Jason Fitzgerald

Jason is the founder of overthecap.com. Jason is considered an expert in NFL salary cap and contracts analysis and has consulted on many projects in the field of NFL contracts. He is a contributor to the Sporting News and has been interviewed by many news outlets to discuss contract related issues for specific teams and players.

Recent Posts by Jason

David Johnson to Holdout for New Contract

We’ve heard of a few players holding out this offseason and David Johnson of the Arizona Cardinals is the next on the list. Johnson is entering the final year of his contract and scheduled to make around $1.9 million this season. Johnson is a dynamic player who broke out in 2016 when he rushed for over 1,200 yards while catching 80 passes for another 800+ yards while being named All Pro. Though Johnson looked poised to be the next superstar at the position, he missed almost the entire 2017 season with a wrist injury.

As far as hold outs go this is a good decision for Johnson. He hasn’t made a large amount of money in his career (around $2.2 million) and plays a position where fame disappears with the snap of a finger. Arizona is a team that really has been in a bit of a retooling phase for the last few seasons and with the change in coaches, retirement of Carson Palmer, drafting of Josh Rosen and signing of stop gap Sam Bradford it may be a long season. Johnson could run the risk of being run into the ground by a team that needs a playmaker or look ineffective in an offense with so much uncertainty at QB.

Despite the fact that free agency is often the gold mine for most players I hesitate to give it the same marks for a running back. Though the 49ers stunned the NFL with a somewhat absurd contract for Jerick McKinnon, free agency has more or less sputtered out around $6 million or so a season. While Johnson’s 2016 campaign would certainly earn him more than that the fact is he didnt play in 2017 and only had 125 carries as a rooke. If Johnson were to struggle or look more normal the big money probably wont magically appear elsewhere as teams will point to just one good season that happened a few years ago. Johnson is also not as young as teams like in free agency as he will turn 27 at the end of this season. I would not anticipate that the multiple franchise tag option is a realistic possibility the way it is for other players.

The biggest money, or at least equivalent money, for Johnson probably comes from the Cardinals right now. The memory is still fresh of 2016 and he is currently the most dynamic player on a team that needs that kind of talent. This is really the perfect situation for a hold out as its a situation where both sides probably need each other.

The only thing with this hold out is that Johnson needs to be realistic about his value. The CBA allows players to hold out until a month before the first game of the season without losing an accrued season. A player needs four accrued seasons to be an unrestricted free agent so holding out for too long would cause Johnson to be stuck at three accrued years and only be eligible for restricted free agency.  That would be detrimental to any long term financial benefits so that is why the hold out needs to start now with a finite end date set for early August. To get a deal done in that timeframe the two sides cant be so far apart that no deal can get done. That defeats the purpose especially if the team does fine the player for any missed time. If the end game is similar to what LeVeon Bell would like then the hold out is probably a pointless one.

Devonta Freeman of the Falcons signed for $8.25 million a year last summer and is probably the player to work off of. Freeman did not have a season as strong as Johnsons 2016, but had a more consistent overall career and is younger. Both were mid round draft picks. The Cardinals have done a few generous contracts in the recent past (namely the Tyrann Mathieu and Jermaine Gresham contracts) that could help boost the value and there can be some argument to be made that the McKinnon deal has some foundation to it but I’d imagine all of that leads to upside offers in the $9 million per year range. You can get creative with back end money that probably wont be earned to boost the APY if need be, but I would not anticipate a market buster (though Ive certainly been wrong on that front plenty of times before).

So we’ll see where this ends up but as a hold out this makes sense and my guess is that a deal should get done that makes both sides happy.

June 2 Salary Cap Changes

June 2nd has finally arrived which means the accounting rules change for the remainder of the NFL season. The NFL calendar, for accounting purposes, is essentially split into two seasons. The first runs through June 1st. During that time any future prorated money is accelerated into the current year (2018) when a player is released. The second runs from June 2 to the end of the league year. During this time any player released will have any future prorated money accelerate into the next year (2019). What that means is that unless a player has guaranteed money in his contract any player released from a multi year contract will create more cap space than they would have yesterday.

A few teams used a special rule that allows you to designate a player a post June 1 cut before June 1. The caveat is that the team has to carry the full cap charge until June 1. Now that we are at June 2, those teams will gain some much needed cap space. The following teams are the ones who gained cap room. (more…)

Julio Jones, “Updated” Contracts, and Contract Decisions

It was just three years ago that Julio Jones agreed to a five year contract extension worth $14.25 million a season with the Falcons and now he is looking for an “update” to his contract, despite having three years remaining on the contract. I think it’s a good situation to examine and a good illustration as to why some players should consider thinking outside the box when it comes to contracts. (more…)

Thoughts on Matt Ryan’s New Contract

The numbers are in for Matt Ryan via a report at PFT and his $150 million contract certainly would seem to be the new benchmark for just about every reasonable metric, so lets take a look at the deal. (more…)

First Round Option Decisions

The option deadline is fast approaching for the 2015 draft picks so let’s take a look back at the first round picks and how they are faring thus far in their NFL careers and what option decisions may happen if they havent been exercised already. (more…)

Jason Witten to Retire

Edit: After publishing this I had a league source reach out to me to clarify that this is a unique situation and that there should be no dead money for Witten due to the structure of the bonus payment. We will officially know the answer after he is placed on the retirement list but Dallas should get a full credit in 2018 on the cap.

Cowboys star tight end Jason Witten is apparently going to retire from the NFL and head to ESPN to work as a lead announcer on Monday Night Football, a position that was rumored to be headed to another tight end, Greg Olsen, a few days ago before Olsen received a new contract from the Panthers. I had a few questions on Twitter about Witten’s contract so I wanted to share my opinions on what will happen now. (more…)

NFL Spending Per Position

The draft is here so I thought it would be helpful to put together a spending chart for each team to help see areas where teams might overvalue a player based on need or bypass a player based on perceived roster strength. For each roster I looked at the top 53 contracts and using the annual contract value of the most recent contract for the player calculated the team’s investment per position. The position is what we have in our database and there could be some movement if there is a defensive shift or player changing position, but they should be pretty accurate. We do still have a few contracts outstanding that could move the numbers a little bit but nothing significant. Here is the breakdown for each team (clicking on the header should sort the tables).