Thoughts on Glenn and Armstead Big Money Contracts

We are in extension season right now as teams try to hammer out new contracts before heading on vacation before training camp and we had two monster ones this week with Terron Armstead and Cordy Glenn signing for $13 and $12 million a year respectively. While both players are entrenched starters neither has made a Pro Bowl and I’m not sure if opinion around the NFL placed them at the top of the position (PFF does with Armstead who ranked 3rd last year while Glenn was 10th) yet their salaries reflect that. It was a bit surprising since similar talent players in Russell Okung and Kelvin Beachum were not able to reach the same plateaus as free agents even in their option pickups. So let’s see how these deals stack up with the rest of the market.


Total Money

PlayerYear SignedYearsAge at SigningTotalAPYEffective APY
Cordy Glenn2016527$60,000,000$12,000,000$12,000,000
Terron Armstead2016525$65,000,000$13,000,000$11,111,833
Tyron Smith2014824$97,600,000$12,200,000$10,971,801
Lane Johnson2016526$56,250,000$11,250,000$9,893,707
Trent Williams2015527$66,000,000$13,200,000$13,041,667

In all cases I’d consider these strong numbers for both players, but specifically Glenn even if his total number is smaller. Glenn’s effective APY (meaning old plus new money) will rank second in the group. He will also be 27 this season which is older than most of the other players on the list. For the Saints they have a much longer window of expected performance for Armstead which I think justifies the contract that much more. The other standout here is how incredibly team friendly that Smith contract was for Dallas. Smith was considered a superior player at the time of his extension, arguably the best in the NFL at the time.

In fairness to the Bills they may look at this as a 4 year extension which would bump the annual value closer to the Johnson contract, though I’m not sure how valid of a point that is since they voluntarily locked themselves into a massive contract for this year for Glenn with the franchise tag.

Though this is a different discussion to have, when you look at true franchise players like Dez Bryant his contract’s annual value eventually exceeded the tag price. The tag gave the Cowboys leverage to get some decent terms in the deal. Buffalo didn’t need the leverage of the tag to sign a 4 year extension for $11.5 million a year.  In my mind the contract simply shows how bad of a job the team did by not proactively approaching Glenn for an extension back in January. Getting involved with the tag was a mistake.

I think other teams may have tried to hammer the point of where Armstead was drafted to get better terms but New Orleans may not have really considered that because of Drew Brees possibly blocking use of the tag and limiting any leverage they could have if Armstead was recognized by more this year for his play. They also had the fact that they drafted a tackle last year in the first round to use as leverage that clearly was not used or not effective.

Guarantee Structure

PlayerTotal Guarantee% GuaranteedFull Guarantee% Full GuaranteeTotal GPYFull GPY
Cordy Glenn$38,000,00063.30%$26,500,00044.20%$7,600,000$5,300,000
Terron Armstead$38,000,00058.50%$20,880,00032.10%$7,600,000$4,176,000
Tyron Smith$40,000,00041.00%$22,118,01322.70%$5,000,000$2,764,752
Lane Johnson$35,500,00063.10%$20,862,24237.10%$7,100,000$4,172,448
Trent Williams$41,250,00062.50%$30,000,00045.50%$8,250,000$6,000,000

For those of you studying how to approach contracts such as these, the Glenn deal is a good example of a way to make both sides happy in a deal. On its face these are awesome numbers for Glenn. It seems clear that this contract was benchmarked much closer to Williams by his agents than Armstead’s which focused more on overall numbers rather than numbers based on the size of the contract.

But if we take Glenn’s tag value out of the equation his total guarantee drops to $24.24 million and his full guarantee to just $12.8 million. His percentages drop to 52% and 28% respectively with per year numbers of $6 and $3.2 million. High fives in Buffalo for those numbers being under the other tackles, except its their fault they locked him into an additional $13.7 million in guarantees. Its just a bad use of the franchise tag, but given that is a sunk cost it clearly shows ways that this will be looked at by two sides in a totally different way and as a win for both sides.

Contract Structure

PlayerSigning BonusOption BonusRoster BonusPer Game BonusP5
Cordy Glenn26.70%0.00%0.00%13.30%60.00%
Terron Armstead16.90%0.00%3.10%2.30%77.60%
Tyron Smith10.20%0.00%0.00%0.00%89.80%
Lane Johnson17.80%0.00%0.00%2.20%80.00%
Trent Williams12.90%15.20%0.00%2.30%69.70%

Im making the assumption here that Glenn’s reported roster bonuses are of the per game variety. I don’t know if that is the case but given that they are the same each year it would lend itself to that possibility.  If that assumption is wrong and they are split then this is even a stronger deal for Glenn. I’d say the high level of per gamers here is the tradeoff for the massive signing bonus and overall friendly structure.

Glenn got a huge bonus relative to value to improve the dead money protection for the player. Again this follows the great structure the Redskins gave to Williams. These are very player friendly contracts that can get a team in trouble if the players begins to tail off before the three year mark. Buffalo first did one of these with Mario Williams but in the last two years its becoming clear that they are a team where you can pull massive bonuses.

Everything for Armstead runs right in line with the market. The roster bonuses he has are simply the Saints way of doing business. They have consistently used offseason roster bonuses as part of their contracts so it was no surprise they would be used here.

Cash Flows

PlayerYear 0Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4Year 5
Cordy Glenn$0$19,000,000$30,000,000$41,250,000$50,500,000$60,000,000
Terron Armstead$10,050,000$19,350,000$29,650,000$41,450,000$53,250,000$65,000,000
Tyron Smith$10,000,000$20,000,000$30,000,000$40,000,000$50,000,000$60,000,000
Lane Johnson$10,000,000$18,000,000$28,250,000$39,100,000$47,935,000$56,250,000
Trent Williams$3,250,000$20,250,000$31,750,000$42,000,000$53,250,000$66,000,000

These are great deals for both Glenn and Armstead. Their one year takehome trails Smith and Williams by a small amount but Glenn will match Smith by year 2 and both have better overall structures. Over three years they trail Williams by just a small amount and will jump Smith, who is by far the best player on this list. Glenn will match Smith over the next two seasons while Armstead catches up with Williams.

This is the one area where Armstead seems to benchmark the Williams contract and that kind of fits in with the other areas where it seems the concern was overall numbers more than structure and . Over three years the totals are near identical and will be the same over four years and just $1 million less over five. Basically he took less guarantees to hit the same values. Considering his age that may be a very fair tradeoff since he probably has a much better chance of seeing those later years than Williams. Williams is also the more decorated player so even being in the same range as him is a great job.

Overall

I think both of these are great deals for the player but I really find the Glenn deal a big win. He has cap hits in 17 and 18 that average over $14.2 million a year which puts him in a great position to be restructured. The huge bonus money is something I love to see as is the backloaded cap structure. The team has traded future flexibility for immediate cap relief and Im not sure why the Bills felt the need to do that. They continue their run of big time player friendly contracts which is going to likely lead to massive deals eventually for Gilmore and Taylor.

Armstead’s deal I think is more in line with the market though a solid deal for the player. The Saints either did not use whatever little leverage they had or Armstead called a bluff and they blinked first. They have a major contract issue on their hands with Brees so it may have been imperative to have as many new players locked up as possible before getting serious with Brees.

In both cases I’d love to see what role the Williams and Johnson contracts played. Both were reaches but when two different teams do contracts like that it becomes harder to argue that they are outliers. I can see similarities in both contracts so Id guess they were both at the front of discussions. Being a first mover in negotiating an NFL contract is always a benefit and there are now a number of tackles around the NFL who have very quickly become more cost effective in light of where the position has headed over the last few months.