A Closer Look at Corey Liuget’s $51.25 Million Contract

The details of Corey Liuget’s recent contract extension were released today in many news outlets and we now have a better idea about his contract. The total new money vaue of the contract is $51.25 million, which is actually higher than the initial reports. The contract has $13.977 in fully guaranteed salary and a total of $30.477 million in injury guarantees. Based on contract structure he has a functional guarantee of $22.477 million, which will all be paid out by 2016. In terms of new money guarantees Liuget is receiving an extra $8.5 million in full guarantees and $17 million in functional ones. His $5.477 million salary had already been guaranteed prior to the extension. 

Liuget is the second of the 34 defensive ends to earn a new contract this offseason following Cam Jordan’s big extension with the Saints. These are the contracts shaping the market for the position. Liuget was considered less accomplished than Jordan and certainly nowhere near the pass rusher Jordan is. That seems to have been properly reflected in the contract. Here is the year by year breakdown for Jordan, Liuget, and Calais Campbell who remains at the top of the market for players not named Watt.

PlayerYear 0Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4Year 5
CampbellNA$17,000,000$30,250,000$36,000,000$45,250,000$55,000,000
Jordan$10,000,000$19,600,000$26,700,000$36,000,000$45,100,000$55,000,000
Liuget$8,500,000$17,000,000$25,000,000$33,000,000$41,750,000$51,250,000

Liuget will trail Jordan by 13% in earnings over the first extension year of the contract. He can get that down to about 6.5% if he makes the 2017 season, which is not guaranteed by any stretch. At that point in time it will cost just $4.5 million against the cap for the Chargers to release Liuget from his contract, a savings of $5 million. By comparison Jordan will cost the team $9.6 million against the cap if cut, a meager $700,000 in savings.

The main difference is due to the signing bonus included in the contract. The Chargers wisely avoided a massive bonus by limiting the bonus to $7.5 million and simply paying the rest of his salary in cash that will count immediately on the cap. Jordan received a $16 million bonus to sign, one of the largest non-QB signing bonuses in the NFL.

So realistically Liuget is being viewed as worth 13% less than Jordan with the ability to get closer if he performs well enough to not be released. As more contracts come in at this position Bryce can give us the official ECV breakdown, but this contract is certainly not going to match the current big ones, even if the annual value may look somewhat similar.

Where this leaves the other player’s looking for a new deal I can’t say for certain, but $17 million in first year new money looks to be the new floor as Liuget does match Campbell in this metric. But to reach the Cambell numbers is going to require teams to really front load the contract and use massive bonuses over the first two years to achieve the functional protections realized by Campbell and Jordan. Exceeding those numbers entirely is going to take some hard work.

  • theowl

    Jason,

    One thing that didn’t escape me from your last podcast, or was it one of the Jordan articles, was trusting Pro Football Focus’ stat collection and not not their play evaluation ratings. This was in comparing Wilkerson to Jordan. With the ratings Wilkerson was consistently above average as a pass rusher, but the stats dropped him lower. Where as with Jordan’s ratings, he had one monster year as a pass rusher in 2013. His pass rush rating the other years were well below average, but his overall stats were good… possibly due to his monster year? You don’t trust the ratings?

    • I dont think its so much not trusting the ratings, but from a salary standpoint I dont see any correlation and Ive run those a lot on pending free agents or recent contract signings. Jordans statistical output is superior and usually in the NFL you pay for the reward factor. Whatever drags him down to be a -7 is really going to have no bearing on a deal unless its so egregious that he is a massive liability where he is the cause of the completed pass over and over.

      I think they are good screening tools to find players you may have missed or to pick out areas to focus on in a negotiation that might not have originally existed. My bigger issue with the rankings is the lack of weighting in their rankings. For example if a 34DE goes in coverage about 1% of all snaps why in the world would you give that the same importance as rushing tha passer which is done around 55% of the time? By the same token I dont think it paints the right picture when a player grades neutral in some category but barely plays it. Odds are if they played a lot they would be overwhelmingly negative and the small sample distorts the actual true worth of the player.

      Its not their fault that numbers are reported that way and I think their writings often give more context but I wouldnt use it as anything more than a slight part in a player evaluation until I started to see more big deals coming or not coming based solely on the ratings they have for players.