Stock Up: Week 14


Every Monday during the season we will take a look back at three players who are entering important stages of their contract that may have helped their stock in upcoming negotiations with their play on Sunday. In addition we will also look at one player signed in the offseason to a new contract that exceeded all expectations and provided exceptional value to his team.

Stock Up

Frank Gore– Without Frank Gore the 49ers would have lost to the Seahawks and their playoff chances would have taken a big hit. Gore rumbled for 110 yards including the 51 yard backbreaker that set up the winning field goal. It was a great run by Gore made even better when he realized he was going to get tackled from behind so rather than risk going out of bounds or getting the ball poked out he dropped to the ground and gave himself up to keep the clock moving. With the 49ers salary cap getting tight next season and Colin Kaepernick needing that running game Gore will likely get a contract extension as the Niners look to lower his $6.45 million cap charge.

Karlos Dansby– All Dansby did on Sunday was register 8 tackles, get a sack, and intercept a pass for a touchdown. I’d say that is pretty good. Dansby who now has two touchdowns on the season is just 1 touchdown behind WR Mike Wallace of Dansby’s former team. Think about that for a second. An inside linebacker playing for $2.25 million has almost as many scores as an offensive player earning $12 million. Its been an amazing turnaround for Dansby who was one of the most overpaid players in Miami who is now one of the most underpaid in Arizona. He’s in line again for a longer term contract next season and with the way he is playing it will likely be a big raise from his current one year deal.

Roddy White– I have touched on White’s contract situation before and how he will either be extended or released, but he’s making a hard push for a nice extension with his last two games. With the Falcons battling the elements and lack of weapons White was the main target and caught 8 passes for 74 yards. This brings his two week total to 18 receptions for 217 yards, which are vintage numbers for White. He has battled injuries this year but can use the final three weeks of the season to state his case that he is still a perfect complement to Julio Jones.


New Contract Player Of The Week

John Abraham– Abraham was released by the Atlanta Falcons over the cost of his contract and probably his age as well. They wanted to get younger along their line and cut the 35 year old loose. After garnering little interest around the league the Cardinals offered him $1 million guaranteed and $2.1 million total for the year to try out for Arizona. He’s been one of the best bargains in the NFL this season and notched 3 sacks this week against the Rams to bring  his season total to 11. With 3 games to go he should end up with the second highest total of his career. Arizona has him under contract for $2.5 million plus bonus clauses next season if he continues to play in the NFL.



Cardinals Sign John Abraham for $4.6 Million; Eric Winston for $1.25 Million


Numbers are slowly trickling in on the signings from the past few days and we were able to track down a few of them from a league source.  John Abraham officially signed a two year contract worth $4.6 million with the Arizona Cardinals.  The only guaranteed portion of the contract is a $1 million dollar signing bonus that is prorated for two years for salary cap purposes. Abraham is also due a $100,000 roster bonus which I would assume is for games active. Abraham’s 2013 salary is $1 million, making his cash takehome in 2013 just $2.1 million.

In 2014 Abraham will carry a non guaranteed base salary of $2.5 million. He also has an escalator available plus incentives. As Abraham learned last season season achieving an escalator could lead to release, as escalators are often not guaranteed once earned for prior years performance.

This is a tremendous deal for the Cardinals as Abraham was an effective situational pass rusher for the Falcons last season and at the most will be a $2.1 million dollar one year rental. Dwight Freeney will cost the Chargers over $5 million dollars in 2013 while Osi Umenyiora will cost Abraham’s former team $5 million.

In addition the Cardinals also signed RT Eric Winston to a contract worth just $1.25 million. The only guarantee for Winston is a $160,000 signing bonus. His base salary for the season is $840,000 and he also has a roster bonus worth up to $250,000. The contract contains $750,000 in incentives, which are valued as “Likely To Be Earned” and thus count towards the cap in 2013, pushing Winston’s 2013 cap charge to $2 million. If Winston does not actually earn the incentive during the year the Cardinals salary cap will be credited for the difference in 2014.

Winston started 16 games for Kansas City in 2012 and has not missed a game since 2006, which should give him a strong chance to earn the extra $750,000.  This is another low risk and potentially high reward contract for the Cardinals.

View John Abraham’s Salary Cap Page

View Eric Winston’s Salary Cap Page



The 49’ers Get a Bargain with Justin Smith


The numbers became official today for DE Justin Smith and his two year extension with the 49’ers- 2 years at an average of $4.35 million a season. By many accounts it is a very team friendly contract but I may as well add my two cents in on the topic as well.

The three obvious comparison points here are the contracts signed by John Abraham in 2012 and Osi Umenyiora and Dwight Freeney in 2013 and we will use these deals as a point of reference. But before we present the contracts I want to make a point that while the stated guarantee on Smith’s new deal is $9.56 million in reality he was going to be on the 49’ers in 2013 and the $7.5 million base salary for the year was going to be earned. For that purpose we will only consider the contract to contain $2 million in new money guarantees. Here are how the dollars stack up:





1st Year Cash


John Abraham






Dwight Freeney






Osi Umenyiora






Justin Smith






Clearly the value of the extension was designed to fit between the Umenyiora and Freeney contracts. Abraham is no longer in the NFL having been released from his contract after one season. Smith will earn less than both Umenyiora and Freeney in first year extension compensation and has a higher probability of not seeing that money due to a limited guarantee in his extension years.

Smith should have had far more leverage than either Freeney or Umenyiora had even factoring in age and his triceps injury from last season.  Here is the base statistical breakdown of the players:





Dwight Freeney




Osi Umenyiora




Justin Smith




Despite playing from a non-rush position Smith did generate 3 sacks and significantly more tackles than either Freeney or Umenyiora.  It is also worth nothing that Smith has made 4 straight Pro Bowls and was a 1st and 2sn team All Pro in 2012 and 2013. Freeney’s last Pro Bowl was in 2011 and All Pro season in 2009. Umenyiora was a 2nd team All NFL player in 2010.

One of the big reasons for the increased production and postseason honors is because Smith is a full time player as evidenced by his snap count being over 1000 last season. The other two are situational players. In terms of financial planning that means when you sign Justin Smith you only need to sign Justin Smith. When you sign either of the other players you need to also sign a rotational player to make up for the 400 snaps when they will not be on the field. Most likely it means a cap hit ranging from $555,000 to $1.25 million for the role player, making the true spend on the other two players closer to $5 million a year and $6 million in first year cash. Rather than being awarded for his durability Smith was not. If we place their dollar value on per snaps played Smith is the clear loser.


Per snap APY

Per snap Guar

Per Snap 1 year cash

Dwight Freeney




Osi Umenyiora




Justin Smith




At a minimum he should have been earning $6 million a year with $7 million paid out in the first year of which $6 million was guaranteed just by taking him as an equal player to the other two. Factoring in the actual performance each of those numbers should be bumped by at least $1 million. It’s a bargain basement contract for a premier player.

Smith should have had even more leverage based on the 49’ers salary cap situation. As we discussed last month the 49’ers did not have enough cap room to function in the 2013 NFL season. Suggested moves were extending Smith or perhaps extending S Donte Whitner or CB Tarell Brown.  With limited cap upside to the latter moves, barring a release,  Smith should have been in a position to either get large guarantees in 2014 or two funny money void seasons in return for playing nice with the salary cap.

Smith was in a position to hold the 49’ers feet to the fire due to the cap. Freeney was allowed to play his deal out on a monster 2012 cap figure while Umenyiora simply took a void year and a slight raise to help the Giants out with their salary cap in 2012.  Like Smith, Umenyiora fired his agent to get that contract done himself, a contract that was far more player friendly due to the void year than this one. Instead Smith chose option C which was to do everything in his power to help the team and get almost no raise in the process. Smith was scheduled to earn $8 million in 2013- he will now earn $8.1 million.

While the particulars of the contract have not been made public in regards to the roster bonuses, my experience with the 49’ers and salary cap in general would tell me that $400,000 per year is probably tied to being on the active 53 man roster. Freeney’s contract contains similar incentives and Umenyiora’s deal with the Giants in 2012 also contained such provisions. At least part of the roster bonuses, according to Corry,  are capable of being turned into a signing bonus to further lessen the cap burden in the future if needed without having to go back to the bargaining table if Smith again has an All Pro caliber year and looks for more money to be a salary cap aide. The Niners hold all the cards.

As fans we often get wrapped up in the negative side of the money equation focusing on the players who get big money and then fail to perform to the level of the contract. Sometimes we should focus on a player like Smith who potentially gave away millions for the chance to win a Super Bowl and finish his career in a specific city. This is not the first time Smith has done this. Smith agreed back towards the end of the prior CBA to a void/buyback provision in his contract that allowed the 49’ers to use up their remaining cap space in the final capped year and reduce his cap charges once the cap returned in 2011. Smith gave up his dead money protection from release in future contract years by agreeing to the restructure.

Smith has really been a bigger behind the scenes help to the 49’ers than most will realize. The decision to buy in back in 2009 has helped San Francisco with their cap in 2011 and 2012 and now  he is helping them again in 2013 and 2014 with a very team friendly contract. Regardless of the how the 49’ers season turns out it will likely be better simply because of Smith’s willingness and desire to remain in San Francisco and “play ball” with the 49’ers front office n their terms. Very few players would be willing to do that. Smith has time and time again.


Falcons Release Three, Clear Nearly $17.5 million in Net Cap Space

According to Adam Schefer:

The Turner move had long been expected so there is no surprise there. I had speculated about the release of Dunta Robinson on the PFF radio show the other day. Robinson never lived up to expectations and was set to count for $9 million against the 2013 salary cap. $3 million of his salary would become fully guaranteed if on the roster on March 17th. Abraham was a bit of a surprise. He is still a productive pass rusher and had 10 sacks last season. We had his cap number at $7.25 million which is pretty cheap for a player that can get after the passer.

Releasing Turner saves the team $6.9 million in cap room, Robinson’s release saves the team $6 million and the Abraham cut takes $5.75 million off the books. That totals $18.65 million in savings. They will be replaced by 3 minimum salary players making the net cap gain $17.435 million that can now be spent in free agency.

My gut feeling is that there will be a great deal of Darrelle Revis and Dwight Freeney speculation now that these moves have been made. Atlanta knows they are a close team and could look for two impact players like that as the missing piece to the puzzle. I will update the Atlanta Falcons salary cap pages within the hour to reflect the releases.