Quick Thoughts on First Wave of Signings

Today was the first day of the “unofficial” free agency period in which agents can begin discussion with outside organizations. While no deals can be signed between players and new team’s, extensions are very common over the next few days. With a deadline of 4PM March 10, teams often put forth their best final pitch to a free agent. Player’s also should have a better idea of where they officially stand around the NFL over this talking period as they get a better feel of interest than they did at the combine. While we don’t have much in the way of specifics on the contracts let’s take a look at the general overview of the signings.

Randall Cobb, WR, Packers- 4 years, $40 million

This is a big number for Cobb, who has primarily been a slot receiver in his career. Prior to this contract the best real deal for a slot player was the Giant’s Victor Cruz coming in at $8.7 million a year. Cobb will also earn more than Jordy Nelson, by a few hundred thousand a year, which is a very good deal for him. Cobb is also young and the 4 year term will likely give him another chance for a big deal down the line. This deal is probably a sign that the Packers were afraid of losing Cobb if they played hardball to the deadline due to teams with increasingly large cap surpluses to spend. I’d consider this contract a strong sign overall for the receiver market and Jeremy Maclin in particular.

Kareem Jackson, CB, Texans- 4 years, $34 million, $14 million guaranteed

This contract sent shockwave around the NFL as two years ago a player like Jackson would have struggled to reach the $6 million a year mark, let alone a first year payment of $14 million. This is a thin group of cornerbacks and the Texans may have feared losing him because of that so they came in with a lucrative offer. If this is a sign of things to come then expect corner Byron Maxwell and safety Devin McCourty to get big money next week. However I do caution to take this deal cautiously as last season the Packers jumped the gun on a new contract with Sam Shields due to fear of losing him and as it turned out they overpaid considerably.

Derek Newton, RT, Texans- 5 years, $26.5 million, $10 million guaranteed

Though Newton had struggled through a good portion of his career he played well last season which helped him earn this contract. From an annual value persepctive this contract is below the top tier of the market (all at $6M or more) and kind of hits a mid point between the Breno Giacomini’s of the world and the top tier. That said the initial cash flows of $13.5 million over two years will track with the top tier, which I would imagine was a compromise on the lower APY. I’d consider this a pretty market neutral contract indicating minimal shifts from the past.

Doug Free, RT/G, Cowboys- 3 years, $15 million, $6 million guaranteed

I was a little surprised Dallas brought back Free only because it would have helped them slightly with their salary cap had they done this sooner. When they allowed his prior contract to void I assumed that the door was shut. From a football perspective this makes more sense than re-signing Jeremy Parnell who haa almost no track record whereas Free is a solid veteran. Based on the reported guarantee I would expect that Dallas can escape this deal after one season. The price is what was certainly expected for a veteran player.

Mark Ingram, RB, Saints- 4 years, $16 million

Many people asked me how the Saints can be over the cap and sign Ingram, but the cap isnt a concern until March 10 at 4PM. By then the Saints will have restructured a number of contracts to be under the cap. Bringing back Ingram was likely a sign that there was lukewarm interest in Ingram at a high price outside of New Orleans so it made sense to come back to the place where he began his career. I would not be shocked if the first year payout and guarantee match the $5.2M or so salary he would have earned if the Saints picked up the option year on him last year. This contract should be a sign that the Marshawn Lynch deal has no bearing on the market and that prices will remain unchanged from last season.

Brett Kern, P, Titans- 5 years, $15 million

This is one of those signings where people get caught up in the $15 million number for a punter, but from an annual value perspective this only rank’s 8th in the NFL. Kern gets a lot of use in Tennessee so I’d say the contract is well deserved.

McCoy for Alonso has Chip Kelly Singing Sister Hazel to Marcus Mariota

I was shocked to see that LeSean McCoy was traded to Buffalo for former Oregon Duck Kiko Alonso, but it’s a move that I think makes sense for both sides.

As Jason states in his article regarding this trade, this move is a major win for the Eagles in the sense that McCoy was set to have a cap hit of $11.95 million this year and if the cap is $143 million, that means that McCoy would have taken up 8.36% of their cap, which is about what Reggie Bush made in 2009 for the Saints as the second highest paid Super Bowl champion running back of the cap era, 8.61% of the $123 million cap that year. The highest paid Super Bowl champion running back was Emmitt Smith in 1995 with a salary of $3,400,600, 9.17% of that year’s cap of $37.1 million.

Due to Darren Sproles being on the books for $4.1 million in 2015, the Eagles had $20 million committed to the running back position group, which is 13.99% of the cap. That 1995 Dallas Cowboys backfield is the only Super Bowl backfield that cost more at $5,553,700, which was 14.97% of the 1995 salary cap.

The 1990s were a different era completely with Daryl “Moose”Johnston as their seventh highest cap charge at $1,402,900, which was 3.78% of the 1995 cap. Although Johnston was an extremely productive fullback with 359 total yards and three touchdowns, it’s a position that the Eagles don’t even have on their roster and production that they easily make up with tight ends and receivers. So comparatively, the Cowboys halfbacks cost 11.19% of the cap compared to the 13.99% that the 2015 Eagles were slated to spend.

But considering that Johnston was productive and had only ten less catches than Sproles had in 2014, let’s include him in this discussion. The Eagles 2015 backfield would have cost 93.45% of what the 1995 Cowboys backfield cost, so for arguments sake, all things being equal the Eagles would have had to produce 93.45% of what the Cowboys backfield produced. This doesn’t take into account that Michael Irvin and Troy Aikman, two Hall of Famers, had the best seasons of their careers in 1995. Nor does it take into account the defense that ranked third in the NFL in points allowed led by Hall of Famers Deion Sanders and Charles Haley.

Figure 1: 1995 Cowboys vs. 2015 Eagles (Click on the figures to enlarge them)

1995 Cowboys vs. 2015 Eagles RBs

Now, McCoy would have cost the Eagles 91.17% of what Smith cost the Cowboys, so I put together this figure to show what 2015 McCoy would have to produce to be at 91.17% of Smith’s stats that year. I also show what he did in 2014 and 2013, which was the best season of his career and resulted in only two less total yards than Smith’s 1995 season.

Figure 2: Emmitt Smith vs. LeSean McCoy

Smith vs. McCoy

Considering that Nick Foles, Marcus Mariota, Bryce Petty or whoever starts for Philadelphia isn’t going to be Troy Aikman, I think that the Eagles backfield of 2015 would have had to be better than the 93.45% that I stated above. I think that McCoy would have to be more like 2013 LeSean McCoy, which is similar to the 1995 Emmitt Smith outside of his insane touchdown production, but I don’t know if he can do that for a few reasons.

First, McCoy only cost the Eagles 4.01% of the salary cap in 2013, which, if that was the case in 2015, would allow the Eagles to build a stronger team around him. Second, with Darren Sproles taking up 2.87% of the cap, they’re expecting him to produce, thus taking away from McCoy’s production and because of this among his decline in play last season, I feel like Jason’s right when he mentions that he probably would have been asked to take a pay cut if they didn’t make this trade.

While the Eagles did have a lot of issues on the offensive line this season, they did have some strong players on the line. Their best line combination was Peters at left tackle, Evan Mathis at left guard, Jason Kelce at center, Andrew Gardner at right guard, and Johnson at right tackle. Mathis missed Weeks 2-9 and Kelce missed Weeks 4-9 with injuries, while Johnson missed Weeks 1-4 with a suspension for PEDs.

According to Pro Football Focus, Kelce had a 7.5 rating at center, Gardner had a 1.2 as a guard, Johnson was the second best right tackle in the NFL, Peters was the best left tackle, and Mathis was the best left guard. From Week 10 on, McCoy had all five of his best linemen and he performed well with 87 yards a game at a 4.56 average and four touchdowns. With Sproles bringing in 20 catches for 143 yards over the last eight games, McCoy only had eight catches for 61, which illustrates his reduced role in the passing game with Sproles.

A huge indicator for me is that he went from the best rated running back in football in 2013 according to PFF, to the third worst rated back in 2014. This was indicative of what I saw when I watched him, he didn’t look like the same player as the guy in 2013 and he didn’t look comfortable in the offense this year, always seeming to look for home runs rather than taking what he was given. While I think he can rebound in 2014, he was nowhere near worth 8.36% of the Eagles cap, when they have other needs to fill and could easily replace him with this deep running back draft.

I think a change of scenery will do him well and that cap number will be better utilized in Buffalo with Rex Ryan. While McCoy excelled in Chip Kelly’s offense in 2013, I think the Ryan’s ground and pound style that utilizes the fullback will better suit McCoy’s style. McCoy was drafted by the previous regime and Andy Reid uses the fullback. According to PFF, going back to 2009, the starting fullback for the Jets played 355 snaps a season, while the starting fullback for Reid’s teams played 313 snaps a year. McCoy will be back in his comfort zone as this is also more similar to the offense he ran at Pittsburgh in college.

In 2009, Thomas Jones had over 1402 yards and 14 touchdowns, which are numbers I could see McCoy eclipsing. Brandon Spikes played well last year with Alonso out and Nigel Bradham and Preston Brown played well on the outside. The Bills were fourth in the NFL in points allowed and yards allowed and they did it without Alonso. I think that Rex decided to ensure he had a top-flight runner for the first time in his career as a head coach. If Shonn Greene can run for 1000-yards twice in Ryan’s ground-and-pound offense, what can McCoy do?

Like Jason said, McCoy will now take up one-third of the Bills projected cap room and should rework his contract for more cap relief as he’ll be 27 at the start of this season. Since none of the money in 2016-17 is guaranteed for McCoy and he’ll be 30 the next time he’s projected to hit free agency, it’s in his best interest to rework a deal with another year or two on the back end.

On the Eagles side, my first thought was that I’d really like to see them take Melvin Gordon in the first round, but was is everything that they’re doing right now posturing to set themselves up for Mariota…?

Could they trade the Jets something along the lines of Nick Foles, this year’s first rounder, next year’s first rounder and a second rounder to get him?

Considering how well Mariota knows the offense and his talents, I think it’d be a good move for the Eagles and Mariota as we can at least project him better in Philly than anywhere else and he will hit the ground running as he won’t have to learn a new offense.

With all the cap space the Eagles have and the solid team they have right now, I think the writing is on the wall for a deal like the one I just threw out there. The biggest thing for the Eagles right now is ensuring that Mariota will be available where they’re looking to deal.

Their four biggest needs are at cornerback, safety, outside linebacker and now running back. Since they keep going down to Houston to sign away Texans, I could see them getting Kareem Jackson to play corner and/or Brooks Reed to play outside linebacker. It’s a pretty deep outside linebacker group and considering the amount of money they’ll have to spend, they have their pick of a group that includes the Ravens Pernell McPhee, who was the second best 3-4 OLB according to PFF, Jason Worilds and Arthur Moats from Pittsburgh, and the brother of Eagles’ linebacker Emmanuel Acho, Sam.

The big get this offseason for safeties is Devin McCourty and the Eagles would be wise to go after him with the cap space they have. At corner, I would go after Jackson like I said above and Bryon Maxwell would be a great pick up. I could go on and on with predictions, but the real story is that the Eagles now have $40 million in cap space and they could get $6.9 million more by releasing DeMeco Ryans after this deal as they now have Mychal Kendricks (the sixth best ILB in the NFL last year by PFF), Kiko Alonso (the ninth best in 2013), Brad Jones is a great back up and they could resign Casey Matthews at a reasonable price.

So this deal for Alonso could allow them to open up around $18 million worth of cap space when it’s all said and done. That’s what great organizations do.

Mark my words…Chip Kelly is going to get the quarterback that he calls the best he’s ever coached. The quarterback position is too important for the Eagles not to get Mariota now that they’ve set themselves up as well as they have. If you can trade away a quarterback your staff isn’t confident in, two first rounders and a second rounder for the pick that will secure the player you see as the face of your franchise for the next 15 years, you do that. And from the Jets standpoint, with everything they need, it’s a good deal for them. Nick Foles is a good quarterback and I think he’ll fit well with what they’re trying to do offensively.

So with that…take it away Sister Hazel!

I hope you enjoyed some of the Super Bowl stats and analysis that I started the article off with. I’ve been working with Jason to put together our First Annual Caponomics book that will be done in May where we analyze the 21 Super Bowl winners of the salary cap era and create theories based off of the data provided. We then use that data to analyze what teams did right and wrong in 2014 and will do that on an annual basis. If you’re interested in purchasing this book when it comes out or pre-ordering it once we get the link ready, please e-mail me at zackamoore@gmail.com. Let me know if you have any questions if you’re interested.

It’s been a lot of fun to research and write, plus everyone I’ve spoken to about it has been intrigued, so I really think we’re onto something and I’m confident that it’s something all you CapHeads will enjoy. Feeling very good about it and look forward to sharing the things I learn through the process on Twitter and here as we launch this book.


Smart Teams are Looking North to the CFL

Over the last few days, the CFL has been making news in the NFL. The leading receiver for the Seahawks was Chris Matthews who surprised everyone with a fantastic 45-yard catch in the first half that really got the Seahawks offense going in the right direction and then had that huge touchdown catch before the half.

Then, the last two days, the Indianapolis Colts have signed Duron Carter, Cris Carter’s son, to play wide receiver for them and a 6’4”, 316-pound offensive lineman named Ben Heenan who helped Saskatchewan win the CFL title last year.

Carter was in the CFL because he bounced around from Ohio State to community college to Alabama and FAU, not playing a snap at the last two because, in the words of his father, he hates school. By all accounts, he’s a good kid, some guys are just different and the Colts are about to benefit in a huge way because of it. In two seasons, he had 124 catches for 1939 yards and 12 touchdowns. His highlight tape is very impressive and the link is here.

Fifteen teams expressed interest in Carter, his teammate, Chad Ochocinco, states that Carter is “easily, a number one NFL receiver right now.” His GM with Montreal, Jim Popp praised his growth over the past two season and that “he’s as talented as any receiver that will be in the draft this year.” Like Cris Carter, Popp expressed that Duron has a high IQ and has matured immensely over the last two seasons. Popp states that the 6’4”, 205 receiver has all the intangibles to be a great receiver in the NFL including blocking, body control, quickness as a punt returner and the ability to make guys miss.

Considering what the Colts may have in the son of a Hall of Famer, they could be getting a steal with him as he’ll cost much less than a first round receiver would, thus continuing their trend of finding low-cost, high-value receivers to make their offense roll.

this isn’t the first time either of those two teams have gone to Canada to find talent and it’s a part of a broader trend in the NFL. The Seahawks have one of the best punters in the league in Jon Ryan, a guy so athletic that he was the leading receiver for his Regina Rams in college on top of being their punter. The Colts have found two linebackers in the CFL in Henoc Muamba and their starting middle linebacker, Jerrell Freeman.

Through signing guys from the CFL, these teams are getting guys who have experience at the professional level in a league that the NFL is becoming more like every year, according to NFL/CFL veteran Doug Flutie. He states that many of the things that have become common place over the last few years, the wide open, explosive offenses, no huddle, no-back sets, shorter time between plays and a faster pace of the game are things that the CFL was doing back in the 1990s when he was playing. Due to this, the CFL is becoming a great minor league for the NFL and organizations should treat it as such.

Over my time playing football and training at DeFranco’s Gym, I began to discover the wealth of talented players who didn’t get the chances they were hoping for in the NFL. Far too often, many of these guys would go undrafted, go unsigned and not take CFL opportunities, which would have allowed them to continue to play, make money and get film for NFL teams. Of course, I don’t blame any of these guys because I would not know if I myself would pass up my dream of the NFL for a CFL roster spot, but I’m beginning to become a big proponent of the CFL route.

Part of why I’m writing this is because I want to make sure other young agents don’t make the same mistakes I’ve seen with letting guys pass up chances in the CFL, then missing out on NFL chances. The reason I decided to become an agent is because I hate seeing talented players not get an opportunity and I think the CFL and the FXFL are real opportunities for players. The key to getting a guy in the NFL after he’s fallen through the cracks is more film and the CFL and FXFL are major opportunities for, especially quarterbacks, receivers, linemen, defensive backs and pass rushers to get film and then make the transition to the NFL.

Andrew Hawkins is a perfect example of a guy who fell through the cracks and then just kept plugging away and got an opportunity just by staying in the game. He didn’t even blow people away in Canada, in two seasons, the 5’7’ 180 speedster only had 41 catches for 457 yards and five touchdowns. The Rams signed him in January of 2011, but waived him on August 1st of that year, and the Bengals claimed him off waivers. They signed him to their practice squad, but brought him on the 53-man roster, when Jordan Shipley went on the IR. He then became their third leading receiver in 2012 and proved to be a valuable slot receiver. He got injured in 2013, but he had shown the kind of ability that made the Browns signed him away with a four-year, $13.6 million deal with $6.8 million guaranteed. If he never gave the CFL a shot, who knows what would have happened. Now, he’s one of the best slot receivers in the NFL and a millionaire.

We haven’t even mentioned Cameron Wake yet, but after getting cut by the Giants shortly after being signed as an undrafted free agent in 2005, he eventually settled in with the BC Lions in 2007 and became a force on the defensive line after switching from linebacker. In his CFL debut, about three years after his last college snap at Penn State, he had seven tackles and three sacks in a win over the Toronto Argonauts. He finished that season with a league-high 16 sacks and had the only blocked field goal in the whole league. He was the first player in league history to win the Rookie of the Year and Defensive Player of the Year in the same year. He led the league in sacks the next year as well with 23 and won the Defensive Player of the Year trophy again.

For all that production, the Dolphins still got him for a reasonable price of four-years, $4.9 million. Since 2009, he’s been a Pro Bowler in four of his six seasons and in 2012, he signed a four-year extension worth a total of $49 million, $20 million of which was guaranteed.

Many of the best organizations in the NFL are beginning to look to the CFL for talent, I think the main reasons are that the players have experience in the professional game and are cheap, but also the way the NFL game has become more like the CFL game in recent years with the rule changes and the evolution of the passing game.

To sum it all up, I highly recommend that teams look for guys who fit their system north of the border. The CFL is filled with players who could flourish in the right situation and, from a salary cap perspective, you can find a high-impact player for a low cap figure. With the average CFL salary around $80,000, the rookie minimum at $50,000 and the salary cap set at $5 million per year, per team, CFL stars are just happy for the increase in pay, let alone the fact that they’re about to live out their NFL dreams.

While the CFL will lose more of their stars, the increased success of their players will turn more eyes to the CFL game in the summers, when we’re all going through football withdrawal anyway. It’ll also increase the value of their TV deal with TSN, which is currently $43 million per year, up from it’s recent value of $15 million.

Rather than compete like they both were in the 1980s, it’s time to work together. In the long-run, the CFL/NFL relationship could be a major win-win for all involved. It’s up to NFL front offices to take advantage of it.

And one kind of P.S. final note on this, I think that players who have missed out on their NFL dreams, gone to the CFL and succeeded have faced some adversity that a) makes them more thankful for their chance in the NFL, b) has humbled them a little bit and c) gives them the kind of chip on their shoulder that can drive them. Through the things I learned from my mentor and friend Dr. Elko, my own personal life and simply stories I hear on podcasts, you learn how important overcoming adversity is to shaping individuals. In the case of Duron Carter for instance, I think he and his father are very proud of the man he’s become these last two years. That’s another reason why I think the CFL can become a breeding ground for NFL stars.


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@ZackMooreNFL’s Take on Harvin to the Jets


The Seahawks and Jets just rocked the football world with the rare in season trade as the Jets have just received Percy Harvin for a conditional pick. 

It seems like a strange move considering the Seahawks gave up a first, third and seventh rounder for him and they’re a team that highly values their draft picks, along with the fact that he’s one of the most explosive playmakers in football, but it also makes complete sense when you look at some of the numbers along with how the Seahawks are constructed. 

According to ESPN’s fantasy department, “Harvin only played 59.5 percent of Seattle’s snaps this year — nearly 30 percent less than both Doug Baldwin and Jermaine Kearse — and Harvin doesn’t have the blocking skills a run-heavy offense like Seattle’s would ideally feature at receiver.” Considering that he’s also owed a non-guaranteed $41.5 million over the next four years, they must have decided that Paul Richardson was a better move for them financially. 

I think the writing was on the wall when they drafted Richardson with a second round pick last May, he’s the same kind of explosive playmaker, but he’s playing on a four year, $4.7 million deal, while Harvin is in the middle of a five year $64.2 million deal and playing less than 60% of the team’s snaps. They must feel that Richardson is ready to step into that role sooner than expected.

The fact that Harvin is one of the most injury prone players in the league must have also factored into this decision, on both ends as he is apparently only worth a mid-round pick which I think is a reflection of his injury history. We can all agree that he’s one of the most dynamic playmakers in the NFL and while I know he hasn’t performed very well this year, if a player like Antonio Brown or Emmanuel Sanders was traded mid-season in this way, they’d command much higher than a mid-round pick.

While I do think that Harvin is a difficult player to deal with as a team because of how much time he misses, the Jets are well equipped to handle him missing time with Jeremy Kerley. I think it’s a great move for the Jets, when you can get one of the biggest playmakers in the NFL for a mid-round pick and you have the salary cap space to do it, it’s a great move for your team, I just wish it came before they sank to 1-6 on the season. 

I think he’ll fit in well with what Rex Ryan does with his offense as well and what I like most about this move is the fact that after this season, they’ll know for sure if Geno Smith is the quarterback of the future. While I know the team hasn’t performed as well as an optimist would hope, they’ve got a lot of weapons around Geno Smith now. 

Pretend this isn’t the New York Jets and all the negativity that creeps into your mind just at the sight of their name in text, think of their skill players right now. The running backs are Chris Ivory with the power, Chris Johnson with speed, Bilal Powell as the number three after rushing for 697 yards last season. 

They’ve got Eric Decker on the outside finally healthy after a hamstring issue to start the season, a guy who had 2,352 receiving yards and 24 touchdowns in 2012 and 2013. Now, you’ve got Percy Harvin as your #2 guy which will open Decker up to more single coverage and freedom to make plays. I know we haven’t seen Harvin play 16 games since 2011, but at least he’s well rested, am I right?!?!?! 

In 2011 though, Harvin was one of the best players in the league with 87 catches, 967 yards receiving, 345 rushing and 8 offensive touchdowns. In 2012, he played 9 games and had 62 catches for 677 yards and 3 TDs, which over 16 games would give him 110 catches for 1,203 yards. 

There are some guys who are just too explosive for their own good almost, I’ve seen it at DeFranco’s Gym with guys like Michael Smith who was a 7th rounder in 2012 and a running back for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but just hasn’t been able to stay healthy during his time in the NFL. Harvin might be one of those guys, but with the right training and care, we could see him blossom in this new opportunity.

Let’s not forget that the Jets still have Jeremy Kerley who is a nice supplement to this offense, but shouldn’t be a focal point like he’s had to be at times this season. Falling back into a role more suited for him, we will see him benefit from this as well. Greg Salas and David Nelson are good role players in the 4th and 5th receiver spots, which is more suited for who they are as players right now. 

At tight end, I think the Jets have a future All-Pro type player in Jace Amaro, I love what he did at Texas Tech and he fits exactly what the Jets needed going into the draft, so I’m very happy to see the hometown green team making some savvy moves after the mockery that the last few years have been. Jeff Cumberland is a very good second tight end, so there’s another guy that the Jets have put in a better place to succeed through good decisions. 

One thing that I really like about the Seahawks is their open mindedness and ability to admit they made a mistake and rectify it. Considering the way the Seahawks manage their team, spending $64.2 million on an oft-injured, risky player like Harvin is outside of what they normally do, a mistake they already made with Sidney Rice. They saw an opportunity to rid themselves of a contract that wasn’t working out for them, you just don’t pay someone that kind of money to play 60% of your snaps. It’s not Harvin’s fault either, he just didn’t seem to be the right fit for that kind of money. 

The Seahawks are the kind of team that sends a brochure to agents of undrafted free agents to show them how they let the best players play no matter where they’re drafted. Simply put, they might just be the most well managed team in all of football right now, so they just cut costs with a player who wasn’t fitting in well anyway.

I see some people questioning this move considering that the Seahawks gave up three picks for Harvin to get him, but they just became so much more flexible heading into the future and they won a Super Bowl last season. Sure, Richardson might not be Harvin, but they must have decided that he is a good enough substitute after a cost-benefit analysis. They won a Super Bowl with Harvin playing one regular season game and the Super Bowl, they must have decided that getting rid of this contract was the right move.

Overall, I rate this as a great trade for both sides and I’m excited to see how the Jets use him. Dear Rex Ryan, don’t Tebow us with this one, I can feel the excitement of Jets fans bursting through my social media networks, don’t break their hearts my good man!


Onnit.com: Total Human Optimization 



The Full List of Players on IR-Designated for Return


With the season officially underway teams are now allowed to put players on the special Injured Reserve list which allows them to recall the player to the active roster later in the season. Here are the official names currently on the list along with their base salary cap charge for the season:

Chicago Bears- Marquess Wilson ($506,787)

Dallas Cowboys- Demarcus Lawrence ($1,01,209)

Detroit Lions- Kyle Van Noy ($927,655)

Green Bay Packers- J.C. Tretter ($598,977)

Indianapolis Colts- Xavier Nixon ($495,000)

Kansas City Chiefs- Joe Mays ($1,968,750)

New Orleans Saints- Khairi Fortt ($523,140)

New York Giants- Geoff Schwartz ($2,325,000)

San Francisco 49ers- Glenn Dorsey ($4,484,166)

Tampa Bay Buccaneers- Charles Sims ($591,023)


Reviewing NFL Roster Cuts and Transactions for August 24

Teams have until Tuesday to bring their rosters down to 75 players and a few teams have already made many of their decisions and begun the process of releasing players. Most of the moves that occur are not noteworthy but there are always a few surprising cuts to go along with some bad injury news for certain players. Lets go over the bigger news stories of the day.

The St. Louis Rams announced that quarterback Sam Bradford suffered another ACL injury and would miss the entire 2014 NFL season. Bradford’s college and NFL career has been marred by injury and this would unfortunately look to be the end of the line. I had written about Bradford last year and suggested that the Rams offer a pretty significant paycut based on the fact that he only played 33 games in three years, but unfortunately for the Rams they did not take that approach. Bradford will continue to count for $17.61 million against the salary cap while on injured reserve, unless some contract tweak is done for cap relief. The Rams currently have the tightest cap position in the NFL and will likely need to rework a deal or two before the season. This was to be a big year for Bradford who will have a cap hit $16.58 million in 2015, his final year of his rookie contract. With just $3.595 million in dead money if cut next year it should be impossible for him to survive on the contract this time around, putting him in a position to decide if he wants to take a low cost “prove it” contract or to retire from all the injuries. Bradford will make around $65 million by the end of this season, the final byproduct of the old CBA rookie contract system.


The Buffalo Bills released defensive tackle Alan Branch just eight monts after signing him to a three year contract extension in which he received a $3.1 million signing bonus. Branch will be another in a growing list of strange contract decisions made by the Bills in which they release players after recent decisions to pay the players. Branch did not seem to fit in with the new Bills defense and his recent arrest seemed to make the decision much easier for the Bills. Branch should have earned a $100,000 workout bonus this year and will count for $875,000 against the Bills cap, a savings of $1.8 million. He’ll also have a $1.55 million cap charge in 2015. Overall the Bills will lose $625K in cap room over two years despite the fact that he played in no games under the extension seasons of the contract.

There were a number of veteran cuts including Broncos‘ tackle Winston Justice ($1.0625M cap savings), Bears‘ safety Adrian Wilson ($570K cap savings), Patriots’ defensive tackle Tommy Kelly ($1.205M cap savings), and Patriots’ defensive end Will Smith ($585K cap savings). Sometimes you can’t read too much into veteran releases as 90% of the time such players would not be asked to participate in a fourth preseason game and many of the veteran players who are on the bubble will not be signed until week 2 of the season. The reason for the late signing is to avoid a full base salary guarantee. The CBA guarantees the salary of any veteran player who is on the week 1 roster, but just 25% of his contract if signed after the first game.


Neither Justice nor Kelly can be signed to minimum salary benefit contracts this season. The Patriots had given Kelly a $100,000 signing b0nus when he renegotiated his contract this season and the Broncos gave Justice a $75,000 bonus. Both numbers disqualify both for such treatment. In hindsight the $75,000 bonus for Justice may have been shortsighted.

Other teams who made a number of cuts include the New York Jets, Atlanta Falcons, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Carolina Panthers, Jacksonville Jaguars, Oakland Raiders, and Washington Redskins. This is of course a busy time of year for us at OTC to keep up with all the transactions so bear with us over the next two weeks as we get the cap pages down to 75 and then down to 53 next week.



Buccaneers and Carl Nicks Part Ways…


Guard Carl Nicks has apparently decided to walk away from football following two injury riddled years with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Nicks had signed a $47.5 million contract with the Buccaneers in 2012 that made him the highest paid guard in the NFL.

The contract was a good example of the problems that can occur with the all cash salary cap model that is employed by Tampa Bay. Because all cash contracts contain no signing bonus it often leads to lower cash flows in the first year of the contract than awarded in more traditional NFL contracts. The players also receive no “dead money” protection in the contract. These factors lead to teams overpaying for talent and guaranteeing large portions of the contract. Nicks received a ridiculous $25 million in fully guaranteed salary upon signing, an unheard of total for a guard. $31 million of the contract was guaranteed for injury.

The Buccaneers quickly gave up any benefits from the all cash model when they made the poor decision to restructure Nicks’ contract in December of 2012. At the time Nicks was injured and had only appeared in 7 games for the team, but the team was lining up their salary cap to make a run at Darrelle Revis in 2013 and Nicks was one of two contracts they reworked to create the needed salary cap space. The Buccaneers paid Nicks $11.785 million of his 2013 salary as a roster bonus in 2012. The bonus was prorated just like a signing bonus, thus giving Nicks the monster contract due to the all cash model plus all the benefits of the traditional contract model. Because the bonus was not classified as a signing bonus the Buccaneers also lost all rights to claim forfeiture in the event of a suspension, retirement, or other situation leading to him not playing football. This decision now leaves the Buccaneers with dead money from Nicks.


Nicks was set to count for $9.357 million against the 2014 salary cap. His cap charge will now reduce to $2.367 million, an immediate $7 million in salary cap savings. The reason the dead money is so low in 2014 is because the release will occur after June 1 which splits cap charges over two seasons. Nicks’ 2015 salary cap charge will now be $4.714 million. Had they never reworkd his deal the dead money would be zero.

The release was not official as of Friday so it remains to be seen if more money was involved with his retirement. Nicks did have $6 million of his salary guaranteed for injury and could have filed a grievance to keep that money had he been released. It was a tricky situation because in the eyes of the Buccaneers his injuries may not have been football related. It is possible that the team could have offered an injury settlement or another concession to cover the injury.

All told, Nicks will have earned $25 million for appearing in 9 games over a two year period.