Yet another day of action as the NFL prepares for free agency…
At the top of our list today is the Pittsburgh Steelers who took a large step forward in being cap compliant in 2014. We had discussed Heath Miller briefly yesterday but today we became aware of the particulars of his contract extension and as expected this was a deal that was as much about salary cap relief as it was a true extension. Miller converted $5 million of his scheduled base salary into a signing bonus and the team added two contract years at $4 million a season to his existing contract. This saved the Steelers $3,333,334 in cap room.
The Steelers also announced a new contract for Troy Polamalu, also a two year extension. While we don’t have the particulars of the contract, based on various Twitter reports I think my initial assumption of a similar conversion of $6.75 million of his scheduled $8.25 million salary into a bonus is correct. That will reduce his cap charge by $4.5 million with him then under contract the next two years for $5.875 million per year. While both moves are widely being described as “kicking the can” by the Steelers, I do think that it should be pointed out that the team is not doing what certain other teams do when it comes to cap relief. In most cases these payers would be extended for four years for cap purposes leaving huge sums of dead money when released. The Steelers have never done that usually trying to work within the confines of a realistic career of a player. It doesn’t mean that it will work in the long run but it’s a more fundamentally solid approach that maxing out proration through voidable years.
Following those announcements the team released T Levi Brown, LB Larry Foote, and CB Curtis Brown. The release of Brown is the big one as it saves the team $6.25 million in cap space. Brown will go down as one of the all time contract follies when the Cardinals signed him to an extension in 2012 and he proceeded to play in 5 games over two years. The Steelers gave up little for him, but they could be on the hook for injury payments under the CBA’s injury protection plans. Such payments would not count on the cap. Foote and Brown saved the team around $1.8 million in cap. The team also re-signed S Will Allen to an undisclosed contract.
Pittsburgh should be around $1 million over the cap once the Polamalu deal is on the books on the site. CB Ike Taylor would be the next player whose deal needs to be reworked or terminated in the next few days. Taylor counts for $11.94 million against the cap and releasing him saves the team $7 million.
Early in the morning the Cleveland Browns announced that they had released Davone Bess from the team. The Browns traded for Bess in 2013 and extended his contract by three years. Bess was released before any of those years were played. He had a fully guaranteed $3,067,000 million salary, but the Browns contend that his off the field issues voided the guarantee. It is possible that he could contest that but with so many off the field issues it is unlikely. We are not counting him against the Browns cap. The team also released DE Paul Hazel and WR Brian Tyms, neither of which impact the salary cap.
The release of TE John Carlson was made official today. Carlson was another free agent folly when he signed a $25 million contract containing $9.1 million guaranteed with the Vikings in 2012. He would go on to catch 40 passes for 387 yards in two years. The Vikings save $2 million in cap space and avoid paying him another $4 million in salary. The Vikings should have about $37 million in cap room.
The Bears released P Adam Podlesh, saving $1,025,000 in cap room. Chicago has just under $9 million in cap room and needs to make some type of decision on Julius Peppers this week. Peppers will count for just over $18 million in cap charges this year.
CB Cortland Finnegan of the Rams announced his own release from the team late this afternoon. Finnegan was another one of those free agent follies earning $24 million in the last two years from the Rams despite poor play. The Rams have yet to officially release him and were trying to work out a new contract with him that reduced his salary but the two sides seemed to be unable to come to an agreement. Finnegan presents an interesting situation because he has a $3 million roster bonus that is guaranteed for skill and injury termination. If he was released now that money would accelerate onto the 2013 salary cap and the Rams do not have enough cap space left in 2013 to execute that move. St. Louis is tight on cap space in 2014 and would likely release him for cap purposes to attempt to avoid payment of the $3 million. That would not work if they released him now since the 2013 season is over and there would be no justification for a cap termination. I would think that he can argue against it even in 2014, but if he signs elsewhere for at least $3 million it would be a pointless grievance since he can only collect $3 million once. Either way it’s a situation worth watching play out.
While releases dominated the news there was a big extension in Buffalo when they re-upped S Aaron Williams to a $26 million contract. Williams will be the highest extension yet given to anyone from the 2011 draft class. We hope to have the details tomorrow but if the numbers hold true that would make him one of the higher paid Safeties in the NFL. Whether or not this sends a message about the future of S Jairus Byrd or not is up for debate but if they do re-sign Byrd they would be the only team in the NFL with two high priced Safeties, though the Seahawks and potentially Dolphins will also reach there at some point.
We got the numbers today on Corey Peters one year deal with the Falcons. It’s a $1.5 million deal that will count $1,468,750 against the salary cap. Though not yet reflected on the site I believe that Jason Snelling officially sent his retirement paperwork in, thus saving the team $1.375 million. Once Snelling and TE Tony Gonzalez are removed from the roster the Falcons should have around $26 million in cap space.
Finally the Jets were awarded CB Johnny Patrick off waivers from the Chargers. This is Patrick’s third team in the last year and he will count for $700,000 against the Jets salary cap.
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.