A Closer Look at Corey Liuget’s $51.25 Million Contract

The details of Corey Liuget’s recent contract extension were released today in many news outlets and we now have a better idea about his contract. The total new money vaue of the contract is $51.25 million, which is actually higher than the initial reports. The contract has $13.977 in fully guaranteed salary and a total of $30.477 million in injury guarantees. Based on contract structure he has a functional guarantee of $22.477 million, which will all be paid out by 2016. In terms of new money guarantees Liuget is receiving an extra $8.5 million in full guarantees and $17 million in functional ones. His $5.477 million salary had already been guaranteed prior to the extension. 

Liuget is the second of the 34 defensive ends to earn a new contract this offseason following Cam Jordan’s big extension with the Saints. These are the contracts shaping the market for the position. Liuget was considered less accomplished than Jordan and certainly nowhere near the pass rusher Jordan is. That seems to have been properly reflected in the contract. Here is the year by year breakdown for Jordan, Liuget, and Calais Campbell who remains at the top of the market for players not named Watt.

PlayerYear 0Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4Year 5

Liuget will trail Jordan by 13% in earnings over the first extension year of the contract. He can get that down to about 6.5% if he makes the 2017 season, which is not guaranteed by any stretch. At that point in time it will cost just $4.5 million against the cap for the Chargers to release Liuget from his contract, a savings of $5 million. By comparison Jordan will cost the team $9.6 million against the cap if cut, a meager $700,000 in savings.

The main difference is due to the signing bonus included in the contract. The Chargers wisely avoided a massive bonus by limiting the bonus to $7.5 million and simply paying the rest of his salary in cash that will count immediately on the cap. Jordan received a $16 million bonus to sign, one of the largest non-QB signing bonuses in the NFL.

So realistically Liuget is being viewed as worth 13% less than Jordan with the ability to get closer if he performs well enough to not be released. As more contracts come in at this position Bryce can give us the official ECV breakdown, but this contract is certainly not going to match the current big ones, even if the annual value may look somewhat similar.

Where this leaves the other player’s looking for a new deal I can’t say for certain, but $17 million in first year new money looks to be the new floor as Liuget does match Campbell in this metric. But to reach the Cambell numbers is going to require teams to really front load the contract and use massive bonuses over the first two years to achieve the functional protections realized by Campbell and Jordan. Exceeding those numbers entirely is going to take some hard work.