The Rising Value of Cornerbacks

July 31st, 2014 by Michael Ginnitti

The “self-promoted” announcement of Patrick Peterson’s 5 year $70 million extension not only makes him the highest paid cornerback in football, but it further establishes the recent trend of increasing dollars being award to players in the secondary. We’ll take a look at the last three major contracts signed among NFL cornerbacks, breaking down the numbers to assess the trend.
 
Since the first of the year, 5 cornerbacks have signed extensions with their respective teams for a total of $220.3M dollars. These extensions average just north of 4 years a piece, meaning the average veteran cornerback is receiving a contract extension of 4 years, $55 million in 2014. The 48 cornerbacks who signed via free agency this offseason averaged an annual salary of $3.6 million, a total of $277.14 million in contracts. All in all we’re talking about $447.4M in contracts doled out to 53 veteran cornerbacks this offseason, or nearly $8.5M per player.
 
These figures are up considerably from the 2013 offseason, where just 2 extensions were signed for a total of $20M, and 49 free agent cornerbacks signed for $229M – an average annual salary of just $2.84M.
 
We’ll take a closer look at some of the bigger cornerback extensions recently signed:
 

Patrick Peterson | ARZ | 5 year, $70.05M extension

Peterson’s deal contains just enough to make him the highest average paid cornerback in league at $14.001M per year. The reported $48 million guaranteed is somewhat jaded, as the deal contains rolling guarantees (similar to Colin Kaepernick’s recent extension with the 49ers). In a recent projection, Peterson valued out mathematically at around $10.5M per season when comparing him to the other top cornerbacks in the league.

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USA TodayPeterson now becomes the highest average paid cornerback in the NFL.

Originally set to earn $2.88M in 2014 cash, with a $5.8 million cap hit, Peterson will now cash in $16.25 million in 2014, and another $11.7 million in 2015.
 
His 2014 cap raises slightly to $6.9M, then increases rapidly to figures of $14.79, $13, $13, $14.3, and $11.25 in the following seasons.
 

Guaranteed Money
The deal contains $16.25M in initial guaranteed money, his $15.361M signing bonus + his $888k 2014 salary. Each of Peterson’s 2015-2017 base salaries initially guarantee for injury only. They become fully guaranteed on the 5th day of their subsquent league waiver period. This gives Arizona a bit of an out after this season, though the large signing bonus makes for significant dead cap until the 2017 season.
 

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Richard Sherman | SEA | 4 year, $56M extension

Prior to Peterson’s signing, Richard Sherman was the highest average paid CB in the NFL at $14M per season. His deal contains $40 million in practical guarantees, but structured similar to Peterson in that the Peterson’s deal in that the 2015-17 base salaries don’t guarantee until 5 days after the previous Super Bowl.

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USA TodayRichard Sherman’s $14M per season now ranks behind Peterson.

Originally set to earn $1.431M in 2014 cash, with a $1.476 million cap hit, Sherman will now cash in $12.431 million in 2014, and another $10 million in 2015. His 2014 cap raises slightly to $3.6M, then increases rapidly to figures of $12.2, $14.7 $13.6, & $13.2 in the following seasons.
 

Guaranteed Money
The deal contains $12.431 million in initial guarantees, his $11 million signing bonus and $1.431 million 2014 salary. Sherman’s 2015 $10 million salary becomes fully guaranteed 5 days after this year’s Super Bowl. His $12.569 million 2016 salary + $5 million of his $11.431 million 2017 salary fully guarantee 5 days after next year’s Super Bowl. Like Peterson, the contract contains significant dead cap through the 2017 season, making Sherman fairly safe for another 4 years in Seattle.
 

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Joe Haden | CLE | 5 year, $67.5M extension

Haden’s deal in Cleveland is structured a little bit different than the recent contracts to Sherman and Peterson in that the 2014 salary needed to be much higher in value. His $6.678M base salary is the same figure he was scheduled to make from his rookie contract. As a 2010 draft pick, Haden was not subjected to the rookie wage scale, so his first contract with the Browns was to the likes of 5 years $40 million

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USA TodayHaden will earn $22.8M in cash in 2014 with the Browns.

The higher initial payment comes with a $12.1M cap hit for 2014 (2nd most among CBs), but just $11.6M in 2015. The caps jump to $13.4, $14.4, $14.4, and then down to $10.5M in the following seasons. He’ll earn a whopping $22.87M in 2014 cash, nearly double what Sherman receives.
 

Guaranteed Money
The deal contains $22.6 million in initial guarantees, his $16 million signing bonus and $6.67 million 2014 salary. Hadens $8.3M 2015 salary becomes fully guaranteed prior to the start of next year, as does his $10.1M 2016 salary prior to that season. There are reports that $4 million of his 2017 salary also becomes fully guaranteed prior to the 2016 season, but we’ve yet to confirm that. While Peterson and Sherman are fairly safe through the 2017 season in their contracts, Haden could be traded or released following the 2016 with just a $6.4M dead cap hit to the Browns.
 

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Related:
» Top Average Paid Cornerbacks of 2014
 

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2 Responses to “The Rising Value of Cornerbacks”

  1. Andrew says:

    Not just cornerback but all positions should see an increase in salary for veterans. With the new rookie wage pay scale, they are not making 70 million without playing a game. That money is going to be shifted to pay veterans.

  2. kse214 says:

    Is anyone else amazed at the lack of money Grimes got compared to Revis, Haden, Sherman, and Ptereson? I get that Grimes is a bit older but he’s right there with these guys for at least the next 3 years. Was one of the most underrated players last year.

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