Tuesday was yet another busy day around the NFL with teams making moves to bring their rosters into a more manageable state for 2014 with free agency just one week away. So lets jump in and recap everything that happened today.
The biggest news of the day came early when the Dallas Cowboys announced that they had restructured the contracts of Tony Romo, Orlando Scandrick, and Sean Lee. Much was made of these moves and how the contracts were just negotiated last year, but as we pointed out during most of the year the contracts were always designed for this with empty proration years just waiting for this to occur.
Romo converted $12.5 million of base salary into a bonus, thus saving Dallas $10 million in cap space. Lee converted $4.75 million of salary into a bonus while Scandrick converted $3.75 million. Those two moves saved the team $6.8 million. The three moves will mean that the Cowboys 2015 salary cap increases by $4.2 million. My estimates have Dallas about $100,000 under the salary cap prior to tendering their Punter Chris Harris and releasing C Phil Costa.
In somewhat surprising moves LB Jason Worilds and DE Greg Hardy both signed their tender offers just one day after having been tagged. In Hardy’s case it was probably the reality of the situation knowing that no team in the NFL is giving up two first round draft picks for him so he may as well just sign the tender. Worilds, however, could have tested the market since his tender only carried a right of first refusal with no draft choice compensation. My gut feeling is that Worilds knows that the $9.754 million contract is higher than whatever annual value he would earn on a new contract so it made more sense to sign it and simply work with Pittsburgh on an extension where that number will now be built into the contract. Plus with the Steelers tight cap situation they may have been prone to removing the tag at some point and he would then lose the fully guaranteed salary. Pittsburgh probably will need to bring this number down at some point in the next few weeks.
The Redskins gutted part of their roster by parting ways with DE Adam Carriker, P Sav Rocca, TE Richard Quinn, RB Jawan Jamison, and RB Davin Meggett. Releasing Carriker saved the Redskins from paying the often injured Carriker a $2 million option bonus and $4.7 million in base salary. Carriker played in just 34 games in four years for the Redskins and had his contract re-worked twice last year to bring his salary cap and cash payments down. The team saves just under $5.1 million in cap room with the release. Rocca was signed last season, but the skins did not want to pay another $1.2 million for his services. That move also creates $1.2 million in cap. The other players had barely spent any time with the Redskins. Washington should have around $22.5 million in cap space.
The Chargers also got into the release action by moving on from CB Derek Cox and FB Le’Ron McClain. Cox was one of the worst free agent signings of 2013 with San Diego paying him $6 million dollars only to see him hit the bench when they realized he couldn’t cover anyone. His $4.25 million salary was set to guarantee this year, making his release a no brainer. He’ll still count for $3.9 million in dead money but that represents a $1.65 million cap savings for the team. McClain was in the final year of his contract and saved the team $2.5 million. In addition the Chargers reworked the contract of WR Eddie Royal. Royal was set to earn $4.5 million and we should have the details tomorrow. I would expect more moves coming out of San Diego in the coming days.
The Jaguars released starting Guard Uche Nwaneri early in the day. Nwaneri had two years remaining on his contract but a $1 million roster bonus due the 15th day of the League Year in combination with a $3.8 million salary made him expendable. Jacksonville is revamping their team and will likely be targeting some free agent lineman this year. The Jaguars have nearly $60 million in cap room at their disposal.
The Eagles released WR Jason Avant to save the team $3.25 million in cash and cap. Avant pretty much fell victim to the numbers game. With the re-signing of Jeremy Maclin and Riley Cooper, plus the bloated salary of DeSean Jackson the Eagles already had significant investments in the position for the year.
We’ll be continuing to update the site during the week so keep checking back for daily contract changes.
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.