Cardinals Sign QB Carson Palmer to 3 Year Extension

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Arizona has locked up their starting QB Carson Palmer for another three years according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen

While Mort didn’t give any contract details outside a range of annual values, it sounds as if Palmer will make $20.5 million in new money between now and 2015 and max out at $16.6 million a year.

Palmer is one of the more interesting quarterback. Palmer retired a few years ago when he wanted out from the Bengals who were making it known they felt they could go as far as they could with the former number 1 overall pick.  Palmer ended up being traded to Oakland where he was eventually asked to take a paycut from what was an already relatively modest salary. He refused and Oakland decided to trade Palmer to Arizona and instead go with Matt Flynn and later Matt Schaub as veteran replacements, two pretty bad decisions. Palmer has had two efficient years with the Cardinals and it was a given that they would need him to QB what is win-now contending type team for the forseeable future. Palmer had never been able to get over the playoff hump and may have the best chance of his career in 2014 to do so.

Palmer was likely able to leverage the teams strong record and the lack of good quarterbacks around the NFL into this contract. Palmer is certainly on the older end of the age scale and never had those Peyton or Brady-esque seasons that would limit those age concerns. Palmer did miss a few games earlier this season.

If the $20.5 million is his true new money number that would place him about $3 million less than Alex Smith in his most recent contract extension. The 3 year value should be just below what Smith makes over the comparable time period. This extension should push him beyond the three year value held by Andy Dalton who replaced him as Bengals starter in 2011.

Given the Cardinals current salary cap space I’d say a reasonable signing bonus for Palmer would be $10 million.  At that figure they can walk away from him in 2016 in the event the window closes and they want to get younger on offense. I would not be surprised if most of the guarantee was protected for injury only in the event the wheels fell off this year or Palmer was injured again and missed significant time.

The price sounds like a pretty reasonable one for Palmer who is a known commodity. Had Palmer been three years younger he would likely earn in the $19 million a year range as he is a superior player to Jay Cutler.  As long as he can maintain his levels of play he is a bargain compared to others in the same salary range.

I would think the next move for Arizona is to work with Larry Fitzgerald on a reasonable new contract. Fitzgerald has a monster cap hit and salary next season which is not really in line with his production. My estimates for Arizona, which already included a $10 million salary for Palmer, in 2015 had them with one of the five tightest cap situations in the NFL. Fitzgerald is really the key for them getting the books in order to improve further in 2015.

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Rams Restructure Contract of Jared Cook for Cap Relief

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I had speculated the other day that the Rams needed to restructure a contract in order to execute the trade for safety Mark Barron and as it turns out the Rams did just that. According to Brian McIntyre, the Rams tweaked the contract of tight end Jared Cook this time around to comply with salary cap restrictions.

In the restructure it seems that the Rams reduced Cook’s P5 from $3 million to the minimum of $730,000 and converted the balance to a signing bonus. The Rams gained $901,323 in cap space with the restructure. Cooks salary cap charge will now rise by $300,441 over the next three seasons. I believe Cook had incentives in his contract which I am assuming were removed as those would have counted against the cap following the restructure.

The Rams, probably more than any other team in the NFL, ride the cap as close as possible to their salary cap limit. This leads to the need for potential in-season restructures if a big move comes along, like the trade, or if injuries force them to sign additional players. The Rams have been decimated by injuries the last two seasons so they have had a handful of restructured deals leading into and during the season.

It’s a bit of a different approach than most teams in the NFL. Usually teams that ride this close to the salary cap do so because they have very little choice based on how they have managed their roster and the costs associated with cutting certain players. The Rams operate this way by choice, maintaining flexibility in future years to pick and choose the contracts to restructure, in part based on current performance rather than trying to project that performance at an earlier date.

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Jets Extend WR Jeremy Kerley for 4 Years, $16 Million

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According to multiple outlets the Jets and wide receiver Jeremy Kerley have agreed to a four year contract extension worth $16 million with $5.4 million of the contract guaranteed.

The reported numbers put Kerley right below recent contracts signed by Julian Edelman ($4.25M per year) and Doug Baldwin ($4.33M). The total dollar figure and guarantee seem to indicate a contract very similar to the one signed by Andre Roberts with the Washington Redskins at $16 million with a $5.25 million guarantee.

I would assume Kerley’s $5.4 million guarantee is a true guarantee and not a combination of full and injury only guarantees based on the other contracts. Kerley’s salary this season was $1.431 million following his earning of the Proven Performance Escalator, and if I had to venture a guess would imagine is now guaranteed. That would leave a signing bonus in the region of $4-$4.6 million depending on how much, if any is guaranteed, in 2015.  Regardless the cap hits on the contract should be very reasonable for the Jets.

Kerley is one of the few bright spots in recent years on the Jets. He developed nicely since being drafted in 2011 into the best receiver on the team and I believe would have put up very strong numbers on a better offense. Following the trade  for Percy Harvin I had assumed that it would have meant the end for Kerley in Jet green, but the front office must believe the two can complement each other in the office.

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Chris Long Restructures Contract with Rams

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I have said for some time that star defensive end Chris Long is the “go to guy” for the Rams front office when it comes to salary cap relief and the two sides once again came to an agreement to help the Rams become cap compliant for the 2014 League Year.

Long converted $3 million of his guaranteed base salary into a signing bonus that will be prorated over the remainig three years of the contract. This creates an additional $2 million in cap room for St. Louis in 2014.

As part of the restructure the Rams agreed to move $1 million of Long’s 2015 base salary into a roster bonus that will be paid on the 3rd day of the League Year. Long is one of the top defensive ends in the NFL so it is hard to imagine him being released, but this slight tweak is a way to ensure a quick decision on his future. Long now has $3 million in March roster bonuses coming his way next offseason while also improving the timing of his cash next year.

The Rams salary cap situation is still tight so I would not be surprised if they have to go back to Long for more cap relief during the season either to help extend Robert Quinn or to deal with another injury that eats away their cap space.

View Chris Long’s Salary Cap and Contract Page

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Austin Pettis Reworks Contract with Rams

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I know I had read some things recently about the St. Louis Rams potentially parting ways with 2011 3rd round draft pick Austin Pettis, but it would now seem as if his roster spot is safe moving forward.

Per a source, Pettis agreed to a $481,000 pay cut, reducing his base salary from $1.431 million to $700,000 and also receiving a $250,000 signing bonus. This is a common type of contract negotiation that occurs in the late summer where a borderline player is essentially offered a guarantee in return for taking a pay cut. Pettis will still be a free agent after the season.

The Rams have likely reworked at least one other contract in order to comply with the salary cap. As soon as we know which that is we will get it out there and update their cap tables accordingly.

View Austin Pettis Salary Cap and Contract Page

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49ers Rework Ray McDonalds Contract for Salary Cap Relief

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Word came out latelast week that the San Francisco 49ers reworked the contract of DE Ray McDonald for salary cap relief and today we have the details.

The 49ers reduced McDonald’s base salary to the minimum salary and converted the difference, $2.645 million, to a prorated bonus. The move creates $2,116,000 in salary cap space for the 49ers, who are carrying a large number of players on reserve lists this season.

McDonald already had one voidable contract year in his current contract and to maximize the salary cap relief they added an additional two void years to the contract. This marks the second such contract this year in which the 49ers added a significant number of void years in order to function with the salary cap in 2014. San Francisco is attempting to keep what is arguably the deepest roster in the NFL intact and is basically walking a tightrope with the cap at this stage in trying to do so.

McDonald’s dead money in 2015 is now $4.6 rather than $2.5 million and in 2016, when his contract voids, his dead money charge jumped from $746K to $2.3 million.

McDonald, literally hours after signing this deal, was arrested on domestic violence charges. If suspended 6 games for his actions the 49ers should only be able to recover 6/17ths of his bonus proration for the year rather than the full amount. The remainder of the money should be protected from forfeiture.

View Ray McDonals Contract and Salary Cap Page

Lions Restructure Contract of Safety Glover Quin

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The Detroit Lions are one of the teams that I discussed being in desperate need for cap room, so it should come as no surprise that they have reworked the contract of one of their players for salary cap relief.

Safety Glover Quin converted $2.77 million of his base salary into a signing bonus that will be spread out over the remaining years of his contract. The move created about $2.08 million in much needed cap room for Detroit, who should have in the ballpark of $3.6 million in cap space for the start of the NFL season, which is still tight but reasonable.

The move will add salary cap charges of $692,500 to each remaining year of Quin’s contract. This restructure should effectively guarantee his roter status next season as his ead cap charge rises from $3.15 to $5.23 million, leaving the June 1 cut as the only realistic option if they needed to release him.

View Glover Quin’s Contract and Salary Cap Page