Contract Showdown: The $14 Million Players

With Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas joining the $14 million club today, I thought it would be interesting to see how their money breaks down compared to some other players. I think that helps us draw some perspective on the negotiating process and the way various contracts can be used to help constuct a deal acceptable to both sides. So let’s see how things break down for the players/

The Wide Receiver Comparison

The most logical comparison here was Calvin Johnson’s $16.2 million contract which most hold as too high to be considered in the deal making process. While this is true to some extent there are still ways to use the contract to some extent and this is what likely happened with these deals.


The thing that jumps out the most to me is the three year contract values for the players. While Johnson leads the group at $45.75 it is barely above Bryant’s $45 million three year salary. Despite the disparity in APY the team was willing to meet the cash flows up front in concession for slightly better terms in year 4 and 5. Thomas will get the strongest two year payout which helps make up for the (slightly) poorer year by year cash flow on the deal. In general I think it is fair to say that while the Johnson deal in its entirety was thrown out, portion of the deal had merit in the eyes of both sides.

The Defensive Player Comparison

One of the takeaways I had watching the deals come down in the last few days is that the defensive players are having an easier time convincing teams that they are the most important non-QB’s in the NFL. I think that holds true to some extent here as well. Revis’ deal clearly pulls away from the pack with his huge up front payments while Peterson pretty much surpasses our receivers as well. The others are all relatively close.


Still as we look at these numbers we see a reasonable pattern in our two and three year payouts that is in line with that Calvin Johnson mega deal.  These contracts likely added credibility to the Johnson numbers and, in the case of the corners, may have been a justification for a contract for a player who lines up across from them.

Dez vs Demaryius

Both players received very fair contracts that I think play well for all people involved. Bryce will likely weigh in with his ECV comparison, but at quick glance I think Bryant got the stronger of the two contracts. The structure dictates that to me. Bryant received a $20 million signing bonus which makes it more difficult to move on or renegotiate in the later years. While not as much as the Johnson deal, this bonus was far superior to all the others which were mainly in the $11 million range, which is what Thomas received. Bryant will basically trend $1.5 million above Thomas through the first four years which is favorable.

With Bryant earning $45 million in guarantees by next March he also has the stronger guarantee package, though neither would be released anyway in that first three year period unless they did something off the field to warrant removal from the team.  According to Joel Corry there are no offsets in Thomas’ contract, but the odds of the offset coming into play is about 0.01% making it something nice to talk about but functionally is worth little.