Yesterday we discussed the key metrics to look for when really valuing the Clay Matthews contract and now that the numbers are out per the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel we can put the numbers a bit in perspective compared to the Ware and Suggs contracts we focused on.
Despite the lofty totals of Matthew’s extension his contract is significantly less player friendly than the other contracts. First of all Matthews has $2.5 million tied up in per game roster bonuses, a major win for the Packers. Neither Mario Williams nor Julius Peppers, the two higher level defensive contracts, have such provisions nor do the Suggs and Ware contracts at the positions. In terms of cash flows here is how Matthews stacks up against Ware and Suggs:
The key numbers here are the 2 and 3 year totals. His two year takehome of $33.85 million pales in comparison to the $40 million made by Ware and Suggs. Its 15% less salary than those two players earned in their first two new money years. His 3 year takehome barely eclipses that of Suggs and falls short of Ware by $1.5 million and these numbers are assuming he plays all 16 games for the Packers. It is really the backend of the contract in year 4 and 5 where he pulls away from Ware and Suggs in pay. As is often the case in the NFL these backend salaries are rarely earned and nothing more than fluff in a contract.
That brings us to functional guarantees. I stated in yesterdays piece that Ware had a functional guarantee of $40 million while Suggs had one worth $48.3 million. There was a strong probability that Ware would earn $45 million and Suggs just over $54 million. Here is how Matthew’s contract plays out:
The only year of the extension fully protected by dead money is the first year of the deal, though with such minimal savings I would consider year 2 protected as well. That would make the functional guarantee similar to Ware’s in that it only lasts two seasons. By year 3 he becomes fair game if the play declines badly. I fool around at times with a number you see on the site called a CSC ratio which is the cap savings plus cash savings divided by the cap hit for a player. Basically it tells you if you gain something positive with a cut and once the ratio goes over 1 the power sways towards the team. Matthews is at a 1.11 by year 3 of his deal, while Ware was at 0.66. Suggs was in negative terms due to the lack of cap savings associated with a cut at the time. In Year 4 Ware jumped to a 1.2 and Suggs didn’t reach close to Matthews’ Year 3 number until the 6th year of his contract. In terms of protection Matthews’ deal doesn’t rank close.
So while Matthews will go down as the player with the highest annual value at the position the contract itself is much more reflective of the downturn in the NFL market. In real terms he is earning less than both Ware and Suggs, and its actually pretty significant. He has almost no protection it would seem beyond 2015, the third extension year of his contract. The other players were far more protected. Maybe some new details emerge today regarding ways he can earn more protection or more money, but based on the initial reports Matthews is highest paid in name only, but in the key valuation points this is not the top of the market deal it appears to be.
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.