Twitter Q&A and An Introduction- March 5

Well before we get started I’d like to introduce everyone to Jim who is one of the new contributing writers on the site. Jim is a big Raiders fan and an amateur capologist. He’ll be popping in from time to time with his thoughts on the cap and probably doing quite a bit of Raiders related posts, as the Raiders are always a hot salary cap topic. Unfortunately for Jim its rarely positive but one of these days it has to.  Onto the Q&A:

33,( who looks like a big Tony Dorsett fan)- Does the cap increase in the next several years? If so, how does this play into the process of cap planning?

Thats a great question and its one that I certainly can’t fully answer. While the cap does increase every year the projections seem to be that it will remain pretty flat even as the new TV contracts roll in. The union has had to make a number of concessions to get the cap to be even where it is today so my guess is there will be limited growth. That being said projections are nothing more than educated guesses and can change at ant time.

As for the second part of the question it absolutely plays a role. As the salary cap inflates so can contracts. It is far better for a team to shuffle cap dollars to the future because those cap dollars will, in theory, eat up much less of a percentage of the cap than they would in the present. Back in 2006 when the new CBA went into effect teams planned contracts with a certain projection in mind, but by 2007 when the cap begin rising substantially so did the pushing of money and contract values. The problem for teams now is that the cap remains at the same levels at 2009 but star player salaries keep rising. That was one of the points I was trying to make on the Flacco contract. When Eli Manning signed his record breaking deal worth $16.25 million it was on a cap of $123 million rising $5-6 million a year.  The pushing of salaries from that period have essentially made that contract worth nearly $21 million a year but, with a flat cap, it eats up a far larger percentage. To try to protect themselves from that reality the Ravens designed the cap hits of the contract to remain low for the next three years hoping that by 2016 the cap grows substantially making Flacco’s high end numbers seem more reasonable.

From @ross_christie- How much of a contract will a player actually get? Is it just the guaranteed money?

Depends on the quality of player and structure of the contract. If you look at our releases page you can get a good idea as to just how much players earn before being released. Most probably earn around 50% of the contract and in many cases that is because of the protection that was built into the contract. Players that have strong representation, especially those who negotiate with weaker front offices, are able to craft player friendly contracts that make it difficult to release the players. The fact that signing bonus money is prorated and all accelerates onto the cap if released provides another layer of contract protection besides just the fully guaranteed money.  A player that can negotiate a large signing bonus in conjunction with fully guaranteed salary will most likely earn more than players with more guaranteed money but no bonus protection. I would say that it is pretty rare for a player to actually play out his entire contract without ever having a paycut.

From @WeightyThings- For Bowe’s contract structure, what do you think their primary concern was in organizing it? Any player contracts coming up?

I think their main concern was getting a cap friendly deal in year 1, which they accomplished with a $4 million dollar cap hit in year 1. The Chiefs dont really have any cap issues on the horizon so they knew they could deal with the higher cap hits in years 2-5. This maximizes their chances to attract free agents and change the culture in Kansas City.

From @Dessedrengen- how is it possible for Dallas to get under 123.0 when they are at about 126 now, and then the cap penalty?(10mil$ if I guess)

The Cowboys cap penalty this year is $5 million and their adjusted cap, after carryovers, should be around $120.3 million. They did get under the cap for a brief moment before tagging Anthony Spencer. I estimate them to be around $5.6 million over the cap. I cant really see how they will get under the cap without extending Tony Romo. They were going to pay him  ton anyway, but I have a feeling it will be even more now. Romo has all the leverage in the world because Dallas has almost no other options as they have restructured almost everybody on the team. Statistically he can point to Flacco and state a case he deserves close to that, though Romo is older so I cant see that working. Other options would be to restructure Doug Free but he already has a large dead money hit close to $4 million in 2015 at which point his contract should void. Its ugly in Dallas and only going to get worse

From @WeightyThings(a 2nd questions)- Now that Tyson Jackson is back at 5.2 million, what is the Chiefs salary cap looking?

Sometimes initial reports can be wrong, but based on what was reported the Chiefs gained at least $9 million in cap space. It is likely more than that as the way the reports have been worded make me think he needs to reach certain performance levels to even earn that much. If that is the case they will save more against this year cap. The team probably has around $12.5 million though that does not include the deal for Alex Smith.

From L_A_RAIDERS-  The New Regime has only been here 1 year…isnt that statement a little pre mature?? What Crazy contract has Reggie Handed out?

This was in reference to a statement I made on the Raiders decision to continue to not release players but instead keep extending. Its a fair question. I think when you have a situation as bad as the Raiders you have to be willing to make very difficult decisions. They continued to make many of the same moves as the previous regimes. In Richard Seymour’s case they added another void season onto the end of his contract to just increase the inevitable dead money in 2013, which is close to $14 million. They re-signed LB Aaron Curry, who had shown nothing, to a deal that contained 3 voidable contract years and they fully guaranteed his 2012 base salary. He was gone by November. They used a similar void trick to bring Carson Palmers numbers down in 2012 which has just added to more dead money issues either in 2013 or 2014. I just think the abuse of these void years and salary conversions makes it impossible to ever get out of this hole and based on the most recent restructure of a player that most Raider fans seem to think doesnt even fit their offense it just seems to be the same approach. Maybe the moves of 2012 were done out of absolute necessity, but this last one was not.

From @Donkey_Kang With the inflated price of cornerbacks is it more likely the Chargers draft one in first 2 rounds than sign one for big money?

I could see salary cap playing a role for some teams in the draft but I have to think the Chargers are simply in BAP mode. But as a general question if you can find a QB, DE, CB, or WR in the draft you are well ahead of the game in your positional spending. The ability to have rookie contracts playing those position is a huge advantage.

Feel free to keep asking me questions either on Twitter, email, or in postings. Ill try to answer them as best I can in the future.


Dwayne Bowe Cashes In

Thanks to Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk the full details of the Dwayne Bowe extension are now available.  Bowe will now become the 3rd highest paid WR in the league on a 5 year $56 million dollar contract. The deal contains $20 million in full guarantees and significantly more in virtual guarantees. It comes very close to the deal I suggested of 5 years $57.8 million with 20 million in full guarantees and $38 million in the first three years. My guess is he could have gotten a touch extra in free agency but normally players do give slight discounts to home teams to take the question mark out of the whole process and that is what happened here. Based on Florio’s report this is the cap structure for Bowe over the next 5 years:

Base SalaryProrated WorkoutCap ChargeDead MoneySavingsCash Flow

The important contract to compare this to is that of Vincent Jackson. Jackson received $26 million in full guarantees when he signed with $36 million due in the first three years. Jackson received no signing bonus on the initial deal but did restructure in December to gain prorated money protection in his contract. Because prorated money accelerates when a player is cut it adds a layer of protection to a contract in addition to the real guarantees. One of the reasons Jackson surpasses Bowe in real guarantees is because he had zero protection for his third year salary since there was no dead money cost associated with releasing him, something I had touched on in the Bowe valuation from a few weeks ago.

Bowe has that protection. Even compared to Jackson’s current deal Bowe will carry a $9 million dollar dead cap hit in 2015 plus an additional $1.5 million in salary that will become fully guaranteed in early 2014 according to Florio. That means Bowe, if on the team in 2014, will carry an $11.5 million dollar dead cap charge to cut. Jackson is only protected to the tune of $7.296 million. It makes this a much stronger contract for Bowe.

Now that the market is clearly intact Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings will try to state their cases that they deserve this kind of money. Personally I feel Bowe is a better player based on a number of statistical factors, but all it takes is one team to think otherwise to get a bigger deal done.


Recapping Todays News… Chiefs, Cowboys, Saints and more…

Today was the last day to designate a player a franchise or transition player which probably had a number of potential free agents anxiously waiting to hear if they were truly free or confined by the tag. While there were some moves made at the last minute many of the names that had been discussed in recent days, such as Greg Jennings, Aqib Talib, Jake Long, Sean Smith, and so on made out without getting franchised.

Kansas City Chiefs– The  most active team of the day the Chiefs locked up WR Dwayne Bowe to a 5 year contract and P Dustin Colquitt to a contract that should make him the highest paid Punter in the NFL. The ability to lock up up Bowe allowed the Chiefs to place the franchise tag on T Branden Albert.

While there have not been concrete terms on Bowe’s contract I have seen the numbers 5 years for $50 million floating around on Twitter. If that is the deal signed it will be a good deal for the Chiefs and probably signal a bad sign for Mike Wallace and Greg Jennings who were hoping to break the bank. They needed Bowe to pushed past Vincent Jackson and $10 million a year does not even come close. Now it is possible that the guarantees are similar as Jackson’s deal was originally a two year contract disguised as a 5 year contract prior to his late season renegotiation, but $50 million shows a depressed market possibility for the position. That said many times when contracts numbers like this just float around they prove to be false so we will just need to wait and see.

The Chiefs should still be  in a decent cap position even with the trade for Alex Smith on the horizon.  Once the team releases Tyson Jackson and Matt Cassel they will free up $20.845 million on the cap. Both moves seem like no brainers.

Dallas Cowboys– One step forward two steps back?  Dallas just seems like such a poorly managed team. Today the team cut S Gerald Sensabaugh to free up $1.4 million in cap room, their first real solid roster transaction of the offseason. They spent two or three days last week extending and/or restructuring contracts to get cap compliant and then they decided to again designate DE/LB a franchise player. This time around the tag should cost the team $10,272,200 which seems absurd for a team with salary cap problems. Can Spencer play in the new defense?  I would think so, but this is not a team that can really afford these luxuries.

This isnt a team in a championship game that wants to make one more run. I almost feel as if the owner still thinks its 2007 when Dallas played like an elite team with a young Tony Romo at the helm. They have not had a winning record in 3 years and when that happens you need to start making the tough decisions to not bring back players that are going to kill your financial structure down the line. This move puts Dallas back over the salary cap meaning more restructures. Romo is the one they need to get done and now they gave him even more leverage to make a killing. Even if they are going to entertain trading Spencer the damage is done because they need to get under the cap before a trade can occur. If this team doesn’t win next year its going to get ugly in Dallas which is rapidly turning into the Oakland Raiders of 2004-2011.

New Orleans Saints– The Saints reportedly restructured the contract of Brodrick Bunkley according to Mike Triplett of I’ll get the details up on the site in the next day or two but this is a team also living in the past. This move more or less guarantees Bunkley a roster spot in 2014 at a cap number above $6 million, a year where the Saints already have $126 million in cap commitments for just 39 players. To go further in on defensive players on an awful defense seems pretty illogical. I guess they are blaming everything on Steve Spagnuolo, disregarding the fact that the defense was pretty bad for about 5 years I guess you can argue that Bunkley was their best defender.

Miami Dolphins– The Dolphins franchised DT Randy Starks which puts the Dolphins interior line investments upwards of $17 million, 2nd highest in the NFL to only the Detroit Lions who have over $18 million tied up in Suh alone. With more and more teams passing the football and running alot less, I think it questions the philosophy of investing high in the interior unless it is for the rare players who are real game wreckers that can rush up the middle.

I understand the decision and financially it makes more sense to do this with Starks and try to work out a long term deal than overspending on Smith or Long on one year deals, but I think it definitely brings up a good positional spending debate. As the run offense went out of style in the mid 2000s the pay has clearly cycled away from the DT and out to the CBs. Miami is taking the opposite approach. The Dolphins now have about $57 million tied up in their defense with only $26 million in the offense, the lowest amount in the NFL. Clearly the rest of their spending needs to be on the offensive side of the ball.

Oakland Raiders– The Raiders reduced the salary of G Mike Brisiel by $3 million dollars. The move was first reported by Steve Corkran and he stated that this will save Oakland $3 million which would indicate a pure paycut rather than restructure. My experience would tell me hs got something in return, but that’s just a guess on my part.  I have not updated his cap number yet and will try to see if I can verify that he accepted a paycut, but if not Ill run with that number until I hear otherwise.

Carolina Panthers– I just wanted to throw this one in there because I know of all the teams this is probably the one with the largest discrepancy between the sites numbers and the reports. I do know that the figures we have are estimating Carolina between 1.5 and 2 million on the low end showing them with more cap room than they really have. I am not sure where the error is and whether I am missing a big dead money player or some type of incentives but I will try to work that out to get the number closer to the actual charge.


Roster Cut Recaps: Kansas City Chiefs

Usually when you picking at number 1 in the draft it means many veteran players will be let go prior to the start of free agency and the Chiefs began to get to work today to fix the mistakes of the past.

TE Kevin Boss was released from his three year contract after completing just one season for Kansas City. Boss was injured most of the season and did not factor into future plans.  Boss will carry a dead money charge slightly over $1.16 million but saved the team $1.948 million in cap room.

WR Steve Breaston lasted all of two years with the club before getting released. Breaston, who was never a factor in the passing game, received a $5 million dollar sighing bonus in 2011 and will carry a $3 million dollar dead cap charge in 2013 for the Chiefs. The Chiefs saved $2 million in cap room by releasing him

Kansas City should be around $15 million in cap room based on a $121.1 million dollar cap. Next on their cutting list should be first round bust Tyson Jackson. Releasing Jackson would save the team $14.97 million in both cash and cap.