As usual it has been a busy few days leading up to kickoff as teams usually make their last big push to extend players before setting aside negotiations until later in the year and the latest big name to get it done is AJ Green of the Bengals. I’ve always been intrigued by how the Bengals would approach this contract since Green is the first true premier player they have had since Carson Palmer and was going to warrant a contract unlike any other the Bengals signed. Mike Florio of PFT already has all the details and the Bengals certainly went the premier route with Green in this mega deal.
Green’s contract is worth slightly more than Julio Jones contract that was signed a few weeks ago with Atlanta. Green bests Jones in cash flows in every year of the contract so this is not a backend money jump used to overinflate the contract value. The contract also sets a new high water mark in the three year contract metric for wide receivers with $47.824 million coming in the first three years.
Green received a $15 million roster bonus according to Florio, which is the same as a signing bonus for cap purposes. This is because of a rule that prorates roster bonuses when added to a contract following the completion of the preseason. This is actually a more player friendly mechanism because it is only subject to forfeiture in 2015 unlike a signing bonus which is subject to partial forfeiture at any point in the contract. Among recent extensions the $15 million is a big bonus. That is $3 million more than Jones and $4 million more than Demaryius Thomas. It does trail Dez Bryant’s by $5 million. That bonus should offer significant protection from release.
Jones did not receive any injury guarantees in his contract which is the one concession made for the high APY. The other players have massive injury guarantees that vest on certain dates. The Bengals did not deviate from their standard contract practice of a second year roster bonus and no future guarantees. That being said this is the new big contract on the market and here is the cash flow comp with the other big players.
I recently made the comment on Twitter that this was the first year in which teams seem to be acknowledging the recent cap increases in some of these deals and the receiver market is clearly almost catching up to Calvin Johnsons insane deal signed with Detroit in 2012.
But I have to think that this now caps the market for the next 3 years. This group of players is very different than the last group that signed mega contracts. That group which consisted of Mike Wallace, Percy Harvin, and Dwayne Bowe were not true top tier talents, specifially Wallace and Harvin. These players now are the best of the best. It will likely be at least three years before a group of players that is as good or better than this are actually eligible for extensions.
So while some positions are clearly growing I think we can officially put a lid on the WR market. Second tier players may climb but I have a feeling Johnsons contract is safe until the Lions renegotiate it or release him in a few years.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.