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.



A Look at Falcons WR Roddy White


There was a report Thursday from Ian Rapoport of that the Falcons are thinking about an extension for Wide Receiver Roddy White. White has been a tremendous bargain for the Falcons since signing a contract extension in 2009, averaging 98 receptions and 1,297 yards from 2009 through 2012 while earning $8.54 million per year. Because the Falcons extended him while he was in the final year of his rookie contract his salary cap charges have never exceeded $9.125 million and he has never really been a salary cap burden at a premier pay position.

However, White has struggled with injuries in 2013 and at 32 years of age there could be real worry about significant decline in performance. He will finish 2013 with his worst statistical production since his rookie season and possibly his career- White has just 20 receptions for 209 yards with 6 games to go.  With the Falcons and White suffering through a poor season I had assumed that the Falcons would either let White play out his contract, which I had listed at a relatively low cap number of $6.325 million, or release White and move on.

I was reminded via Twitter by contract expert Joel Corry that White has escalators in the final year of his contract. I was able to confirm through a source with knowledge of the contract that the escalators do exist and are tied to Pro Bowl appearances and workout participation.  The escalator can total $5 million and while the actual breakdown was not told to me I would think Pro Bowls from 2009-2011 would lead to him earning at least $3 million of the escalator. It probably means his real salary cap number will be anywhere from $9 million to $11.325 million in 2014.

Those numbers are probably unsustainable for the Falcons 2014 salary cap and would force them into releasing White.  With QB Matt Ryan struggling and the possibility of TE Tony Gonzalez retiring Atlanta may not want to completely break up the White/Gonzalez/Julio Jones group that had been so successful before injuries to White and Jones in 2013. Atlanta has so much invested in Ryan that giving him familiar targets is almost a necessity moving forward.

What might an extension for White cost?  In general the market has not been kind to older receivers and White will likely push at the high end to try to match the Panthers 4 year contract extension with Steve Smith signed in 2012 when Smith was 33 years old. Smith had struggled in 2009 and 2010 for a number of reasons but rebounded greatly in 2011 with the addition of QB Cam Newton, putting up his best statistical season since 2008. With a high salary cap charge in 2012 the Panthers awarded Smith with a $7.5 million a year extension that was designed to be as much about cap relief and a safety blanket for the QB than anything else.

Though White is coming from a negative statistical year his performances leading up to that poor year are superior to what Smith accomplished in 2009 and 2010 at 30 and 31 years of age.  Likewise he will have a large cap number and a QB in need of a familiar face in the offense. The low end of the spectrum would be around the $5.8 million that Reggie Wayne signed last year with the Indianapolis Colts.


The important part for the Falcons is how to structure the contract so that they are not stuck with an older unproductive player. While it is important for the short term to keep White, long term White may not be a major part of the offense. There have been plenty of productive players in the past at the position through the years including Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison, Jimmy Smith, Reggie Wayne, Keyshawn Johnson,  Joey Galloway, and Donald Driver among others. Atlanta may be a bit more cautious in their approach as more recent cases have not been as productive. Wayne suffered a knee injury this season, Smith is not going to be as dominant this season, Santana Moss has not been productive in Washington. Anquan Boldin looks finished and Randy Moss was done the day he turned 33.  Factor in injuries this season and the Falcons may want to take a very risk averse approach to a contract.

Considering the season he will be coming off of I would think a 3 year extension makes the most sense for both sides. If executed in week 17 the Falcons can prorate money for a full five years whereas waiting until next year would mean just 4 year of prorating money or signing a 4 year extension. A 4 year contract could potentially up the guaranteed money as the contract should see somewhere between 45 and 49% of the total new money come in the form of guarantees.

For the sake of argument let’s say White earns somewhere between Wayne and Smith and call it a contract worth $6.8 million a year with $10.2 million of it guaranteed, We’ll also assume that his salary next season is expected to be $8 million making this a 4 years of contract  worth $28.4 million.  What might be a possible structure?




Existing Bonus

Extension Bonus












































Don’t pay attention to the 2013 numbers as this is just a bonus dump year with money already earned so I didnt bother putting in his current P5. What we did here is just add $1 million in cap charges to his non-escalated 2014 salary cap number. That should be a reasonable amount. The 2014 salary would be fully guaranteed and we would also guarantee $200,000 of the 2015 salary. Those numbers can be played with for cap purposes, but I like the idea of only having around $3 million in dead money in 2015 if 2014 ends up being similar to 2013 in terms of injuries and performance.

When the extension kicks in I want to begin including per game active roster bonuses to protect from injuries keeping White from playing in the event he is still productive. The low cap charge in 2015 should work to benefit both sides. At that point Julio Jones will either be playing on a franchise tag or in the first year of a very lucrative contract extension. With such a low cap figure the Falcons may consider keeping White even if he has a mediocre (by his standards) 2014 campaign. The odds of White seeing year 2016 and 2017 are pretty slim and dead money fits accordingly with that.

In the end this will cost the Falcons $14.5 million in 2014 and 2015 to keep White on the team. If our $3 million escalator guess is correct that boils down to a 1 year $6.5 million dollar deal. That’s perfectly acceptable to help the teams salary cap and hopefully keep a Falcon in one uniform for his entire career.



Best & Worst Contracts: The Atlanta Falcons


A few weeks ago Jason LaCanfora published a list of best and worst contracts in the NFL so I thought it might make a good idea for us to do the same here at OTC, with a team by team approach. I’ll try to be a bit more analytical in terms of why money was paid and how it fits in the market, but the general premise is the same. The one key difference is outside of restructured rookie contracts under the old CBA we will only use veteran contracts as there is a big difference between best draft picks and best contracts.  Please note that there is a difference between a bad player and a bad contract when discussing some of the selections. Clicking on a players name will take you to his salary cap page.

Roddy WhiteBest Contract: Roddy White

Wide Receiver has become one of the premier pay spots in the NFL. The position has escaped the market correction that seems to have impacted Defensive Ends, Left Tackles, and Cornerbacks and the top of the market makes around $12 million a year in free agency often based just on hope for “what they can do” without those players actually doing it. There is no need to hope for White. White is simply the real deal.

You will not find many players in the NFL as consistent as White. You can pretty much pencil him in for 100 receptions and 1300 yards every season. You can probably make an argument that he is one of the five most consistent and productive players at the position in the NFL. He fits perfectly in the Falcons offense and was helpful in the early stages of development of QB Matt Ryan. There is little to not like about White outside of the fact that he will be 32 this season which could mean bouts of declining productivity.

At just over $8.5 million a season, White is a steal in this overinflated WR marketplace. One of the best in the NFL, his salary ranks middle of the pack among starters. Part of the reason is because his deal was signed in 2009 before salaries exploded, but he earns less than Miles Austin and far less than Brandon Marshall, two players signed just one year later. Marshall, at $11.2 million a season represents what White should be earning.

The Falcons also should be given credit for the structure of his deal. Players such as Steve  Smith and Andre Johnson had contracts that would see more balloon type payments as the players got older leaving a team with a very difficult decision. The Falcons wisely kept White’s cap hits steady and marked the 2013 season as a possible jettison point, a logical year based on age. White’s cap this year is over $9 million and with $3.85 million in dead money an easy negotiating point to force a player into a “paycut or be cut” scenario.  Of course with how White played that never became an issue but it was clearly planned for.

White will only count for $6.325 million against the 2014 salary cap assuming no incentives or escalators are reached. The dead money in 2014 is just $1.325 million giving the Falcons as many options as they want with him. They can offer a Reggie Wayne type “ride off into the sunset” contract where he finishes his career in Atlanta at continued reasonable cap charges or just let him play it out at just over a $6 million dollar cap charge. There is little more than you could ever expect out of a player than what White has given the Falcons over the course of his contract.

Sam BakerWorst Contract: Sam Baker

I went back and forth on a few names here. The Falcons don’t really have anything that screams at you as bad. They are more like a handful of some mid tier contracts that you say maybe could be better than they were. Part of me wanted to go with William Moore who I think is paid more because of fear of losing him and the unknown than what he actually brings to the field relative to the position, but its still a contract that they can escape from after two seasons if they wanted to. The same can not be said for Baker.

Baker isn’t  a bad player and played pretty well last season, but I don’t think many people equate Baker with being a core building block that can not be replaced. The Falcons more or less have given him a contract structure that won’t allow them to replace him. To get the deal done Atlanta had to use both the signing bonus and option bonus mechanism, prorating money over 6 years and making the backend dead money more difficult to deal with.

I think a fair comparison here is Will Beatty of the Giants who is actually going to be paid more on an annual but has a friendlier contract structure. Beatty will see 64% of his contract paid out in the first three seasons. Baker will earn 65.9% of his five year total in the first three seasons. Maybe that was a tradeoff for a 6th year, but that 6th year was mainly only added for cap purposes. So it’s the same or more than the higher priced player.

Despite the higher payout Beatty’s dead money consistently runs lower than Bakers. Beatty will carry a $5 million dead hit if cut in the 4th year of his contract. Baker will carry $6.4 million. The following season Beatty is at $2.5 while Baker is at $3.6. Those are the kind of numbers that gives teams some leverage to renegotiate contracts if the player doesn’t perform. Baker is pretty much safe for 4 seasons. So while I would not consider this a really bad contract by any stretch, if there is a spot to go where the Falcons may have overreached a little I’d give that nod to Baker’s contract.

Check out Our Other Best & Worst Contract Articles

AFC East: Buffalo BillsMiami DolphinsNew England PatriotsNew York Jets

AFC North: Baltimore RavensCincinnati BengalsCleveland BrownsPittsburgh Steelers

AFC South: Houston TexansIndianapolis ColtsJacksonville JaguarsTennessee Titans

AFC West: Denver BroncosKansas City ChiefsOakland RaidersSan Diego Chargers

NFC East: Dallas CowboysNew York GiantsPhiladelphia EaglesWashington Redskins

NFC North: Chicago BearsDetroit LionsGreen Bay PackersMinnesota Vikings

NFC South: Atlanta Falcons, Carolina Panthers (July 24)