Draft Day Financial Winners and Losers, Including Trades


With the first round of the draft complete I thought it would be an interesting thing to look back on some of the financial aspects of last nights results. We’ll take into account some of the mock drafting I read when we look at winners and losers but for the most part it’s the draft slot that determines a player winning or losing rather than anything else.

The Winners

Blake Bortles- Most of the big name draft guys did not have Bortles in the top 10 and he landed at number 3 in the draft. His contract will come in just $1.618 million less than the first overall pick and, if Bortles plays well, could end up with the largest rookie contract in the class since his option value will be significantly higher than that of a tackle or defensive end.

Sammy Watkins- Watkins was one of those players who was rumored to go anywhere from 4 to 7 in the draft. By being selected at 4 he will earn $19.935 million over four years, which is just 10.4% less than Jadeveon Clowney at 1. Had he dropped to five?  16.1% less as the NFL makes a big distinction between the number 4 and 5 pick in terms of salary considerations.

Eric Ebron- By sneaking into the top 10, Ebron locks his option value in at the transition tag level, which is far higher than the number 3 through 25 calculation used for the remainder of the first round. That’s a major benefit for a player to either get free agency a year earlier or get a hefty pay raise for the fifth year option.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix- As the 21st selection in the draft Clinton-Dix should have his entire contract fully guaranteed. This was the last selection in the 2013 draft to have that occur and it should mean no difficult negotiation with the Packers towards getting the full guarantee.

Teddy Bridgewater- While his stock fell over the prior few months it was still a good thing to slip in at the end of the 1st round. He’ll earn $1.3 million more than the first pick in the second round, which is nearly a 19% increase in total value. As a QB he should also have leverage to negotiate an even stronger guarantee rather than the 3 year guarantee other players at this spot of the first round get, likely leading to anywhere from 25 to 50% of his year 4 salary locked in. People make too much of the option year possibility here. It would only impacts about 25% of those drafted in this slot at the position. Take the money now and if you are worried about the option go sign a ridiculous deal with Fantex, who will more than make up for it.

The Losers

Khalil Mack- As mentioned above number 5 begins the draft descent for contracts and represents a pretty big decrease from the top 4. Mack, who was projected to go number 3 to a team that plays in a state with no state tax, will earn $1.98 million less than the number 3 pick without taking those taxes into account.

Jake Matthews- Mike Mayock had Matthews going 4, though Mel Kiper and Todd McShay both had him at 6. Regardless the difficult part of being picked number 6 is the large decline in value from the 5. Matthews contract will be $2.247 million less than Mack’s above, the largest dollar value drop between back to back picks in the entire draft.

Mike Evans- Not many expected him to be there at 7, and many assumed the Raiders were his destination at 5. The drop in contract value from 5 to 7 is 21.7%, second highest in the draft for a two spot drop (number 6 to 8 is slightly more at 21.9%).

Taylor Lewan- Almost everyone projected top 10 for Lewan and he just misses out by dropping to 11.  That’s a major blow. A drop from 10 to 11 equals 6.2% less guaranteed money over four years and in the ballpark of $3 million less on the 5th year option.

Marqise Lee- He was a consensus first rounder and wasn’t selected on day 1. We mentioned above the big drop in value when discussing Bridgewater. If he does not get selected in the first three picks of round two he wont even garner any guarantees on the third year of his contract.

The Trades

We went over the salary cap considerations that should go into trades the other day so let’s see how these all worked out. We’ll assume that the teams will virtually guarantee the first year salary of the mid round selections to get a better look at those players when calculating the numbers.

The Knockout

The Bills traded away two 1s and a 4 to move up 5 slots for WR Sammy Watkins. If we assume that the Browns get the 16th pick next year in the trade Cleveland will be paying $536,261 in guarantees per expected value with the risk diversified over three picks. The Bills will pay $772,698 for Watkins, who plays at one of the riskiest positions to draft. This is a trade that can get a GM fired.

And the Winner Is…

The Eagles picked up a third round pick from the Browns to move from 22 to 26 in the first round. Those third rounders have solid value and the Eagles will pay just $358,000 in guarantees per value point compared to $510,000 for the Browns, which assumes Johnny Manziel gets a small guarantee bump because he’s a QB. Its likely because he was taken at 22 he may get his entire contract guaranteed which makes it even more expensive for Cleveland if that occurs.

The Seahawks seem to have a new trading friend in the Vikings and they gave them their first round pick to drop to 40 while grabbing a mid rounder as well. Assuming a slight QB premium the Vikings will pay, they will be in the ballpark of $470,000 in guarantees per expected value compared to just $248,000 for the Seahawks. Minnesota may not have a had a choice here if they were afraid of the Texans grabbing Bridgewater in the next round, so they need the 5th year option to be exercised to make the trade worthwhile.

Too Close to Call

New Orleans moved up seven slots for an additional third rounder sent to Arizona. The position the Saints picked is a bit riskier, but financially this works for both sides. New Orleans pays about $540,000 per expected value while the Cardinals will pay $530,000. That is about as fair as a trade in the NFL can be.

The Browns moved up one spot with the Vikings and threw in a mid round pick. Cleveland will pay $599,696 in guarantees per value while the Vikings will be at $554,792. That is close enough in value to call it a good trade for both sides.