 year $47 million deal in Miami. Albert earns $20 million guaranteed, all in the next two seasons, with another $6 million possible in 2016. He’ll be an immediate upgrade to the offensive line, and at 29 years old should maintain above average play through most of this deal. His $9.4M average salary ranks 7th among NFL tackles.


Defensive Line

Demarcus Ware, Denver Broncos
The Dallas Cowboys biggest cap casualty quickly found a new home on a great Broncos team, in the amount of $30 million over 3 years. The deal includes $16.5 million in initial guarantees, and $6.5M more if he’s on the roster next March. It’s a huge pull for a proven pass rusher. His $10M average salary ranks 6th among active defensive ends.

Michael Johnson, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Like Albert, Johnson leveraged his franchise tender in Seattle into a blockbuster deal this offseason, signing a 5 year $43.75 million contract in Tampa Bay. In typical pay-as-you-go Buccaneers fashion, Johnson will earn $18 million in the next two seasons, $16M of which is fully guaranteed. his $8.75M average salary ranks 8th among defensive ends.



Karlos Dansby, Cleveland Browns
Cleveland made plenty of noise in the first 48 hours of free agency, all starting with a 4 year $24 million contract to the former Dolphin/Cardinal. Dansby receives $12 million in fully guaranteed salary and signing bonus – $10 million of which he earns in 2014. This is a strong deal for both parties.



Aqib Talib, Denver Broncos
18 months ago Talib was traded to the Patriots for a 4th round draft pick. He re-signed for 2013 on a 1 year, incentive loaded deal. Tuesday afternoon Talib agreed to a 6 year $57 million contract with the Denver Broncos, the largest contract of any cornerback in football currently. He garners $26 million in guarantees, $11.5 million of which comes in 2014. He’s now the 7th highest average paid cornerback in the NFL.



Jairus Byrd, New Orleans Saints
After months of exhausting (media-driven) drama with the Buffalo Bills in terms of franchise tenders, long-term deals, and trades – Byrd heads south to New Orleans to sign the richest contract for a safety in NFL history – 6 years $54 million. The $26.3 million guaranteed is also a record for safeties, eclipsing Dashon Goldson’s $22 million with the Buccaneers a few years back. The 27 year old Byrd earns $9 million per year, a figure many assured Byrd he was worth, making him the highest average paid safety in football.



Dan Carpenter, Buffalo Bills
Carpenter was a last minute signing with the Bills in 2013, penning a veteran minimum $715k deal on September 2nd. He went on to make 92% of his field goals, including 14 out of 17 from 40+ yards. The result, a 4 year $9.95 million deal to remain in Buffalo, $3.425 million of which is earned in 2014.



Donnie Jones, Philadelphia Eagles
Like Carpenter, Donnie Jones was a veteran minimum add-on to the Eagles in 2013, who turns around to sign a 3 year $5.5 million contract. The 33 year old will earn $2 million in 2014, then $1.75 million in 2015 and 2016. He stands as the 12th highest average paid punter in the NFL.

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Understanding 2014 Post June 1st Cuts

March 12th, 2014

USATSI_7644005_160074578_lowresUSA Today Sports – Matthew Emmons
One of the more complex phrases prevalently used this time of year is the Post June 1st release. I’ll do my best to explain this in layman’s terms as it most often applies to a player.

Real Example:
The Cowboys recently released WR Miles Austin, designated him a Post June 1st Release. He carries $7,855,600 in total dead cap right now, $2,749,400 of which is allocated to the 2014 cap, $5,106,200 if which will accelerate to the Cowboys’ 2015 cap.

The first thing to note is that Austin is being released on March 12th, and being designated a June 1st release. Per the rules of the CBA each team has the option to designate two players per year in this manner. The catch here is that Austin’s current contract must stay completely active on the Cowboys’ books until June 2nd. This means his original $8,249,400 cap figure will remain on the Cowboys salary cap until this time.

One June 2nd, all Post June 1st Designations are properly allocated in this manner:

  • Any bonus money allocated to the current year (2014) + any guaranteed salary throughout the remainder of the contract turns into 2014 dead money. In the case of Austin this includes the $2,749,400 in restructure bonuses.
  • Any bonus money allocated to the remaining years of the deal (2015+) are accelerated into 2015 dead money. In the case of Austin this means $5,106,200.


Currently Designated June 1st Releases

Player Team Pos. 2014 Cap 2014 Dead Money 2015 Dead Money
Miles Austin DAL WR $8,249,400 $2,749,400 $5,106,200
Thomas DeCoud ATL S $4,800,000 $600,000 $1,200,000
LaMarr Woodley PIT LB $13,590,000 $5,590,000 $8,580,000
Carlos Rogers SF CB $8,094,531 $1,494,531 $1,494,531
David Baas NYG C $8,225,000 $3,225,000 $3,225,000
Daryn Colledge ARI G $4550000 $2,275,000 $2,275,000


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NFL Free Agency Positional Spending

March 12th, 2014

Positional Spending

Screen Shot 2014-03-12 at 7.44.25 AMPositional Spending Chart from our NFL Team Building Tool (free)
As you may have already gathered, no position was more prevalent in day 1 than the safety – which saw 10 free agent deals for a total of $176.25M, 36.6% of which is guaranteed. These safeties earned an annual average of $5.34M.

Not far behind are the consistently high-paid left tackles, 4 of which were signed on Tuesday, amassing $162M – 50.3% of which is guaranteed money. The average left tackle signed a 5 year $40.5M contract with $20M guaranteed yesterday.

Linebackers were all but lost on day 1 of the craziness. A total of 4 were signed (2 ILB, 2 OLB) accruing just $36.5M in contracts. The average age of the 4 signed linebackers (29.5) probably played a large role in this.

Only 1 free agent tight end was signed on Tuesday (Brandon Myers, 2 years $4.25M to Tampa Bay), leaving plenty of room for discussion in the next few days.

Even more surprising – only 2 wide receivers put pen to paper, Andre Roberts who left Arizona for the Redskins, and slash player Dexter McCluster who found a new home in Tennessee. Expect plenty of movement in the next 48 hours from a deep list of tier two free agent receivers.

The average running back contract is currently coming in at around $7M, or $2.9M per year.

No free agent quarterbacks were signed by new teams yesterday, though the Jaguars did trade their busted franchise QB Blaine Gabbert to the San Francisco 49ers.

Pos. # Total $ Guaranteed % G’teed
S 10 176,250,000 64,500,000 36.6%
LT 4 162,000,000 81,500,000 50.31%
DE 4 136,750,000 49,000,000 35.83%
CB 6 124,375,000 60,500,000 48.64%
DT 5 93,500,000 28,340,000 30.31%
G 4 47,000,000 18,000,000 38.3%
WR 4 40,200,000 17,300,000 43.03%
RT 2 30,000,000 15,000,000 50%
ILB 2 25,500,000 12,100,000 47.45%
RB 4 22,750,000 8,500,000 37.36%
OLB 2 11,000,000 300,000 2.73%
P 1 5,500,000 1,000,000 18.18%
TE 1 4,250,000 2,000,000 47.06%


Related Links


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Spotrac’s 2014 NFL Offseason Tools

March 11th, 2014

NFL Free Agent Signing Tracker (free)


Our free agent tracker provides a complete listing of all available free agents for each season, and will be updated accordingly to show full contract terms for new signings as they come to our attention.

Use our tracker filter to specify free agents by team, position, or even drafted college.

Select a player from the list to view his player card, containing current and previous contract breakdowns, cap information, rankings, transactions, and more.

» Launch this tool


NFL Team Salary Cap Tracker (free)

teamsalarycapThe NFL team salary cap tracker provides a snapshot look at each team’s current allocation toward a specific year’s salary cap. We break down team spending by Offense & Defense, show any rollover dollars from the year’s previous cap, and project estimated space toward the current overall NFL cap figure.

Selecting any of the teams from the list leads you to the player by player breakdown of each salary cap table.

» Launch this tool


NFL Offseason Team-Building Tool (free)


Our team-building tool, developed by Spotrac Premium’s lead man Scott Allen, includes an in-depth, real-time look at the categorical spending of each team throughout the offseason, including the current Waiver Period, Free Agent Season, Draft Signings, and Undrafted Free Agent deals.

Track spendings by:

When looking specifically at a team (by selecting one from the main view), the tool provides an even deeper look at each of the offseason moves, including Offense/Defense breakdowns, Re-Signings, Extensions, Restricted Tenders, Reserve/Future deals, etc…

» Launch this tool


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60 Potential NFL Cap Casualties

March 6th, 2014

USATSI_6896736_160074578_lowresThe third edition of our early offseason cap casualties series contains sixty players being discussed as on the bubble to return to their respective team due to their 2014 cap value.

Notable Points

The longer the waiver period moves on, the more questionable Demarcus Ware’s future in Dallas seems. He’s made it clear that a paycut is not an option, but a restructured/extension might be. However the Cowboys’ frequent, somewhat careless, restructing process is a major factor in their current salary cap mess ($24.1M over the cap at the time of this piece). His $16M cap figure for 2014 ranks 4th among DEs, and 16th among all NFL players. A straight release would clear $7.43M from the Cowboy’s cap.

Potential 2014 Cap Cuts

Players in bold/lined-through have been released.
Players in green have restructured and/or extended their contract to reduce 2014 cap.

Player Pos. Team 2014 Cap 2014 Savings Source
Daryn Colledge G ARI $7,275,000 $4,800,000 (6/1) Mike Jurecki
Jerraud Powers CB ARI $4,750,000 $2,750,000 ESPN
Thomas DeCoud S ATL $4,800,000 $3,000,000 ESPN
Garrett Reynolds G ATL $1,628,750 $1,378,750 ESPN
Terrell Suggs LB BAL $12,400,000 $7,800,000
Sam Koch P BAL $2,800,000 $1,600,000 ESPN
Jameel McClain LB BAL $4,400,000 $3,200,000 ESPN
Kevin Kolb QB BUF $3,600,000 $3,100,000
Erik Pears OT BUF $3,450,000 $2,900,000 WGR550
Charles Godfrey S CAR $7,100,000 $5,100,000 (6/1) ESPN
Julius Peppers DT CHI $18,183,000 $14,000,000 (6/1) Dan Pompei
Earl Bennett WR CHI $2,450,000 $2,450,000 TSBN
Lance Briggs OLB CHI $6,500,000 $5,500,000 TSBN
Miles Austin WR DAL $8,249,400 $5,500,000 (6/1) ESPN
Demarcus Ware DE DAL $16,003,750 $7,432,250
Champ Bailey CB DEN $10,000,000 $10,000,000
Jacob Tamme TE DEN $3,500,000 $3,000,000 FootballGuys
Mikel Leshoure RB DET $1,092,693 $843,297 Dave Birkett
Matt Schaub QB HOU $14,125,000 $3,625,000 NFP
Danieal Manning S HOU $6,000,000 $4,500,000 John McClain
Samson Satele C IND $5,066,667 $4,000,000 N/A
Jason Babin DE JAC $6,175,000 $6,175,000 ESPN
Dimitri Patterson CB MIA $5,400,000 $5,400,000 ESPN
Jonathan Martin OT MIA $1,304,800 $345,066 ESPN
Letroy Guion DT MIN $4,300,000 $4,000,000 ESPN
Danny Amendola WR NE $4,575,000 $1,375,000 (6/1) Ben Volin
Isaac Sopoaga DT NE $3,500,000 $2,500,000 Ben Volin
Chris Snee G NYG $11,300,000 $6,800,000 ESPN
David Baas C NYG $8,225,000 $5,000,000 Dan Graziano
Antrel Rolle S NYG $9,250,000 $7,250,000
Mark Sanchez QB NYJ $13,100,000 $8,300,000 Seth Walder
Santonio Holmes WR NYJ $10,750,000 $8,250,000
Antonio Cromartie CB NYJ $14,980,000 $9,500,000 PFT
Terrelle Pryor QB OAK $912,654 $766,137 CSN
James Casey TE PHI $3,985,000 $3,985,000 Rotoworld
Arrelious Benn WR PHI $1,100,000 $1,000,000 Rotoworld
DeMeco Ryans LB PHI $6,900,000 $6,900,000 Jeff McLane
LaMarr Woodley LB PIT $13,590,000 $8,000,000 (6/1) SBNation
Ike Taylor CB PIT $11,942,401 $7,000,000 Post-Gazette
Levi Brown OT PIT $6,250,000 $6,250,000 PFT
Troy Polamalu S PIT $10,887,500 $8,250,000 PFT
LeRon McClain FB SD $3,333,333 $2,500,000 ESPN
Jeromey Clary OT SD $6,250,000 $4,550,000 ESPN
Sidney Rice WR SEA $9,700,000 $7,300,000 Ian Rapoport
Zach Miller TE SEA $7,000,000 $5,000,000 USA Today
Chris Clemons DE SEA $9,666,667 $7,500,000 Bob Condotta
Red Bryant DT SEA $8,500,000 $7,500,000 (6/1) USA Today
LaMichael James RB SF $905,154 $691,718 CSN
Jon Baldwin WR SF $1,404,765 $1,404,765 CSN
Carlos Rogers CB SF $8,094,531 $5,105,469 CSN
Scott Wells C STL $6,500,000 $4,500,000 ESPN
Sam Bradford QB STL $17,610,000 $13,660,000 (6/1)
Isaiah Pead RB STL $1,101,300 $412,900 ESPN
Cortland Finnegan CB STL $10,000,000 $7,000,000 ESPN
Harvey Dahl G STL $4,000,000 $4,000,000 STL Post
Ryan Fitzpatrick QB TEN $4,125,000 $3,250,000 Yahoo
Kamerion Wimbley DE TEN $7,800,000 $2,400,000 Paul Kuharskey
Chris Johnson RB TEN $10,000,000 $6,000,000
Stephen Bowen DT WAS $7,020,000 $1,980,000 CSN
Evan Royster RB WAS $671,918 $645,000 John Keim



Top 20 Cap Increases from 2013 to 2014

March 4th, 2014
USA TodayMike Wallace currently accounts for 11.4% of the Dolphins 2014 salary cap.

While NFL franchise continue to trim, poke, prod, restructure, and re-sign their roster during the short waiver period leading up to March 11th free agency season, we’ll revisit a look at the Top 20 NFL Cap Increases from 2013 to 2014. These are generally players who signed a maximum contract prior to the 2013 season, with minimal salary and cap in the first year, that comes full circle in year two or three by way of roster/option bonuses, or just a general spike in salary.

Notable Points

  • Five of the twenty players listed are quarterbacks shouldn’t surprise you, but having four wide receivers on this list might.
  • Mike Wallace’s $17.25M figure is 11.42% of the Dolphins current salary cap.
  • Carl Nicks has played only 9 games in the past two seasons in TB.
  • Charles Johnson + Greg Hardy hold a combined $29.5M, or 21.25% of the Panthers cap.


Top Cap Increases

Player Pos Team 2013 Cap 2014 Cap $ Chg % Chg
Mike Wallace WR MIA 3,250,000 17,250,000 14,000,000 431%
Jay Cutler QB CHI 10,370,000 22,500,000 12,130,000 117%
Ndamukong Suh DT DET 10,492,500 22,412,500 11,920,000 114%
Vincent Jackson WR TB 3,272,000 12,432,000 9,160,000 280%
Percy Harvin WR SEA 4,900,000 13,400,000 8,500,000 173%
Antonio Cromartie CB NYJ 6,520,000 14,980,000 8,460,000 130%
Carson Palmer QB ARI 4,000,000 12,000,000 8,000,000 200%
Joe Flacco QB BAL 6,800,000 14,800,000 8,000,000 118%
Dwayne Bowe WR KC 4,000,000 12,000,000 8,000,000 200%
DeMarcus Ware DE DAL 8,092,443 16,003,750 7,911,307 98%
Matt Ryan QB ATL 9,600,000 17,500,000 7,900,000 82%
Charles Johnson DE CAR 8,740,000 16,420,000 7,680,000 88%
Brandon Carr CB DAL 5,432,000 12,217,000 6,785,000 125%
Mario Williams DE BUF 12,400,000 18,800,000 6,400,000 52%
Chris Long DE STL 8,550,000 14,900,000 6,350,000 74%
Carl Nicks G TB 3,072,000 9,357,000 6,285,000 205%
D’Brickashaw Ferguson LT NYJ 5,588,665 11,698,665 6,110,000 109%
Ike Taylor CB PIT 5,882,401 11,942,404 6,060,003 103%
Lawrence Timmons ILB PIT 5,816,260 11,816,260 6,000,000 103%
Aaron Rodgers QB GB 12,000,000 17,900,000 5,900,000 49%


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Jairus Byrd vs. the Buffalo Bills

March 3rd, 2014

USATSI_5828454_160074578_lowresOften in sports it becomes easy to glaze over the “business” side of things, as entertainment rules our screens, stats & analytics take over our timelines, and generally speaking – the best players always seem to get the money they ask for.

The Buffalo Bills have, in theory, done everything they can to appease the Jairus Byrd and his agent in terms of finding common ground contractually for 2014.

A New Deal

It’s been clearly reported that the Bills have made at least one attempt this offseason to sign Byrd to a long-term deal.

The top average paid safety in football right now, Troy Polamalu, earns north of $9.8M per season with the Steelers, followed by Eric Berry ($8.34M), Dashon Goldson ($8.25M), and Eric Weddle ($8M). A recent forecast done by our premium valuation team shows that in terms of “value”, Jairus Byrd deserves around $9.1M per season.

Reports have come in that the Bills’ offer included a payout of $30 million over the contract’s first 3 seasons, or an average of $10M per season. Byrd’s reluctancy to accept an offer like this warrants two questions:

1. Does he believe he can garner more dollars on the open market? It’s likely this is possible, especially with teams such as the Browns and Eagles already appearing to have interest – both with plenty of cap space in 2014 to make a financial splash.

2. Is the 2013 offseason, where it became apparent that the Bills did NOT offer a long-term deal,  still leaving a bad taste in the mouths of Byrd and his camp? Seems awfully trite, especially with the current offer on the table.

3. Was the exit of defensive coordinator Mike Pettine the last straw for Byrd in terms of wanting to look elsewhere? Maybe, but in terms of the Bills it shouldn’t matter.

Other Bills’ Contracts

Furthermore, Byrd has seen plenty of defensive teammates pen new contracts around him in the past 2 seasons, notably DT Kyle Williams (4 years, $30M), and CB Leodis McKelvin (4 years $17M). While neither of these deals are breaking the bank, the Bills spent the majority of their dollars in signing key free agents to fill needs on the defensive side of the ball. In short, Byrd was playing out his 1 year tender in 2013 around plenty of players comfortably locked into long-term, fairly paid contracts.

The Franchise Tag

Regardless of what’s been summarized above, the Bills truly do have the final say here. The 2011 CBA , despite shock to many, kept the franchise tag tender intact, seemingly for cases exactly like the one the Bills and Byrd find themselves in. A 2014 franchise tag tender for Jairus Byrd will cost $8.334M, a figure the Bills can easily filter into their current cap table.

Byrd may not have been treated like most professional all-stars are in terms of instantly being handed money, with little argument, but he also won’t have the final say in this matter. Jairus was a great player in organization that continually changed hands in both the front office, the coaching staff, and the major roster positions around him.

But the bottom line here is simple. If the Bills think letting Jairus Byrd reach free agency means they’ll lose him – then the franchise tag assignment is the ONLY possible answer. Byrd’s proven to be a top-production safety in this league, and while that isn’t a high priority position for some organizations, it’s been a difference-maker for the Bills in the past 2-3 seasons.

The business side of this negotiation leaves Buffalo no choice but to assign the tag by 4pm today – if nothing more than to at least play a card. The two sides will still until July 15th to work out a long-term deal – or find a suitable trade partner. The name of the game here is team control, and in terms of the CBA, and the use of the franchise tag, the Buffalo Bills are within their rights to hold onto Jairus Byrd for as long as they can afford to.

While this may not be fair to the players in some instances, its simply the lay of the land. And in terms of teams being able to hold onto their players at a calculated price, this is only the beginning.

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