Much publicity was made about WR Mike Williams $40.25 million dollar contract he signed with the Buccaneers on Wednesday. There was talk about how he was the first ever to reach that number without a 1,000 yard season (I would have thought that was Percy Harvin but maybe they mean all purpose yards). There was talk about the impressive $15 million guarantee that was coming with the contract.
In reality the extension actually averages $7.924 million a year in new money with $9.4 million in guarantees and an extremely friendly cap structure that could leave Williams with a 1 year contract worth $10 million dollars. As is standard for the Buccaneers no signing bonus was included in the contract. Without a signing bonus the only protection Williams has is guarantees in his contract. His salary in 2013 and 2014 are both protected but to earn the full $15 million in guarantees Williams has to be on the roster in 2015.
Williams cap hit next season will only be $1.8 million with $600,000 tied to workout participation to ensure his presence in the offseason. Those workout bonuses are present in every year of the contract. If he remains on the team in 2015 the cap charge is only $6.8 million. With no potential guarantees beyond that season the $23.45 million in salary due the final three years of the contract is only going to be seen if Williams plays well.
It is possible that Tampa Bay could walk away after payments of just $9.37 million in new money for the one extension year and $10 million total for the 2013 and 2014 season. Considering the franchise tag last season was over $10.5 million for a WR, the Buccaneers could have faced a situation where Williams earned his $630K this season and then was tagged for over $10 million in 2014. So the Buccaneers more or less received a discount of $1.2-$1.5 million and keep the franchise tag open for Josh Freeman in the event he has a terrific season in his walk year.
It is a very strong deal for Tampa who has built their team with a clear vision for the next two seasons and left open the possibility of changing course with almost no damage to their salary cap structure if the two year window doesn’t pan out. You can view Mike Williams’ Salary Cap Page by clicking here.
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.