A Closer Look at Marcus Gilbert’s Contract Extension

I usually try to take a little deeper look at the contracts on the site and wanted to do the same with the contract of Steelers tackle Marcus Gilbert since I had a few questions about him. I think the prevailing analysis is that he received $6 million a year in new money which places him in a logjam for fourth highest compensated right tackle in the NFL. But when you look closer at the numbers I think a strong case can be made that in a true contract valuation Gilbert is going to be the highest paid right tackle in the league.

There are two considerations that should come into valuing a contract. The first is the yearly cash flow component that shows the was that the salary is actually distributed. Is it a heavily front loaded contract?  Is it backloaded?  Is it a steady stream of salary?

The following table provides the cumulative money that each player will earn over the course of his contract. Each cell is color coded to indicate the likelihood of the money being earned. Green means its essentially guaranteed, yellow is a year where it is probably 50/50 that it is earned, and red means don’t start counting that money until you get that far into the contract.

Right Tackle Market

The first thing that jumps out to me is how strong the frontside of Gilbert’s contract is. Only Cherilus will earn more in year one, but over the first two and three years of the contract no player will earn more than Gilbert, despite the fact that Cherilus, Loadholt, and Davis all earn more on an annual basis.


Gilbert actually received a higher signing bonus than everyone on the list except Cherilus, though Loadholt’s signing bonus is effectively more since he signed for four years rather than five. Because of that his contract is as well protected as almost anyone else on the list.  The exceptions are Cherilus and Howard, and in both cases the protections they received may have been a team error. In the case of the Oakland Raiders it was clearly an error (they paid Howard a roster bonus too soon which turned it into a signing bonus). The Colts got hit with a little known rule called the 50% rule that turned Cherilus’ signing bonus from $10 million to $14.5 million for accounting purposes. I tend to think Indianapolis simply did not pay attention to the rule but that is just a baseless opinion.

All things considered I think you can make a strong case that Gilbert received either the best or second best contract at the position based on expected earnings. Does that make it a bad contract for the team?  I guess it depends on your perspective. Gilbert is the second youngest of the group to sign so there is a greater upside for him to perform well.  His deal also reflects the large cap increase that was not in play when Cherilus, Davis, and Loadholt signed.


Negatively the contract did not offer anywhere near the protections that the 49ers insisted on received from Davis.  It did not have the no bonus provision of the Collins contract, which was also supposed to be the structure of the Howard contract.  So I do think it’s fair to say the Steelers could have asked for more concessions considering he and Davis are the only players under a true extension where the teams held contractual leverage over the player at the time of signing.

I don’t think that the $6 million a year figure is necessarily too high, which is something I have read in a few spots. While he doesn’t have a huge track record and has never stood out in Pro Football Focus the way others have, he is a logical comparison to other limited sample players like Collins and Howard who both earned $6 million a year as free agents. As a 2nd rounder he also carries much more cache than the other two which will play a role.

The Steelers were not going to be able to lowball him into a $4 million  per year contract. For that to eventually happen they would have had to wait out the year, a portion of free agency, and kept crossing their fingers that nobody bites. Again seeing what Howard received on the market it’s unrealistic to think he could have gotten that much less.  So while they may have been able to work within the $6 million per year parameters more effectively coming in far under that dollar figure was never going to happen.




Recapping Todays AFC Salary Cap News


Today was quite the day of activity as teams look to gain as much cap space as possible before the beginning of free agency tomorrow. I am going to break things down by conference in two posts to keep things from getting too long. As for the salary cap charts please note that I will be doing my best to keep them updated and current over the next week but I’ll be playing catchup on some days so bear with me on it. Also the league has made more adjustments to the cap that I am unaware of for most teams so if you have any information please email me.

Miami Dolphins– While they did not do anything noteworthy the contract information for Brian Hartline and Matt Moore was reported by Ben Volin of the Palm Beach Post. It’s a great deal for Miami with Hartline. They got him at below top level number 2 money and have an easy out in year 3 of the contract. Moore’s contract is essentially a 1 year $4 million dollar deal as the high cap hit in 2014 makes him a likely release. This may have been a situation where they surveyed the landscape and thought his was he best fit and to approach it again next year. Miami went with extremely low year 1 cap charges for the two players all things considered, taking up just $4.615 million in cap space. Considering Miami’s cap situation it might mean that they will spend heavily in free agency.

New York Jets– The Jets tendered RT Austin Howard at the 2nd round level, which may be a bit shortsighted considering their salary cap space, or lack thereof. They may have been worried about a team signing him to a high cap charge year 1 contract that the Jets would be unable to match. No chance that he would draw any interest with a 2nd round price tag. The Jets also signed QB David Garrard to come in and join the QB carousel. The Jets are getting dangerously low in cap room where they may not have the room necessary to trade CB Darrelle Revis. The Jets need $3 million in cap space to trade Revis. They have a number of contracts that they can rework which would seem to be a priority if they want to sign anyone in the next few days. The Jets are asking WR Santonio Holmes to take a paycut.

Baltimore Ravens– The Ravens have tried for some time to get WR Anquan Boldin to accept a paycut which he refused to do, leading to his trade from the team. Boldin had been somewhat of disappointment since leaving the Arizona Cardinals but then made up for it with a great playoff run that culminated in the Super Bowl.  The trade will be made official once Boldin passes a physical with the 49’ers. The Ravens will clear $6 million in cap room once the trade is official. The Ravens also tendered Ed Dickson today.

Tennessee Titans– Jay Glazer announced that G Steve Hutchinson will announce his retirement tomorrow. Hutchinson will save the Titans $3.75 million in cap room.

Denver BroncosAndrew already covered of what went on in Denver as they are creating enough cap room to go out and do something big if they want to. I would imagine a lot of Revis speculation in the coming days. He is a perfect fit and they have a cap system that can absorb him if they desire. The Broncos continue to try to get DE Elvis Dumervil to take a paycut. Both sides have their own leverage here. The Broncos have no reason to keep the inconsistent player and could look for a cheaper veteran such as Dwight Freeney to replace him. Dumervil, as a young pass rusher, can likely get his full $12 million salary from another team if he hits free agency. My guess is Denver will not do anything with him until they are assured of a replacement.