Negotiations between Zack Ertz and the Eagles on an extension which have seemingly been on-again, off-again since last November are back in the off-again mode according to Ian Rapoport:
Sources: Negotiations between the #Eagles and TE Zach Ertz came to an abrupt halt when PHI made an offer that had less guaranteed money than their offer in November. The backloaded offer also had less cash over the next 4 seasons annually than Austin Hooper’s #Browns contract.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) September 3, 2020
The tweet would certainly seem to indicate that Ertz’ side is a bit upset with the negotiation and its not much different than the approach that went on with George Kittle and the 49ers which worked out in Kittle’s favor. However, the wording here is what I found interesting and really is the only reason I wanted to write about it because it shows how offers can be twisted around to suit ones needs.
There are a few key lines here, all of which are designed to paint the Eagles in a bad light. And perhaps they are negotiating in bad faith here but this is how I would look at what is being said.
- The Eagles offered less guaranteed money than in November.
It is important to remember that the market dynamic has changed since last November. Since that time we saw the Kittle contract obliterate the market and perhaps more applicably the Travis Kelce extension move the needle on the market for 3rd contract tight ends. Teams usually use guarantees as a trade off on values. What that means is that a team may offer you less guaranteed money for a higher valued contract or more guarantees on a lesser valued deal. Did the Eagles just pull guarantees or did they make a offer a much bigger overall number with the concession being guarantees? Kelce for example earned barely any new guarantees in his contract extension.
2. The backloaded offer.
Clearly that is a phrase that tells you that the offer is just throwing money at the end of the deal. Basically this is what the Kelce contract is. It grows from $11.75 to $13.25 to $15.5 to $17.5M to reach the big number annual value. From the Eagles perspective if you are keeping up with the market that is the market. Ertz has every right to ask for something different but it would be fair to know how the November offer in terms of yearly cash flows compares with the backloaded one. If the front end cash is better than before I don’t think you infer that it is insulting.
3. Has less cash over the next 4 years than Austin Hooper
This is where we, most likely, get into the new vs old money debates. Austin Hooper signed a free agent contract that will pay him $42 million in new money over the next four seasons. Ertz is under contract for the next two years at $14.91 million (he can increase that slightly with escalators). The “new contract” would kick in in 2022, which would make the four year total to be the two existing years plus the two new years.
As a point of reference Kelce will earn $25M in new money in the first two years of his new contract. If the Eagles offered Ertz an 8% increase over Kelce, $27M over two years, Ertz would come in lower than Hooper over 4 years. $27M over two would be the highest amount paid to a tight end over two years not named Kittle (Kittle will earn $33.75 million). If you want to compare apples to apples Hooper will earn $23 million over the first two years of his contract.
Now none of this is to say that this is what happened or what is being offered just that sometimes when you see news like this break you should think critically on it before jumping all over a team or a player. The Eagles may have very well made a junk offer but the way that this is written makes me think that there is more than meets the eye to the situation.
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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.