Nick Bosa Not Reporting to Camp

49ers star EDGE Nick Bosa is not reporting to training camp as the two sides are working on trying to complete a “complex” contract extension. By not attending camp Bosa does risk significant fines. The fines for missing camp for a player on the 5th year option are $40,000 per day plus one weeks salary for each preseason game missed, which for Bosa would be $949,389. The 49ers have the right to waive the fines which would be likely if an extension is reached.

Bosa’s contract is likely more complex because of the Rams modified contract for Aaron Donald. Donald’s annual value is $31.67 million per year which is a massive leap from TJ Watt’s $28 million per year contract extension that he signed in 2021 with the Steelers. The 13% market jump is out of the norm for recent contracts on the defensive side of the ball and pushes the baseline much higher. Here are the most recent market movers (multi year contracts only) I can recall on the defensive side of the football:

Mario Williams2012$16,000,0006.7%
JJ Watt2014$16,666,6674.2%
Ndamukong Suh2015$19,062,50014.4%
Von Miller2016$19,083,3330.1%
Khalil Mack2018$23,500,00023.1%
Myles Garrett2020$25,000,0006.4%
Joey Bosa2020$27,000,0008.0%
TJ Watt2021$28,002,7503.7%
Aaron Donald2022$31,666,66713.1%

This works out to an average of about 9% but there are a few exceptions in there that I am sure the 49ers would bring up. The Khalil Mack extension was by far the biggest jump but it did involve a traded players contract and also represented a two year delay between the market increase. If that contract was replaced by Aaron Donald’s $22.5 million extension, more or less agreed to on the same day, the max we would see is an 18% jump by a player. The Suh contract was a team bidding (probably against themselves) in free agency. Take those out and it brings it much more in line with Joey Bosa’s 8% raise.

The other issue that could exist is the real value of these contracts. While the Donald contract is worth $31.7 million the primary jump in salary comes in the final year of that contract when Donald will be 33 and nothing in that year is guaranteed. Donald had reportedly been contemplating retirement. The two year APY on that contract is exactly $30 million per year. TJ Watt’s contract APY through three years is at $30.3M and that is on a four year deal which is probably much more relevant to the negotiation. The point being that Watt’s contract is much more the comp contract for most of the metrics even if there is some bump needed to hit the $32 million a year number to technically put Bosa over Donald. A typical market move over Watt would put the contract in the ballpark of $30M per year in new money.

Watt’s contract is also a four year deal whereas J. Bosa is on a five year contract, which is likely the preferred length by the 49ers. That should, in theory, be one of the reasons Bosa got a larger percentage increase in contract than Watt did. If we took a similar 8% increase on N. Bosa’s contract and applied it to Watt’s cash flows we would come up with the following new money running numbers:

YearRunning CashAPY

In this case the contract would easily surpass Donald’s three year value of $95 million but I threw in a fifth year to get the APY over Donald’s three year number. I have no idea if San Francisco would be agreeable to that as it would be a massive year five salary to accomplish that. They might be willing to do that with a sixth year but not a fifth year.

I think the more difficult scenarios would include applying a $32 million base and using Watt’s cash flows which would look as follows:

YearRunning CashAPY

That type of deal in no way resembles Donald’s even though the APY is just slightly higher though I guess it might be workable especially if they could add another year at a flat cost.

A much more difficult scenario would be a 13% raise to Donald’s APY rather than an 8% raise to Watt’s numbers and using Watt’s contract as the baseline for cash structure. In that scenario you are looking at a contract that averages between $35 and $36 million a year. Those numbers might look something like this.

YearRunning CashAPY

. I think those kind of numbers would be a non-starter for the 49ers because they just don’t resemble any contract structure that currently exists in the NFL for a non-QB.

What’s Next for the Franchise Players

The franchise tag deadline has come and gone and for the three tagged running backs- Saquon Barkley, Josh Jacobs, and Tony Pollard- and I had a few questions in the inbox about what are the rules now for each of the players and what are the options the teams have. So hopefully this post can shed some light on what can and can not happen next.

The main thing that applies to the three players is that they are now prevented from signing a long term contract with a team. The CBA contains an obscure rule that prevents franchise players from receiving long term deals if they do not sign by the July deadline. This rule was essentially put in place to avoid any meaningful holdouts from players who were tagged that would drag into training camp and/or the regular season. So even though Barkley and Jacobs are clearly upset that the teams did not put their best foot forward there is limited long term options that exist for the players in 2023, though there are potential short term ones.

While the CBA limits the ability to extend the players beyond 2023 it does not prevent the teams and players from agreeing to a different valued one year contract. It could be a raise over the franchise tag. It could be the inclusion of a no tag provision for 2024. It could be a willingness to pay almost all of the contract up front in the form of a signing bonus. So if Jacobs and Barkley do not report to camp they could have some minor leverage to do a contract modification from the existing franchise tender amount. Teams could not use void years, however, to delay any of the charges.

So what are the next steps for the players? Pollard is in a different situation than Barkley and Jacobs so Ill discuss him first. Pollard wisely signed his tender back in March to lock in his $10.091 million salary for the year. That means Pollard is under contract for the year and has to report to training camp at the same time as the rest of the Dallas Cowboys. For the most part once he signed that tender it was going to be a longshot that Dallas would actually negotiate for a longer term contract.

Neither Jacobs nor Barkley signed their tender. They are under no obligation to report to training camp. They can not be fined the way Pollard would be and can hold out pretty much until the regular season without financial penalty. Once the regular season hits the players will need to make a decision. They can report to the team at that time, guarantee their $10.091 million salaries (or whatever salaries they can get the team to agree to), and play the season as normal or they can continue to hold out. They can not be traded unless they sign the tender.

This hold out though does carry financial ramifications. The player would be forfeiting his weekly salary for each game he misses- $560,611 per week. That is not money the player is likely to make up ever. While it is possible that the teams could up the contract to cover games missed there are really only a very narrow set of circumstances where that would make sense for the team. Basically there is no way the team would consider such a raise under two extremes- the teams starts off very good (they dont need the player to be better) or really bad (what difference will it really make at that point. Even if the team is average it would depend on how the team looks. Really the only situation where a forced raise would happen in season would be if the team was slightly below average and the offense had a number of question marks. Maybe the team could be convinced that they need the RB to stabilize the offense and salvage a possible playoff spot.

The players can continue to hold out with the opportunity to report through the 10th week of the season. On the Tuesday following the 10th week the player is no longer allowed to play in the NFL this season. The teams would still hold the rights to the players and would then have to decide if they wanted to tag them again as the tag does not automatically toll. If the team designates them a franchise player in 2024 the compensation drops from two first rounders to a first round and a third round pick. If they are not tagged they become a free agent.

From a salary cap standpoint the teams will hold the full $10.091 million salary cap charge even if the player does not report to the team. For each game he misses the cap charge will be reduced in season by $560,611 until it zeroes out once the season is over.

In both cases the team can withdraw the tender at any point. That would immediately free up $10.091 million on the cap since the salary is not guaranteed until the tender is accepted by the player. If that happened Barkley and Jacobs would become free agents. The players would be free and clear to negotiate with anyone on any type of deal. The teams would not receive any compensatory draft consideration if they did that. I would imagine that is a long shot though it is a threat a team could make to the players since there is no guarantee either would make that kind of salary as a free agent this year.

If the players do choose to accept the tender as Pollard did and they do not receive a no tag provision they can be tagged again next year and will face the same situation about a long term deal. The minimum salary they would earn on a 2nd tag if they accepted the 2023 tender before the start of the regular season would be $12.109 million in 2024. The $22.2M salary over two years would be well under the going rate for running backs who signed extensions at $10+M a year over the last few years.

Thoughts on Saquon Barkley’s Contract Situation

Giants running back Saquon Barkley’s name made the rounds today when a report by Dianna Russini indicated that he would hold out into the regular season if the Giants did not sign him to a long term contract.

Barkley is in a difficult position when it comes to the franchise tag and makes for a great example of some of the problems related to the current CBA. Barkley’s current salary for the year is $10.091 million, a number that really should have been much higher had the CBA been modified for a bad oversight on the application of the option year salary. Barkley’s total compensation (this includes bonus proration) in 2021 was $10.02 million. Under almost any other tender the league calls for a minimum of a 20% raise from the prior year salary but I don’t think anyone ever did the math to realize that the higher end options, which are pegged to the transition and franchise tags, did not call for a 20% raise. Barkley’s compensation dropped in 2022 to $7.2 million rather than rising to $12 million and subsequently having a franchise tag in 2023 worth $14.4 million. His predicament is also a major example of why rookie contracts need to be shorter in length as too many players lose their main earning years under the threat of the franchise tag.

Holding out into the regular season (holding out of the preseason makes sense) for Barkley serves almost zero purpose. For each game he misses he forfeits $560,611 in salary. Sitting out for the full year does not guarantee him free agency either. The Giants still would have the right to tag Barkley again. While the compensation would no longer be two first round picks it would still be too high for another team to sign him. To guarantee free agency he would need to sit for two years.

It would also do almost nothing to help this year. The period for franchise players to sign long term deals is this upcoming Monday, July 17th. The reason for this date is to basically end any drama going into training camp and strip the players of any leverage that they might obtain by holding out. While holding out could get him a slight raise for this year or a no tag provision my opinion is that a regular season holdout would have little impact on that.

We are no longer in the days of the NFL where an owner/GM is going to see Emmitt Smith on the sidelines, see his team 0-2 and completely flip the script. If Daniel Jones doesn’t play well and the team is 0-2 or 0-3, the front office isn’t going to panic and think they can salvage the season with Barkley. I’d argue in most scenarios Barkley would gain no leverage for this years salary with a holdout. His only  real leverage at all would be in the preseason but again we are not talking major contract changes at that point.

The Giants do still have the right to rescind the tag but that would make little sense. It would be a PR nightmare for them to do that and they would receive no compensation when he signed elsewhere. For Barkley’s side it would be doubtful that he would receive an offer that would match the franchise tag but if the Giants actually threatened it I would give it little chance of happening.

Barkley is likely stuck between wanting the old high end market (Christian McCaffrey, Todd Gurley, Ezekial Elliot, David Johnson, etc…) which was a disaster for all the teams that signed the player and the current market which is more reflective of the importance of and the risk related to the running back position. According to PFT, Barkley turned down a contract that would have paid him $26M over the first two years of the contract which would average $13 million a year. That is clearly in line with the current market.

Here is the breakdown of the older high end deals

PlayerYear 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Christian McCaffrey$27,863,412$39,863,412$51,863,412$64,063,412
Ezekiel Elliott$24,700,000$37,100,000$48,000,000$58,000,000
Todd Gurley$28,050,022$37,050,022$47,050,022$58,500,000
David Johnson$18,750,000$30,000,000$39,000,000FA

Now here are the contracts that are more representative of the market.

PlayerYear 1Year 2Year 3Year 4
Alvin Kamara$15,700,000$27,200,000$38,200,000$50,000,000
Derrick Henry$15,000,000$25,500,000$37,500,000$50,000,000
Nick Chubb$13,550,000$24,400,000$36,600,000FA
Joe Mixon$18,816,795$27,516,795$37,616,795$48,000,000
Aaron Jones$14,250,000$20,000,000$36,000,000$48,000,000

You can see the massive discrepancy between the players who were on those legitimate massive running back contracts and those in the $12 million type range.

Is $26 million over two years a fair offer from the Giants?  I’d say it’s more of a starting point then what seems to be described as a take it or leave it offer. My assumption is they simply pegged the number to the Henry deal, but there is no reason why he should not be above the Kamara/Mixon numbers. Still those numbers are a massive departure from the CMC and Zeke numbers that are $37-$39M paid in the same timeframe. That’s a deep divide and one you aren’t going to negotiate around if you have no leverage.

If Barkley were guaranteed free agency next year it would still be hard to make an argument that he would earn back what he would be giving up this year. Free agency has been a disaster for running backs but Barkley is unique so I can’t say for certain that he would get that same treatment. Still the only running back to move the needle in free agency was Le’Veon Bell who sat out a second tag worth $14.5 million and wound up signing with the Jets for the same $14.5 million salary the following season but they did fully guarantee him $27 million. The Jets were bidding against themselves on that deal and Barkley could lock in that same number right now.

Ultimately it is just hard to make a case that turning down a Giants deal makes sense for him even if it is well under what the players were earning a few years ago. I can understand turning it down on emotions but the rules are heavily weighed against the players in situations like this. It is the best of all his options that include playing on the tag or sitting out the tag only to face the same situation next year or the total disaster scenario of sitting out two years.  

Jaguars Create $5.1M in Cap Space

The Jaguars restructured the contract of S Rayshawn Jenkins, converting $6.42 million of his salary into a signing bonus. To maximize the savings the Jaguars added three void years to the contract. The move dropped Jenkins’ 2023 salary cap number from $10.5 million to $5.364 million, a savings of $5.136 million.

Jenkins 2024 salary cap number will rise by $1.284 million from $11 million to $12.284 million and his dead money now increased by $5.136 million if the Jaguars decided to go in a different direction next year. If his contract voids in 2025 the Jaguars will have a $3.852 million cap charge in that season.

2023 Released Player Tracker

I thought for this year I would put together a running post that listed the players who have officially been released by their teams and take a look at the financials of their contracts. This is to just get an idea of how much was earned relative to the actual contract value and the new guarantee in the contract, which I think helps illustrate how inflated contract totals can be and how important the guarantee was or was not for each player. For players who were on multiple teams the numbers will include earnings from the prior team(s).

NameTeamsYearsTotalAPYNew Full GuaranteeEarned% Earned% Played
Derek CarrRaiders3$121,422,481$40,474,160$5,022,481$5,122,4814.2%0.0%
Carson WentzEagles/Colts/Commanders4$128,000,000$32,000,000$39,600,000$79,201,05861.9%50.0%
Robert WoodsRams/Titans4$65,000,000$16,250,000$2,205,882$18,000,00027.7%25.0%
Taylor LewanTitans5$80,000,000$16,000,000$24,659,000$61,747,23577.2%80.0%
Zach CunninghamTitans3$33,000,000$11,000,000$8,250,000$8,338,23525.3%33.3%
Marcus MariotaFalcons2$18,750,000$9,375,000$6,750,000$6,750,00036.0%50.0%
Michael BrockersLions3$24,000,000$8,000,000$11,000,000$14,000,00058.3%66.7%
Bobby McCainCommanders2$10,000,000$5,000,000$4,700,000$5,580,00055.8%50.0%
Al-Quadin MuhammadBears2$8,000,000$4,000,000$3,300,000$3,929,41249.1%50.0%
Randy BullockTitans2$4,680,000$2,340,000$2,320,000$2,522,94153.9%50.0%

Explaining the Post June 1 Designation

One of the more misunderstood rules of the NFL offseason is the application of and salary cap treatment of the post June 1 designation for a player who is being released. Hopefully this post can work as a primer of sorts for the offseason to help better discuss the options in front of a team.

When a player is cut from a team around the start of free agency the calculation is pretty straightforward. All future prorated money and salary guarantees accelerate onto the salary cap and become what is referred to as “dead money” for a team. In some cases the number can be very large, so large that it is prohibitive to release the player due to salary cap purposes.

To help fight back against basically having black hole roster spots created by the cap the NFL created a distinction in how a release is treated if made after June 1st in any given year. Starting on June 2nd any player who is released will have any future prorations land in the following season (the guarantees would still accelerate) rather than the current season. This can have a dramatic impact on the cap charge.

For example lets say a player has four years remaining on his contract and $5 million in prorated charges in each of those seasons. If he was cut prior to June 1 that would lead to $20 million in dead money this year. If cut after June 1 the player would instead have just $5 million in dead money in 2023 and now $15 million in 2024. While still the same number over two seasons the team has an out rather than being stuck due to the salary cap.

Still this requires a team to carry a player until June on the roster. During that time the player may earn an option bonus, roster bonus, workout bonus, etc…increasing his dead money and making the June 1 worthless. This is what lead to the NFL’s creation of the Post June 1 designation. What a team is allowed to do is declare a player a post June 1 cut and get the benefit of the June 1st salary cap treatment while also avoiding any offseason payments or guarantees from kicking in.

That being said there is a catch to this rule and this is often overlooked. The team has to carry a player at his full salary cap charge until June 1st even though he has been released from his contract. So the dead money split does not occur in March. It does not help the team create cap room for free agents. It simply gives the team more cap room to use during the rookie signing period and to function when cap accounting expands from 51 players in the offseason to the full roster during the season.

Because of this treatment we usually look for specific traits in a player contract or team situation in order to use a June 1 designation. The main trait is that the players salary cap number and dead money have to be pretty similar for there to be any real benefit. For example Andrus Peat of the Saints has a salary cap charge of $18.371 million in 2023 if he is on the roster. It would be $16.984 million if the Saints cut him which basically creates no cap room. That is an ideal contract structure for a June 1 designation. The Saints don’t really lose anything during free agency by carrying the full cap number and then on June 2nd his cap would drop to $6.5 million with $10.5 million deferred to 2024, giving the Saints plenty of space to sign rookies and function during the season. The Saints salary cap situation is so bad that having that added space for the season may also be needed to function.

A less beneficial use of the June 1 would be on a player like Adam Thielen of the Vikings. He has a salary cap number of $19.97 million. If he was cut in the offseason it would leave the Vikings with $13.55 million creating $6.4 million in cap room they can use toward becoming salary cap compliant and/or in free agency during the year. If designated a post June 1 cut, the team would carry $19.97 million all through free agency and then have it split to $6.55 million in 2023 and $7.0 million in 2024. While you never say never to such a move, for a team that probably wants to be active in free agency it might be better to realize the savings in March rather than in the summer.

The post June 1 designation can only be used on two players in a given year. Because of that the most ideal candidates would be those who have guarantees that vest or roster bonuses that are paid in the first week of March. While teams rarely use both designations if you did have a decision to make that would be a main priority for who you use it on. If a player does not have any guarantees that vest the team could simply carry the player on the roster until June 2nd and then cut him. That is the nasty side of the NFL rules but those dates give teams leverage and it is a big reason why more players should look for roster bonuses due in March to prevent that.

The post June 1 does not help a team become salary cap compliant in any possible way. We already discussed that the cap savings don’t occur until June 2nd, but you also have to keep the player on the roster through the first day of free agency. He can be released once the new league year begins but before that date he has to be on the 90 man roster. To be eligible he can not have his contract altered once the prior regular season ends. That is to prevent a team from artificially lowering the carry cost of the contract from March through June 1.

The final thing is that there is no such thing as a post June 1 trade designation. The Packers can not trade Aaron Rodgers in March and declare it a post June 1 trade to break up the salary cap charges across the 2023 and 2024 league years. If Green Bay needed to split the cost (Rodgers costs more on the cap to trade than keep) they would have to find a team willing to delay processing any trade for Rodgers until June 2nd. If they trade him before that date there is no other option but to take all of the dead money in 2023.

So to summarize- You can only use the post June 1 on two players per roster, not on an infinite number of players. The salary cap benefit of the June 1 is not realized during free agency and is used to create cap room for summer and in season needs. There is no post June 1 trade designation available to any team.

Packers Create $16.1 Million in Salary Cap Space

The Green Bay Packers have restructured the contracts of CB Jaire Alexander and EDGE Preston Smith according to Tom Silverstein of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, creating $16.1 million in salary cap space for the Packers.

The team took a similar approach to both restructures by converting roster bonuses and almost all base salary over the minimum to a signing bonus and adding a voidable contract year for salary cap purposes. In both cases the Packers left the workout bonuses and per game bonuses untouched in the contract. This would likely be because that is salary that can easily be forfeited by a player if he is hurt or fails to attend the majority of offseason workouts.

The team ultimately converted $11.82 million of Alexander’s compensation for 2023 into a signing bonus, lowering his salary cap number by $9.456 million to $10.755 million. Alexander’s salary cap figure will rise by $2.364 million in each remaining season of his contract including the newly added void year. The restructure increases the dead money to $27.456 million in 2024 which should effectively guarantee his roster spot next year despite having no guarantees that year. The dead money impact drops to $19 million in 2025.

Smith had $8.3 million of his salary converted to a signing bonus, lowering his cap number by $6.64 million to $6.4 million in 2023. His cap figure in each remaining contract year will increase by $1.66 million. His dead money will increase in 2024 by $6.4 million to $13.96 million if released. These restructures are often riskier with older players like Smith because sometimes the salary cap space that is created winds up all hitting the following season as age catches up with the player.

The two restructures have put the Packers under the cap for 2023, leaving them with approximately $6.4 million in cap room. While that would not be enough space to trade Aaron Rodgers away the team does have more levers they can pull to create cap room. Silverstein mentioned the team may be working on an extension for Kenny Clark and a possible contract modification for David Bakhtiari. The other players that could save some cap room for the team via restructures are Rashan Gary ($7.85 million), Darnell Savage ($5.5 million) and Rasul Douglas ($3.4 million). Gary and Savage are in the final year of their rookie contracts and would need to either agree to add four void years for the Packers to realize any savings or sign an extension that lowers their cap hits.