Breaking Down Mark Andrews $56 Million Contract Extension

The Ravens and tight end Mark Andrews agreed to a four year, $56 million contract extension Monday night which will make him, on paper, the third highest paid tight end in the NFL bit in reality the second highest paid tight end in the league. Per a league source with knowledge of the contract the breakdown is as follows.

In 2021, Andrews will receive a $10.163 million signing bonus along with a $920,000 salary, which is fully guaranteed. This is a raise of $7.5 million over Andrews’ prior $3.58 million salary (this includes a 17th game check Andrews would have earned). Andrews cap number should be $3.16 million.

In 2022, Andrews will receive a $15.5 million option bonus and a $3.5 million salary. Both are fully guaranteed at signing. The cap number in 2022 will be $9.4 million.

In 2023, Andrews will earn a salary of $7.5 million. The salary is guaranteed for injury and will be fully guaranteed in 2022. The cap number is $13.4M.

In 2024 and 2025, Andrews will earn $11 million in each season, split up between $7 million salaries and $4 million in roster bonuses. The roster bonuses will force a team to make an early decision on releasing  the player once the guarantees in a contract run out. In both years Andrews’ cap number will be $16.9 million.

Overall, it works out to $30.08 million guaranteed at signing and $37.8 million virtually guaranteed at signing due to the early vesting date on the 2023 salary. The full guarantee ranks third at the position behind Kyle Pitts and Jonnu Smith and the injury guarantee is second to only George Kittle. The four year length is stronger for Andrews than it is for Kittle.

While many are going to point to the guarantee as the big deal with the contract the real strength of this contract is in the cash flow schedule. Andrews will blow away the position when it comes to up front cash that is earned. Here is the cash flow schedule of the top tight end contracts in the NFL.

PlayerYear 0Year 1Year 2Year 3Year 4Year 5
George Kittle$18,000,000$21,700,000$33,750,000$46,000,000$60,000,000$75,000,000
Mark Andrews$7,500,000$26,500,000$34,000,000$45,000,000$56,000,000FA
Travis Kelce$4,250,000$11,750,000$25,000,000$40,000,000$57,250,000FA
Hunter Henry$17,000,000$27,000,000$37,500,000FAFA
Jonnu Smith$17,000,000$27,000,000$38,000,000$50,000,000FA

Andrews $26.5 million earned in the first new year of the contract is 22% higher than George Kittle’s which is a major jump. Even through year two Andrews will out-earn Kittle and will earn 36% more than Kelce which is why Andrews deal is far stronger than Kelce’s even if technically the annual value ranks below.

The first turn for the Ravens comes in year three when Andrews will drop slightly below Kittle and the gap between he and Kelce begins to shrink. He will fall a full $1M per year under Kittle if both make it to the fourth season and Andrews would have a chance in free agency or on an extension to catch up to or make out better than Kittle over the long term.

The Ravens have done contracts like this in the past where they commit very big amounts up front and in return do not set a new market high for a player. Here are a few examples of the way have utilized this concept.

Player% of Contract Paid 1st Year% of 3Y Cash Paid 1st Year
Marcus Peters48.8%48.8%
Mark Andrews47.3%58.9%
Kevin Zeitler44.4%44.4%
Ronnie Stanley42.3%65.5%
Marlon Humphrey39.0%63.1%

The cases are similar to Andrews’. Stanley is the 4th highest paid left tackle but earned the most in the first year. Humphrey is the 2nd highest paid corner but earns far more than the top salaried player by APY in the first year and is tops at the position. Peters is 9th in APY and 8th in 1st year cash while also being a rare player signed to a three year deal.

Andrews cash salary also far outpaces the alternative of the franchise tag. We project the tag to be around $10.7M for tight ends next year. Had he gone year to year Andrews would have been in line to earn $23.5 million by the end of 2023, none of which would have been guaranteed. He will earn more than two tags by the end of 2022 and $11.5M more by the end of 2023. A third tag would never be in play for a tight end.

When you look at the numbers in this manner the Ravens need Andrews to play through at least the 2024 season on the contract and most likely need this to wind up a true four year contract to get strong value out of the deal. That doesn’t make this a bad contract for the Ravens it just makes it a contract one they need to be right about.

For those curious about any outs in the contract if things went sideways the first real out year is 2024 when the dead money drops to $11.8 million. Even a trade the year before that would result in over $17.5 million in dead money. Andrews has $4 million roster bonuses in the 2024 and 2025 “out years” to ensure an early release if the Ravens needed to move on.