It was certainly quite a day of action with teams re-signing their own players, but with contract information trickling in I thought it would be good to look at some of the specifics from today and various news stories than speculating about rumored signings. Hopefully Ill be able to do another recap tomorrow during the start of the free agent frenzy.
The Big Contracts
Devin McCourty, S, Patriots- 5 years, $47.5 million, $22 million guaranteed
This was a massive contract for McCourty who clearly was able to ride the momentum of being the only top line player available at the position. The $22 million fully guaranteed upon signing is a staggering figure as is the $15 million signing bonus he received. McCourty earns $18 million this year and $23 million over two years which far outdistances Jairus Byrd’s $12.3 and $20.4 he received as the top free agent signing. Some people have said that he turned more money down, but I’d imagine the guarantees and contract structure made this one happen.
Jerry Hughes, DE/LB, Bills- 5 years, $45 million, $17.625 million guaranteed
This had to be a bit of a disappointment for Hughes, who statistically tracked with the group of players who received $10M + contracts over the last few years. I had wondered before what Hughes’ failures in Indianapolis would have on his free agent candidacy as well as the fact that the Bills have tremendous personnel on the defensive lines. In general it seems the large number of tier two pass rushers are driving prices down from expected levels and the league must have viewed Hughes as the top of that level rather than a tier 1 talent. The signing and option bonus structure does give Hughes very good job security however.
Tamba Hali, LB, Chiefs- 1 year, $6 million
This was actually a renegotiation which saw Hali take a $3 million pay cut with an opportunity to earn that money back in incentives. I think this is a fair contract for both sides and allows Hali the chance to finish his career a Chief while providing the team a fallback option if the negotiation with Justin Houston gets very messy. To get the maximum cap relief Kansas City used a void structure to prorate money out 4 year beyond the actual life of the contract.
Patriots Decline Option on Darrelle Revis
Perhaps not surprisingly the Patriots have determined they will not pick up the option on Darrelle Revis, thus allowing Revis to become a free agent on Tuesday. The Patriots gained $20 million in cap room by declining the option. Revis will likely be the hottest free agent available now that Suh is essentially off the market. At the least Revis is going to want to exceed the $14 million contract of Patrick Peterson and will likely be looking for a similar raise that Suh received compared to other positional comparables. The Jets are supposedly interested which will create an interesting situation if the Patriots opt to pursue tampering charges especially if Revis signs quickly on Tuesday.
Cowboys Restructure Tyron Smith’s Contract
Dallas was close to the border of cap compliance so they restructured Smith’s deal to create $8 million in cap space. This was an expected move and very different than their old moves of restructuring everyone for need. Smith is incredibly young and this should not hurt the team one bit. They can use the money to re-sign DeMarco Murray and it should give them the breathing room to carry Brandon Carr’s contract through June. They seemingly have not redone Carr’s deal yet which leads me to think he could be a June 1 designation.
Saints Restructure Junior Galette’s Contract plus More
New Orleans created $10 million in cap room with the logical restructure of Galette’s deal. The team also reportedly restructured Broderick Bunkley’s contract and Jimmy Graham’s. I don’t have the details of those yet, but I’d guesstimate that the Saints are anywhere from $4-7 million under the salary cap, following the release of LB Curtis Lofton. It is doubtful that they will be major players in free agency given their cap troubles this year and potentially next season.
NFL Upset with Turnout of “Legal Tampering” Window
The NFL has said that they will investigate and potentially punish teams that they have determined have gone well outside the spirit of these open communications period. This is mainly related to the very specific contract details that were being leaked over the last few days which have gone far beyond the “player x is very interested in signing with team y” the NFL expected to happen. The biggest offenders are likely the Dolphins and Eagles.
The NFL really should just eliminate this “window” if they are going to punish teams for talking contract specifics. The reason they put this in was to reduce the amount of negotiating that would occur during the combine and leave the focus more on the draft than contract leaks. But by moving the discussion period to days before free agency it simply ramped talks up from hypothetical scenarios to specifics, which should have been expected. The NFL has the best free agency of any sport and the NFL probably feels this diminishes it. They are better off going back to the old system if this is upsetting them.