Over the Cap http://overthecap.com NFL Salary Cap, Player Contracts, and Related News and Analysis Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:44:53 +0000 en-US hourly 1 http://wordpress.org/?v=3.9 Free Agency Thoughts: Baltimore Ravenshttp://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-baltimore-ravens/ http://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-baltimore-ravens/#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 14:44:53 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=7293

Key Additions: Steve Smith ($3.5M per year), Jeremy Zuttah ($3M), Darian Stewart ($1.3M), Owen Daniels ($1M)

Key Re-Signings: Eugene Monroe ($7.5M per year), Daryl Smith ($3.4M), Jacoby Jones ($3M)

Key Losses: Art Jones (Colts),Michael Oher (Titans), Corey Graham (Bills), James Ihedigbo (Lions),

Major Cuts: Vonta Leach ($1.8M cap savings)

Free Agency Thoughts:

The Ravens had their usual offseason with some key re-signings and bringing in new faces that were somewhat on the outskirts of free agency. The big move was keeping LT Eugene Monroe, which was a necessity. While his guarantee compares favorably with that of Will Beatty and … Read the rest

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Key Additions: Steve Smith ($3.5M per year), Jeremy Zuttah ($3M), Darian Stewart ($1.3M), Owen Daniels ($1M)

Key Re-Signings: Eugene Monroe ($7.5M per year), Daryl Smith ($3.4M), Jacoby Jones ($3M)

Key Losses: Art Jones (Colts),Michael Oher (Titans), Corey Graham (Bills), James Ihedigbo (Lions),

Major Cuts: Vonta Leach ($1.8M cap savings)

Free Agency Thoughts:

The Ravens had their usual offseason with some key re-signings and bringing in new faces that were somewhat on the outskirts of free agency. The big move was keeping LT Eugene Monroe, which was a necessity. While his guarantee compares favorably with that of Will Beatty and Sam Baker, who both signed last season, I felt it pushed a little high for the Ravens especially in light of giving him a large signing bonus. That said losing him would have been a disaster.

The signing of Steve Smith, released by the Panthers, should help improve the Ravens offense. As long as Smith accepts the role of number two they can get good value for the price. Smith has performed at a better level than his salary but his earning potential is compromised by his age.  The Ravens need for a wide receiver at a lower cost made him a perfect fit.

Re-signing Daryl Smith was also a given. He played an important role for the defense last season and the contract is certainly nothing that is going to significantly hurt the team in the future. Linebackers can be effective in many ways for a long time and if you can get a good price on one they are rarely contracts that will be regretted later on.

The acquisition of Jeremy Zuttah and signing of Owen Daniels could both be good moves for the team. I especially like the Daniels signing. Daniels is always an injury risk, but a very capable player when healthy.  Both should improve the offense.

Arthur Jones was the biggest loss on defense but they have the personnel to absorb that loss better than they would have losing Monroe. Once the Colts get involved on a player it will be difficult for a team with cap constraints to match. Michael Oher’s time was done in Baltimore and he received a very generous contract from the Tennessee Titans. The biggest loss might be James Ihedigbo who did not sign a big contract in Detroit. The Ravens got the one year deal that perhaps they wanted with Darian Stewart rather than a two year deal Ihedigbo was seeking, but I thought Ihedigbo was a solid player for the team.
Overall Grade: B-

The Ravens are rarely going to hit a home run in free agency because their strategy is to almost exclusively avoid unrestricted free agents and to let players go if they deem the anticipated draft compensation enough. Given their self imposed constraints they did well for themselves in helping to improve the offense and give QB Joe Flacco as much help as possible to live up to the lofty contract he signed in 2013. I do think the Ravens rely a little too much on the signing bonus, but that is the way they have done business for years and been relatively successful with it. With the cap issues they have I am not sure if there was another way to do things anyway. The bottom line is they kept who they needed to keep and got slightly better at a few spots with some upside to be much better if they all work out.


 

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Free Agency Thoughts: St. Louis Ramshttp://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-st-louis-rams/ http://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-st-louis-rams/#comments Wed, 23 Apr 2014 01:12:23 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=7291

St. Louis Rams

Key Additions: Shaun Hill ($1.8M per year), Alex Carrington ($1.5M), Kenny Britt ($1.4M)

Key Re-Signings: Rodger Saffold ($6.3M per year), Jo-Lonn Dunbar ($1M)

Key Losses: Chris Williams (Bills),Shelley Smith (Dolphins),Kellen Clemens (Chargers)

Major Cuts: Cortland Finnegan ($4M cap savings), Harvey Dahl ($4M)

Free Agency Thoughts:

A relatively quiet offseason for the Rams who likely would have been even less active has the Raiders not backed out of the Rodger Saffold contract due to him failing their team physical. Wisely the Rams quickly pounced on Saffold keeping what could be an important part of the team. With … Read the rest

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St. Louis Rams

Key Additions: Shaun Hill ($1.8M per year), Alex Carrington ($1.5M), Kenny Britt ($1.4M)

Key Re-Signings: Rodger Saffold ($6.3M per year), Jo-Lonn Dunbar ($1M)

Key Losses: Chris Williams (Bills),Shelley Smith (Dolphins),Kellen Clemens (Chargers)

Major Cuts: Cortland Finnegan ($4M cap savings), Harvey Dahl ($4M)

Free Agency Thoughts:

A relatively quiet offseason for the Rams who likely would have been even less active has the Raiders not backed out of the Rodger Saffold contract due to him failing their team physical. Wisely the Rams quickly pounced on Saffold keeping what could be an important part of the team. With the injury history of Jake Long, Saffold is very important to the Rams success since he can swing over from guard to play tackle. The Saffold contract I think shows a better structure than some of the more recent deals they signed with a full series of vesting guarantees rather than deals where all guarantees are earned after the first year.   There are also incentives and void clauses that will reward him for exceptional play, which I think helps the Rams maintain a good relationship with potential free agents in the future while dangling a carrot designed to increase the level of play.

Kenny Britt could be a good pick up for a team with limited offensive talent. He only has a bit over $500,000 guaranteed if he completely busts with most of it in the form of a salary guarantee. That is smart because if he is cut they may get another team to eat some of the cost. I think they went slightly overboard on incentives, but if he can play well that won’t be a worry.

The other contracts are all low risk, low cost deals. Would they have been better off not bringing back Jo-Lonn Dunbar and attempting to keep Shelley Smith?  Maybe, but that’s a very minor complaint. Shaun Hill should be a better fit at backup than Kellen Clemens if you are looking for someone to potentially mentor a young QB.

The timing of the Cortland Finnegan release was smart. By not waiting until the last minute they have teams more than enough time to dig up old tape and convince themselves that he could still play. The Rams owed him $3 million and this helped them earn a salary offset. That credit should come in 2015.

Overall Grade: C+

This was a smart offseason plan by the Rams. Of the four teams in the NFC West they are the team that would benefit the least from a big run in free agency, which they may have been able to accomplish by reworking a number of contracts which wisely they did not.  The Rams have multiple draft picks, including two in the top 15. They should gain starters in the draft while also having the depth of picks to replace some of the players lost on the offensive line. It is the draft that will get them on equal footing with the other teams and they built their offseason around that.


 

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Workout Bonuseshttp://overthecap.com/workout-bonuses/ http://overthecap.com/workout-bonuses/#comments Tue, 22 Apr 2014 18:40:14 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=7288 With NFL offseason programs beginning there seems to be a lot of talk about workout bonuses, so I thought it was worth putting up a post on the subject.

Many teams use offseason workout bonuses to entice participation in “voluntary” workouts at the team facility during April and May. The bonuses are usually earned by participating in a percentage of workouts. For example a player whose bonus is tied to 90% workout participation would need to attend 33 workouts if the team used the maximum 36 possible workout days to earn his bonus. Every player in the NFL will earn … Read the rest

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With NFL offseason programs beginning there seems to be a lot of talk about workout bonuses, so I thought it was worth putting up a post on the subject.

Many teams use offseason workout bonuses to entice participation in “voluntary” workouts at the team facility during April and May. The bonuses are usually earned by participating in a percentage of workouts. For example a player whose bonus is tied to 90% workout participation would need to attend 33 workouts if the team used the maximum 36 possible workout days to earn his bonus. Every player in the NFL will earn $175 per day for workout participation and in some cases this is in addition to the contracted bonus.

Workout bonuses are a more player friendly contract term since they are earned in the spring and are not subject to forfeiture provisions the way other bonuses are. Its also protected in the event a player is released which is not the case for your base salary.

Our estimated peg the potential league-wide workout earnings to be $40,667,000 in contracted workout bonuses. Some teams believe strongly in workout bonuses. Those teams are the Packers, Bengals, Bills, Raiders, Chiefs, and 49ers. The workout bonuses paid by those six teams make up over $18.5 million of the total workout figure. On the opposite end of the spectrum are the Texans, Falcons, Broncos, Ravens, and Steelers who have no workout bonuses in their player contracts.

In addition to the money listed above there are also other important contractual terms that hinge on workout participation. The Cowboys and Redskins both have low workout bonus totals but many of their players will lose base salary if they fail to participate in the offseason program. For example Tony Romo’s salary will de-escalate by $500,000 if he fails to attend. So these teams essentially have workout bonuses in their contract they have just made the bonus much more team friendly rather than player friendly.

In some cases players have escalators in their contracts that hinge on participation in the offseason programs. Who can forget last year when 49ers cornerback Tarell Brown lost a $2 million escalator when his agent failed to advise him that his escalator would void if he failed to attend workouts. His case was extreme because his salary was already accrued but other players can void the opportunity to ever earn such raises by failing to attend workouts. Players should be in contact with their agents if they are considering missing the program.

The largest workout bonus belong to the Jets D’Brickashaw Ferguson at $750,000. Jets Center Nick Mangold has a $500,000 bonus, which is tied for second highest in the NFL. Former Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum was a big believer in workout bonuses and these are two of the bigger contracts he signed during his tenure. John Idzik is not as big a believer and has minimized those expenditures. Other players with $500,000 workout bonuses are Patrick Willis, Sam Shields, Eli Manning, Clay Matthews, Mario Williams, Aaron Rodgers, and DeSean Jackson.  Frank Gore and Donald Penn can earn $400,000.

Here are our team estimates for workout bonuses in 2013

TeamWorkout Bonus
Estimate
Packers$4,325,000
Bengals$3,205,000
Bills$2,960,000
Raiders$2,879,000
Chiefs$2,800,500
49ers$2,695,000
Cardinals$2,085,000
Giants$1,992,500
Jets$1,802,500
Vikings$1,795,000
Panthers$1,765,000
Bears$1,705,000
Redskins$1,570,000
Patriots$1,495,500
Saints$1,357,500
Titans$985,000
Browns$910,000
Eagles$890,000
Jaguars$822,000
Dolphins$695,000
Buccaneers$525,000
Seahawks$500,000
Cowboys$365,000
Lions$235,000
Chargers$167,500
Rams$100,000
Colts$30,000
Broncos$0
Ravens$0
Steelers$0
Texans$0
Falcons$0


 

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Free Agency Thoughts: Seattle Seahawkshttp://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-seattle-seahawks/ http://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-seattle-seahawks/#comments Sun, 20 Apr 2014 15:45:46 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=7280

Key Additions: None

Key Re-Signings: Michael Bennett ($7.1M per year), Tony McDaniel ($2.9M), Steven Hauschka  ($2.9M), Anthony McCoy ($1.4M), Jeron Johnson ($1.4M), Tarvaris Jackson ($1.3M)

Key Losses: Golden Tate (Lions), Brandon Browner (Patriots), Breno Giacomini (Jets), Walter Thurmond (Giants), Paul McQuistan (Browns), Chris Maragos (Eagles)

Major Cuts: Chris Clemons ($7.5M cap savings), Sidney Rice ($7.3M), Red Bryant ($5.5M)

Free Agency Thoughts:

The Seahawks really did not go outside the organization this year to bring in anyone of note and instead faced the tough decisions about who to retain from their Super Bowl roster. The biggest decision came quickly when … Read the rest

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Key Additions: None

Key Re-Signings: Michael Bennett ($7.1M per year), Tony McDaniel ($2.9M), Steven Hauschka  ($2.9M), Anthony McCoy ($1.4M), Jeron Johnson ($1.4M), Tarvaris Jackson ($1.3M)

Key Losses: Golden Tate (Lions), Brandon Browner (Patriots), Breno Giacomini (Jets), Walter Thurmond (Giants), Paul McQuistan (Browns), Chris Maragos (Eagles)

Major Cuts: Chris Clemons ($7.5M cap savings), Sidney Rice ($7.3M), Red Bryant ($5.5M)

Free Agency Thoughts:

The Seahawks really did not go outside the organization this year to bring in anyone of note and instead faced the tough decisions about who to retain from their Super Bowl roster. The biggest decision came quickly when the Seahawks re-signed DE Michael Bennett to what will likely play out as a two year, $16 million deal. Bennett was incredibly important to the championship and would have been the most difficult player to replace either through the draft or via free agency. He was the one free agent they needed to bring back.

There are many that seemed down on the loss of Golden Tate, but if Percy Harvin is healthy they would have been overpaying significantly for Tate. Tate signed a contract worth over $6 million a season with the Lions and with Harvin already being a premier paid talent the Seahawks could not afford to add a top salaried second target to the mix. It would have been a waste of resources. Keeping Doug Baldwin on a RFA tag was a much more cost efficient move.

I think the more questionable move was not retaining Breno Giacomini, though Giacomini did miss time last year with a knee injury. Giacomini was not a top line contract player that would significantly impact the bottom line, but they may feel that between the draft and Michael Bowie they can get lower cost value.

From there the team opted to main lower cost depth in Tony McDaniel, Anthony McCoy, and Steven Hauschka at positions of weakness/need rather than the players in the secondary. Both Walter Thurmond and Brandon Browner could be valuable pieces in the secondary, but with big money expected to be invested in starters either this year or next, they were expendable.

Overall Grade: C+

Much like their rivals, the 49ers, little was going to be expected of the Seahawks this offseason. Every move they make has to be with a forward eye on 2015 rather than a strict focus on 2014. While that can be alarming the fact is they have major contract extensions soon coming due for Richard Sherman, Russell Wilson, Earl Thomas, and Russell Okung. Those players need to be replaced with low cost draft picks in the future and the Seahawks will likely optimize their compensatory selections next season.

Most importantly the team did not touch the contracts of Harvin, Marshawn Lynch, or even Cliff Avril for cap relief. They made the tough decisions to release Red Bryant and Chris Clemons while getting better terms on Zach Miller and eventually Sidney Rice. By not overspending this year and pushing more money into next season Seattle should have one of the top 7 cap situations in 2015. That gives them the money, starting now, to lock up the important pieces for the future and potentially replenish their low cost production in the 2014 and 2015 drafts, which is what drives their grade.


 

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Rookie Option Updateshttp://overthecap.com/rookie-option-updates/ http://overthecap.com/rookie-option-updates/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 15:35:58 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=7276

We learned last night that the first set of rookie options from the 2011 draft class were starting to be picked up, so I thought it might be useful for us to have a running list of the players who are having their contracts extended by one season. The rookie option year is a new rule in the CBA that allows teams to extend the term of a first round draft choice by one season by exercising an option between the end of the players third season and May 3 of the following League Year.

The cost of the option … Read the rest

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We learned last night that the first set of rookie options from the 2011 draft class were starting to be picked up, so I thought it might be useful for us to have a running list of the players who are having their contracts extended by one season. The rookie option year is a new rule in the CBA that allows teams to extend the term of a first round draft choice by one season by exercising an option between the end of the players third season and May 3 of the following League Year.

The cost of the option year is dependent upon where a player was drafted and what position he plays. If the player was drafted in the top 10 picks of the draft his one year contract will equal the transition tender for the NFL in 2013. If the player is selected outside of the top 10 then his one year contract is calculated the same way that the transition tag is calculated except the 3rd through 25th highest salaries are used rather than the top 10 highest. All offensive linemen and all linebackers are each grouped as one position and are not specialized (i.e a tackle is paid same as a center or a inside linebacker is paid same as a 34 outside linebacker).

Once the option is exercised the salary is guaranteed for injury only. So if a player is injured in 2014 and unable to pass his physical the following season his entire option salary is protected. However the player can be released at any time up to the start of the 2015 League Year without penalty if he is healthy enough to play football. If the player is on the roster on the first day of the 2015 League Year (first day of free agency) the salary becomes fully guaranteed for all terminations.

There is nothing that prohibits a team from negotiating another contract with the player following the option pickup. In most cases teams will pick the option up to protect their negotiating rights with the player, which is an indication of how little teams really think of injury guarantees. If the option was fully guaranteed there would be a much different approach taken by teams. If teams do not exercise the option they can still use the Franchise or Transition tag the following season, but in most cases that will be more expensive.

What could be interesting is if teams internally calculate out the Transition tag number in 2015 using the 2010 through 2014 cap figures currently available to see if there is a potential decline in the value next year. Being that the salary cap is now rising that would be near impossible, but if a team like the Cardinals estimated that the cost for a cornerback in 2015 could be $9.5 million they may opt to just use the Transition tag in 2015 on Patrick Peterson rather than locking him up at slightly over $10 million now. This would not be applicable to players selected outside the top 10 and would also eliminate a team from using the tag on another veteran player on the team.

My own opinion on the tag is that, while there is no downside to using it, if you have a player you like but not at the option value it is better to try to work out a reasonable extension without having that factored into the equation. Once you lock a player in at say $6 or $7 million it becomes much harder to work out a long term contract valued at $4 or $5. We have seen that often enough with the Franchise tag impeding progress on a long term deal and that can be a detriment to both sides.

Contrary to popular opinion most of the players who will have the option picked up will earn more in their 5th year and have a higher 5th year cap charge than the rookies that were drafted in the old CBA system. So they will have some leverage to negotiate favorable terms if they are a good player. This is not the case for the top 6 or 7 picks who will earn less and have less leverage than their 2010 counterparts. So the option is not a block to a player friendly extension in almost all cases.

While I do not have the numbers for all the players the following chart gives a breakdown of the tag values we do know and the players who are eligible for the option. As more options are picked up I’ll update the table.

Option Year 2014

 


 

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Free Agency Thoughts: San Francisco 49ershttp://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-san-francisco-49ers/ http://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-san-francisco-49ers/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 01:33:31 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=7274

Key Additions: Antoine Bethea ($5.3M per year), Blaine Gabbert ($2M), Brandon Lloyd ($1M)

Key Re-Signings: Anquan Boldin ($6M per year), Phil Dawson ($3.1M)

Key Losses: Donte Whitner (Browns), Tarell Brown (Raiders), Anthony Dixon (Bills)

Major Cuts: Carlos Rogers ($5.1M cap savings- June 1)

Free Agency Thoughts:

After years of having one of the most ideal salary cap situations in the NFL, the 49ers are finally beginning to feel some strains from success.  Nothing has changed with the way they manage the cap or structure their contracts, it’s just that when you build a team with this level of depth … Read the rest

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Key Additions: Antoine Bethea ($5.3M per year), Blaine Gabbert ($2M), Brandon Lloyd ($1M)

Key Re-Signings: Anquan Boldin ($6M per year), Phil Dawson ($3.1M)

Key Losses: Donte Whitner (Browns), Tarell Brown (Raiders), Anthony Dixon (Bills)

Major Cuts: Carlos Rogers ($5.1M cap savings- June 1)

Free Agency Thoughts:

After years of having one of the most ideal salary cap situations in the NFL, the 49ers are finally beginning to feel some strains from success.  Nothing has changed with the way they manage the cap or structure their contracts, it’s just that when you build a team with this level of depth the cap is designed to not make it last. Eventually good draft picks become stars and good teams prepare accordingly for the time when the extensions come due.

Technically I probably should not even include Anquan Boldin in the discussion since he signed a week before free agency , but I thought  his contract was important to talk about. In order to keep Boldin, who is very important to the team, they had to use the voidable year provisions to spread out his cap charges. Normally San Francisco would want to work in the opposite direction and use player voids to accelerate cap charges, but for the time being they can not do that.

Losing Donte Whitner was inevitable and there was no way to even consider matching the $15.5 million he will earn over two years with the Browns. Antoine Bethea is a better value and will earn just over $10 million in two years, which is less than both Whitner and TJ Ward. I would have thought they would have pushed more for Ward, but I think the 49ers are confident that Bethea will improve further with a better defense in front of him. Both Whitner and Dashon Goldson benefitted from the same circumstances.  They can always walk away from Bethea next year as his guarantees don’t kick in until April 1.

I’m not sure I understand the trade for Blaine Gabbert. I understand looking for talent, but this is different than Colt McCoy in that Gabbert’s contract is guaranteed so it is not like he will take a pay cut. With only this year remaining under contract it’s not like they will recover trade value even if he had to come in due to an injury and played spectacularly ala Matt Flynn a few years back with Green Bay. I have to guess that they intend to extend him in the summer if they like what they see and make him the long term backup QB for the team.

Everyone else that was signed (besides Phil Dawson who is on a market contract) is basically on a no risk contract. Brandon Lloyd was out of the NFL last season and may not even make the team. He has a small workout bonus which is really the only investment in him. Jonathan Martin could have some upside though the media following may be a distraction for the team. Others like Kassim Osgood and Eric Wright are on no guarantee type contracts.

Overall Grade: C

There was no expectations for the 49ers this offseason and they pretty much delivered little. While I’m a little concerned about the void years on Boldin’s contract it’s just one deal and on a win now team sometimes you have to go out of your comfort zone to maximize your chances of winning. I tend to think that they wasted $2 million on Gabbert but in terms of backup salary its reasonable if they can make him passable. They will gain the cap space they need for potential extensions or carryover when Carlos Rogers comes off the books on June2.

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Free Agency Thoughts: Arizona Cardinalshttp://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-arizona-cardinals/ http://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-arizona-cardinals/#comments Fri, 18 Apr 2014 01:31:00 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=7272

Key Additions: Jared Veldheer ($7M per year), Antonio Cromartie ($3.5M), Ted Ginn ($3.3M),Ted Larsen ($1.3M)

Key Re-Signings: Matt Shaughnessy ($2.2M per year), Jay Feely ($1M), Frostee Rucker ($1M)

Key Losses: Karlos Dansby (Browns), Andre Roberts (Redskins)

Major Cuts: Daryn Colledge ($5M cap savings- June 1)

Free Agency Thoughts:

The most important thing for the Arizona Cardinals to do this offseason was improve the offensive line and they did that with the signing of Veldheer who was one of the better bargains at the position. Veldheer was injured most of last season, but he is an above average player and … Read the rest

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Key Additions: Jared Veldheer ($7M per year), Antonio Cromartie ($3.5M), Ted Ginn ($3.3M),Ted Larsen ($1.3M)

Key Re-Signings: Matt Shaughnessy ($2.2M per year), Jay Feely ($1M), Frostee Rucker ($1M)

Key Losses: Karlos Dansby (Browns), Andre Roberts (Redskins)

Major Cuts: Daryn Colledge ($5M cap savings- June 1)

Free Agency Thoughts:

The most important thing for the Arizona Cardinals to do this offseason was improve the offensive line and they did that with the signing of Veldheer who was one of the better bargains at the position. Veldheer was injured most of last season, but he is an above average player and they got him at a reasonable cost. The structure of the deal was important. Because of cap constraints the Cardinals needed to have Veldheer at a low cap charge, but rather than doing it strictly through signing bonus money they guaranteed a portion of his second year salary and dangled a third year guarantee. If injuries strike they will carry just $3.75M in dead cap in 2016, which is a dramatic departure from the structures used for Will Beatty of the Giants and Sam Baker of the Falcons signed just a year before with similar cap constraints.

Signing Antonio Cromartie on a one year low cost contract could prove to be one of the better signings of the offseason. Because the Cardinals already have capable cover guys there is really no downside. Two years ago Cromartie was a legit Pro Bowl quality player. He had hip problems in 2013 and I think there is a real fear that last year was the beginning of what could be a fast decline, but this is a situation where taking the risk is well worth it.

While I do think the contract for Ted Ginn is a bit rich, it may just be a one year contract. Either way it’s a more efficient deal than what Roberts signed for in Washington. While Ginn will never be a great receiver teams do have to respect his speed and he can put up a big play late in the game. His ability to change field position on special teams is at the top of the NFL. In a competitive division like the NFC West those types of plays may be more meaningful.

Losing Karlos Dansby will be a blow to the defense but there is no way the Cardinals could justify spending the amount of money the Browns spent on Dansby. $6 million a year for a player on the wrong side of 30 is simply too high to even consider. The odds of Dansby recreating his 2013 season are pretty remote.

Overall Grade: A-

I think the Cardinals 2014 offseason is a great example of the way a competitive team should approach free agency. They identified a weakness and grabbed a very strong player to help solidify the position. They found veterans with some upside that can augment the talent base in place without really damaging future salary cap situations. They signed a number of depth players that should contribute none of whom would hurt the team if they flop.  The wisely used the June 1 on Daryn Colledge which will give them an operational budget for the regular season that could be used in part to pay for an extension for Patrick Peterson or to try to find offensive line help when cuts begin late in the summer.


 

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Free Agency Thoughts: Washington Redskinshttp://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-washington-redskins/ http://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-washington-redskins/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 01:40:47 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=7269

Key Additions: DeSean Jackson ($8M per year), Jason Hatcher ($6.9M), Shawn Lauvao ($4.3M), Andre Roberts ($4M), Tracy Porter ($3M), Darryl Sharpton ($1.8M), Clifton Geathers ($1.6M), Ryan Clark ($1M)

Key Re-Signings: Brian Orakpo ($11.5M per year), Perry Riley ($4M), Santana Moss ($1.02M), Brandon Meriweather ($1M)

Key Losses: JD Walton (Giants)

Major Cuts: Adam Carriker ($5M cap savings), Will Montgomery ($1.9M)

Free Agency Thoughts:

After two years of cap penalties the Redskins were finally able to get back into the free agency game without having to worry as much about cap costs in the first year of the contract. The team … Read the rest

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Key Additions: DeSean Jackson ($8M per year), Jason Hatcher ($6.9M), Shawn Lauvao ($4.3M), Andre Roberts ($4M), Tracy Porter ($3M), Darryl Sharpton ($1.8M), Clifton Geathers ($1.6M), Ryan Clark ($1M)

Key Re-Signings: Brian Orakpo ($11.5M per year), Perry Riley ($4M), Santana Moss ($1.02M), Brandon Meriweather ($1M)

Key Losses: JD Walton (Giants)

Major Cuts: Adam Carriker ($5M cap savings), Will Montgomery ($1.9M)

Free Agency Thoughts:

After two years of cap penalties the Redskins were finally able to get back into the free agency game without having to worry as much about cap costs in the first year of the contract. The team got busy in February re-signing some players long before the start of free agency and then were one of the most active teams in terms of quantity of signings.

The biggest signing came in the latest stages of free agency when they grabbed DeSean Jackson as soon as he was released by the Eagles. $8 million a year was probably a little on the high end considering there may have been lack of interest from the rest of the NFL at that point, but its not egregiously high. Surprisingly they used a void provision to further lower the cap costs, but maybe the three year cap cost represents where they wanted him at contractually (about $7.6M per year).

While it is disappointing that the Redskins could not come to terms with Brian Orakpo, it was imperative they keep him in 2014 and they blocked him from leaving by using the franchise tag. Orakpo has the talent to be one of the elite pass rushers in the NFL.  If they can come to a long term agreement with him by the deadlines that would be a good move for the Redskins.

The next two highest priced signings were questionable. Jason Hatcher at $6.9 million a year is arguably the worst free agent contract signed this offseason. Hatcher will be 32 years old in 2014 and is coming off his first ever truly great season. He’ll earn $13.5 million over two years and likely leave the Redskins with $4.5 million in dead money in 2016. This is not a position that traditionally gets paid this much at this stage of a career.

Shawn Lauvao ended up getting a contract on par with the best offseason signings at the position. Lauvao is coming off a poor season and it’s doubtful any other team would have been as high as the Redskins were. They need to get two good years out of him to justify this deal.

In light of the Jackson signing the Andre Roberts contract is going to look bad. The Redskins paid him to be a second receiver based off his 2012 season when he was starting in Arizona. Now he will be a third target which is going to make the salary seem on the high side.

Tracy Porter’s contract is fair within the market, but I tend to think he was on the lesser end of the players who received a similar salary. That said it’s a justifiable deal because he doesn’t have the injury concerns that some of the other players do.

The team did ok with the bargain signings. Sharpton is a reasonable cost and should bring more speed than what they had before. Behind him is Akeem Jordan, a very low cost signing, who may be one of the steals of free agency. Clifton Geathers can bring decent depth to the position while Ryan Clark is certainly someone who can bring leadership to the team.

Overall Grade: C

This is a tough team to grade because I like some of the moves they made, but some of the contracts they doled out are terrible. When the season is complete the performance of Jackson probably makes or breaks free agency for the team. He brings a dimension they did not have and we’ll get a better idea of how RGIII can play with a deeper passing game. Since Griffin is eligible for an extension next year I think the Redskins have to give him as much as possible to get the best idea for him. What you don’t want is to be in a position like the Jets or Rams where every season the question is “if only he had…” when referring to the highly drafted but disappointing QB.

Hatcher is the worst deal of the group and they could have upgraded at safety or corner with some of that money rather than going so much with the quantity approach in the secondary.  They may not have had to go into the upper echelon but if they did I would have preferred a Vontae Davis over Porter and Hatcher.  In terms of talent I think a C+ or B- is fair but the way they go about many of their contracts and valuation process is something that just knocks it down for me.

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Free Agency Thoughts: Philadelphia Eagleshttp://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-philadelphia-eagles/ http://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-philadelphia-eagles/#comments Thu, 17 Apr 2014 01:39:24 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=7267

Key Additions: Malcolm Jenkins ($5.2M per year), Darren Sproles ($3.5M), Nolan Carroll ($2.6M), Mark Sanchez($2.3M), Chris Maragos ($1.4M)

Key Re-Signings: Nate Allen ($2M per year), Donnie Jones ($1.8M)

Key Losses: Michael Vick (Jets), Clifton Geathers (Redskins)

Major Cuts: DeSean Jackson ($6.5M cap savings), Patrick Chung ($2.3M)

Free Agency Thoughts:

The most controversial decision of the offseason, not just for the Eagles but probably the entire NFL, was the decision to release WR DeSean Jackson. Jackson was very productive last season, his first in Chip Kelly’s offense, but the Eagles seemed to sour on him internally. Jackson was always going to … Read the rest

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Key Additions: Malcolm Jenkins ($5.2M per year), Darren Sproles ($3.5M), Nolan Carroll ($2.6M), Mark Sanchez($2.3M), Chris Maragos ($1.4M)

Key Re-Signings: Nate Allen ($2M per year), Donnie Jones ($1.8M)

Key Losses: Michael Vick (Jets), Clifton Geathers (Redskins)

Major Cuts: DeSean Jackson ($6.5M cap savings), Patrick Chung ($2.3M)

Free Agency Thoughts:

The most controversial decision of the offseason, not just for the Eagles but probably the entire NFL, was the decision to release WR DeSean Jackson. Jackson was very productive last season, his first in Chip Kelly’s offense, but the Eagles seemed to sour on him internally. Jackson was always going to have an uphill battle to earn this year of his contract but the fact that Philadelphia made no push to rework the deal makes it clear they did not want him. If Jeremy Maclin is healthy this move will leave the Eagles cap looking even healthier in the future.

The biggest money acquisition the team made was Malcolm Jenkins who is expected to improve the safety position in 2014. Jenkins is talented and a former first round pick which probably helped augment his contract. At $5.2M a year I would consider him overpaid, but it is a short term deal and hi $10 million two year payout is in line with the players earning in the high $4 million category.

The trade for Darren Sproles was interesting. It jumped their backfield spending to second in the NFL behind the Vikings and may have been made with an eye on 2015 as much as 2014. In 2015 LeSean McCoy will earn $10.25 million, essentially a designed walk year, not unlike the Jackson contract discussed above. By reducing his workload in 2014 it should bring his absolute production down and turn him into a two down player, giving the Eagles more leverage in extending him on more favorable terms in 2015 rather than cutting him. Sproles also gives the Eagles a boost on special teams.

I would not expect the Eagles to miss backup QB Mike Vick too much. Vick would have provided too many distractions to a team that hopes they found their star of the future in Nick Foles. Expecting Foles to duplicate his performance is not realistic and the last thing they want is for crowds to be calling for the backup. Mark Sanchez is a reclamation project and incredibly cheap by any standard.

For a low cost, Nolan Carroll is a capable depth player while Chris Maragos will fill some voids on special teams. The re-signing of Nate Allen was also a limited risk signing.

Overall Grade: B+

Most of what the Eagles needed to happen occurred well before free agency when they locked up Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin, which allowed them to jettison Jackson from the team. They also signed Jason Peters to an extension. In general I think the Eagles had the right approach to free agency for their club. They augmented the talent they had on the team, but did so without getting too star-centric or stuck for multiple years on bad deals, which was a lesson they had learned a few years back. Both the Jackson and Sproles moves should lead to much more cap flexibility in the future.  The Eagles are a shrewd organization and one of those teams that should be considered a model franchise to follow.


 

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Free Agency Thoughts: New York Giantshttp://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-new-york-giants/ http://overthecap.com/free-agency-thoughts-new-york-giants/#comments Tue, 15 Apr 2014 22:25:08 +0000 http://overthecap.com/?p=7262

Key Additions: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ($7M per year), Geoff Schwartz ($4.2M), Walter Thurmond ($3M), JD Walton ($3M), Rashad Jennings ($2.5M), Jameel McClain ($2.3M), Robert Ayers ($1.9M)

Key Re-Signings: Jon Beason ($5.7M per year), Stevie Brown ($2.8M), Trumaine McBride ($1.4M) , Josh Brown ($1.3M)

Key Losses: Linval Joseph (Vikings), Justin Tuck (Raiders), Hakeem Nicks (Colts), Kevin Boothe (Raiders), Keith Rivers (Bills)

Major Cuts: David Bass ($5M cap savings- June 1)

Free Agency Thoughts:

The Giants were one of the most active teams in free agency, adding 7 starting quality players to the team. This was a different approach than last season for … Read the rest

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Key Additions: Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie ($7M per year), Geoff Schwartz ($4.2M), Walter Thurmond ($3M), JD Walton ($3M), Rashad Jennings ($2.5M), Jameel McClain ($2.3M), Robert Ayers ($1.9M)

Key Re-Signings: Jon Beason ($5.7M per year), Stevie Brown ($2.8M), Trumaine McBride ($1.4M) , Josh Brown ($1.3M)

Key Losses: Linval Joseph (Vikings), Justin Tuck (Raiders), Hakeem Nicks (Colts), Kevin Boothe (Raiders), Keith Rivers (Bills)

Major Cuts: David Bass ($5M cap savings- June 1)

Free Agency Thoughts:

The Giants were one of the most active teams in free agency, adding 7 starting quality players to the team. This was a different approach than last season for the Giants and really for most teams in the NFL. Last season the Giants attempted to piece a team together with a large amount of minimum salary contracts to supplement the core talent. The team never fired so this year they hit free agency more aggressively but, for the most part, targeted the lower tier of available players to do so rather than signing the highest priced talent.

Of the new players they signed, Geoff Schwartz was the best signing. He is a quality player and fills and immediate need. If things do not go well it’s at worst a two year contract, but if things do go well they could have a top 10 veteran guard at a mid starter price. He should being some instant stability to what was a poor line in 2013.

Jon Beason fit incredibly well in the organization when he came via trade last year and was someone they had to keep. I would have liked to have seen less signing bonus money, but they do have over $3 million in gameday roster bonuses to protect them from injury, something Beason has struggled with.

Walter Thurmond at $3 million was another good signing. It’s a one year contract where you know you will get the best out of the player. This is not unlike the Raiders signing of Tarell Brown where there is really no downside to the decision. He should be a very productive third corner for the Giants.

Re-signing Stevie Brown was something they had to do. He was terrific in 2012 and his injury in 2013 probably hurt the team greatly. He has the ability to take advantage of mistakes on the field and essentially they are paying him $1 million for a look at his health in the summer. If healthy he is a bargain.

The Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie signing was a head scratcher at the price and contract construction. He talked about retiring and only had one other real option which was the New York Jets. The Jets had been tight with money all season and represented little threat and I tend to think the Giants were just bidding against themselves. To fit him within the cap they had to give him a large signing bonus which probably guarantees him three years on the team with a significant amount of dead money the following season if cut.

Why the Giants selected JD Walton to take over at center is a mystery. They must have designs on drafting a center and Walton simply being a one year stopgap or veteran backup. Brian De la Puente, now on the Bears, was a superior player and came in much cheaper. The Giants were linked to him early and perhaps he thought too highly of himself which took the Giants out, but that would have made more sense on almost every level.

Of the lesser free agent signings I think Jennings fits the passing situation need the team wants. That said they overpaid for him and a $2.25 million signing bonus is a bit rich, but Jennings has limited wear on his body so perhaps the Giants see more upside. Still it is a high number to bank on a player who just one season ago was not wanted by most teams on a low dollar contract and it is not as if he lit the world on fire in Oakland.

Robert Ayers is a decent upside potential signing and fits in with what most former first round types would get. The Giants have incentives in the deal which they will gladly pay if he develops into a better pass rusher….Jameel McClain will likely be lost in the shuffle, but it was a low risk contract.

Losing Linval Joseph was a mistake. He signed a top 10 positional contract in Minnesota, but he was a young player that was very important to the teams’ better play in the second half of last season.  Perhaps the Giants did not feel he was a strong enough pass rusher to justify the contract, but it is a risky move to abandon the player.

None of the other losses should concern the team. While the loss of Tuck probably has some hurt feelings, the fact is his production had been declining for years before he played much better in his walk year and much of the standout production came in his two games against the Redskins. That’s not something the Giants could pay much for. I think everyone knew the time was over for Hakeem Nicks and the Giants.

Overall Grade: C+

The Giants got better this offseason but I question the cost of doing so, in particular the Rodgers-Cromartie contract that is very player friendly for a player who is by no means a sure-fire bet. They would have been better off committing to Joseph and finding another second tier cornerback. The Giants pushed a few guys into a paycut and did not rework the contract of either Eli Manning or Antrel Rolle, which was a good move since both could be on their way out next season.

I think the team has added far better depth for next season, some of whom bring some upside on lower cost contracts. The way they approached the offseason tells me that they are unsure of where they are right now and how competitive the team can be. Most of this feels like a team making keeping their fingers crossed and taking one last chance with this group. I think they are at a position where I could see them getting hot, if Manning is on a good year, and going deep in the playoffs or just completely falling apart and having to sort through a veteran roster for at least one more year before they can get younger and competitive, likely with a new GM, head coach, and QB.

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