Stock Up: Week 14


Every Monday during the season we will take a look back at three players who are entering important stages of their contract that may have helped their stock in upcoming negotiations with their play on Sunday. In addition we will also look at one player signed in the offseason to a new contract that exceeded all expectations and provided exceptional value to his team.

Stock Up

Frank Gore– Without Frank Gore the 49ers would have lost to the Seahawks and their playoff chances would have taken a big hit. Gore rumbled for 110 yards including the 51 yard backbreaker that set up the winning field goal. It was a great run by Gore made even better when he realized he was going to get tackled from behind so rather than risk going out of bounds or getting the ball poked out he dropped to the ground and gave himself up to keep the clock moving. With the 49ers salary cap getting tight next season and Colin Kaepernick needing that running game Gore will likely get a contract extension as the Niners look to lower his $6.45 million cap charge.

Karlos Dansby– All Dansby did on Sunday was register 8 tackles, get a sack, and intercept a pass for a touchdown. I’d say that is pretty good. Dansby who now has two touchdowns on the season is just 1 touchdown behind WR Mike Wallace of Dansby’s former team. Think about that for a second. An inside linebacker playing for $2.25 million has almost as many scores as an offensive player earning $12 million. Its been an amazing turnaround for Dansby who was one of the most overpaid players in Miami who is now one of the most underpaid in Arizona. He’s in line again for a longer term contract next season and with the way he is playing it will likely be a big raise from his current one year deal.

Roddy White– I have touched on White’s contract situation before and how he will either be extended or released, but he’s making a hard push for a nice extension with his last two games. With the Falcons battling the elements and lack of weapons White was the main target and caught 8 passes for 74 yards. This brings his two week total to 18 receptions for 217 yards, which are vintage numbers for White. He has battled injuries this year but can use the final three weeks of the season to state his case that he is still a perfect complement to Julio Jones.


New Contract Player Of The Week

John Abraham– Abraham was released by the Atlanta Falcons over the cost of his contract and probably his age as well. They wanted to get younger along their line and cut the 35 year old loose. After garnering little interest around the league the Cardinals offered him $1 million guaranteed and $2.1 million total for the year to try out for Arizona. He’s been one of the best bargains in the NFL this season and notched 3 sacks this week against the Rams to bring  his season total to 11. With 3 games to go he should end up with the second highest total of his career. Arizona has him under contract for $2.5 million plus bonus clauses next season if he continues to play in the NFL.



Stock Up: Week 12


Every Monday during the season we will take a look back at three players who are entering important stages of their contract that may have helped their stock in upcoming negotiations with their play on Sunday. In addition we will also look at one player signed in the offseason to a new contract that exceeded all expectations and provided exceptional value to his team.

Stock Up

Knowshon Moreno– Moreno ate up the Patriots last night rushing for 224 yards. He has been a beast all season, resembling nothing of the frustrating player that has suited up for Denver since 2009. Moreno gained more yards on the ground than Peyton Manning threw for in the air and he is averaging over 74 yards a game. He’s also added almost 350 yards receiving as well. Moreno’s contract will void this offseason making him an unrestricted free agent so his rebirth is coming at the perfect moment. He apparently was injured in the overtime and hopefully it is nothing serious but he has more than earned a new contract with his play in 2013.

Karlos Dansby– I have to imagine Dolphins fans are wondering where this player was in Miami because he has been a very good player and excellent fit inside the Cardinals defense. Dansby was signed to a low cost one year contract in Arizona this offseason and has far exceeded the contract this year with his play. On Sunday Dansby was credited with five solo tackles and had an interception that he returned for a touchdown. The touchdown broke the game wide open giving the Cardinals an insurmountable 21 point lead. He leads all linebackers this year in both unassisted tackled and passes broken up. Dansby isn’t a young man anymore but he has probably earned himself a two or three year contract based on his play with the Cardinals.

Brandon Marshall– On a day where little went right for Chicago, Marshall continued his dominant season with 10 catches for 117 yards, his 3rd 100 yard game in the last 4 games. Marshall has one year remaining on his contract after this season and with the Bears in a state of flux it is very likely that Marshall could see himself with a new contract either with Chicago or another team if he is traded in the offseason. Marshall has been a model citizen since leaving Miami and ranks second in the NFL in receptions and 9th in yards. His production is consistent year after year and shows no signs of going down. Most important he is one of the rare players in the NFL that seems QB proof in that the production remains constant regardless of who he plays with.


New Contract Player Of The Week

Ryan Fitzpatrick– I’ve always given Fitzpatrick a lot of grief for somehow tricking the Buffalo Bills into paying him as a true starting Quarterback off a few game hot streak despite years of being relegated  to backup status. On Sunday, however, there was no doubt that Fitzpatrick played to the level of that contract, even if that contract does not exist anymore. Signed in the offseason as insurance for injury prone Jake Locker Fitzpatrick revived the Titans playoff chances with a 320 yard, two touchdown game that his team won in the final seconds on the road against the Raiders. You can not ask for more than that out of anyone.



What Teams Will Gain in Cap Space with the June 1 Cut


With June 1 rapidly approaching I thought this would be a good time to update on the salary cap changes that will occur for a number of teams as well as some other thoughts on the subject. On June 1 the league changes their accounting rules for acceleration of prorated bonus money. If a player is cut prior to June 1 all of a players unaccounted for bonus money accelerates onto the salary cap. If a player is cut after June 1 the players unaccounted for money accelerates to the following season (in this case 2014) with only his current proration remaining on the 2013 cap books.

The NFL allows teams to cut up to two players prior to June 1 and designate them “June 1 cuts”. If this mechanism is used the team carries the players’ full cap charge in their top 51 until June 1. On June 2 the player is officially removed from the roster with only his current years proration remaining on the books and in many cases a dramatic increase in cap space for cap starved teams that need to sign rookies or have money on hand for in season roster management. 10 teams utilized the June 1 designation, with the Dolphins being the only team to use it on two players.

For many of the teams the money is desperately needed. The Oakland Raiders have yet to sign a draft pick as they remain right around the NFL’s cap limit, but on June 2 their cap will grow to about $7.86 million after Michael Huff drops off the books. The Steelers with almost no breathing room and less than $600,000 in cap room with 4 picks to sign will now have $5.59 million to spend, due to the June 1 treatment of Willie Colon. The Chargers, the other cap strapped team with less than $1 million in room, will remove Jared Gaither to jump to $4.65 million in cap space.  The other teams with limited cap funds that will benefit from the June 1 rule are the Falcons and Ravens, both of whom currently have around $2 million in cap space.

Other teams such as the Bills and Dolphins will see large increases that will jump them very close to the top of the NFL in cap space. The Dolphins will jump from 15th to 7th in the NFL in cap space while the Bills will go from 7th to 5th. This is primarily because of the large cap investments that the teams’ made in mediocre players. Ryan Fitzpatrick current sits as the 2nd largest cap charge on the Bills active roster while Karlos Dansby has the highest cap figure of any Dolphin. Huff of the Raiders also ranks as the highest cap charge on his team.

Most of the players are all good enough to find another job in the NFL, only Gaither has not found a team willing to take him, but only 5 received multi-year contracts and the highest cap charge to be found is Tyson Clabo, now of the Dolphins, at $3.5 million. The June 1 rule really illustrates the mistakes that teams make when valuing players and structuring contracts. While Dansby, Huff, and Fitzpatrick were outrageous figures, 6 of the June 1 cuts still take up a top 5 cap spot on the active roster and 9 are in the top 10. The following table shows the amount of estimated cap space that was to be spent on these players, dead money the teams will carry, and how much cap new teams are going to pay these players this season:



Original Cap Charge


2013 Dead Money


2014 Dead Money


New Team 2013 Cap


So the cutting teams will carry more dead money this year than the players will collectively make from their new teams to play in the NFL. The league valued these players at 74.3% less than the teams original projections. Assuming that the average salary for the group in 2014 is $1 million each then those players will play football over a 2 year period for 50% less than the dead money totals that the original teams will now carry in 2013 and 2014. That’s one of the reasons why when we do some of the valuations on the site from a team perspective we try to take into account future productivity as this was, for the most part, money thrown away on players. These are the type of contracts that get General Managers fired over the long run.

As for the June 1 cuts themselves here is the list of players that will be removed on June 2 and what the projected cap totals for the teams will be based on the official salary cap numbers as of May 28, 2013.


Current Charge

New Charge


New Team Cap Space

James AndersonPanthers





Michael HuffRaiders





Bernard PollardRavens





Ryan FitzpatrickBills





Karlos DansbyDolphins





Kevin BurnettDolphins





Willie ColonSteelers





Jared GaitherChargers





Tyson ClaboFalcons





Marcus SpearsCowboys





Adam SnyderCardinals






Do the Miami Dolphins Need to Sign Branden Albert Before a Trade?


I read a number of tweets today discussing the potential Branden Albert to Miami trade with points being made that the Dolphins would need to re-work his contract before any deal could be made due to cap purposes. I wanted to touch on a few angles to this and why I disagree.

First of all lets just look at the non-cap approach. Why does a deal need to be made to extend Albert?  The answer is it does not. Albert has signed his franchise tender and is officially under contract to the Kansas City Chiefs. He is obligated to appear at mandatory team activities, report to training camp, and play in the 2013 league year. Those same obligations transfer to Miami if traded. Albert could be looking for a contract that is outlandish in today’s market making the cost of re-signing him prohibitive.

The largest deal signed this year by a lineman was by former Dolphin Jake Long whose 4 year contract averages $8.5 million per year with only $12 million in firm guarantees. Albert already had $9.828 million guaranteed. The second largest contract was signed by RT Gosder Cherilus averaging $7 million a year with $15.5 million guaranteed. So signing Albert to a long term deal in the next week could be more trouble than its worth.

One should also keep in mind that this is Miami and they have been willing to play guys on deals like this in the past. In 2011 they allowed DT Paul Soliai to play out the season on a franchise tag worth over $12 million dollars. He ended up re-signing with the team on a two year deal worth a total $11.5 million. Good cap management and planning?  Absolutely not, but if it was good for Soliai why wouldn’t it be good for Albert?

Going into the salary cap aspect there is the thought that Alberts $9.828 million dollar cap hit is far too much for Miami to absorb, specifically with a large rookie bill due in July.  I want to look at this from two perspectives. The prevailing line of thinking has the Dolphins with about $8.3 million in cap room. This is based on NFLPA records and NFLPA accounting. I’ll mainly work with that figure, but my interpretation of the CBA indicates that there is a potential error in their accounting system.

When a player is designated a June cut here is how the CBA states the contract should be handled:

as if terminated on June 2, i.e., the Salary Cap charge for each such contract will remain in the Club’s Team Salary until June 2, at which time its Paragraph 5 Salary and any unearned LTBE incentives will no longer be counted and any unamortized signing bonus will be treated as set forth in Subsection (2) below

To me that indicates that the contract runs as if terminated on June 2 meaning the player should count in the top 51 during this time. Such a method of accounting makes intuitive sense because you are penalizing a teams cap by removing the cap from the top 51 and into the “dead money category” and replacing him with a player making at least $405,000. The NFLPA accounts for them as if they are dead money. Miami has two such players which would mean that Miami could be charged an extra $960,000 than they should be compared to the leagues official records. If that is the case Miami’s cap is closer to $9.3 million.

But assuming $8.3 million is the number let’s play the trade out. If Albert comes to Miami he immediately replaces the 51st player on the team, which would be Jonathan Freeny at $480,000. That brings Albert’s net effect on the cap down to $9.348 million, leaving Miami with just $1 million or so to come up with. As you look through Miami’s cap sheet there are a number of players who immediately come to mind as reasonable cuts to gain that cap space.

K Dan Carpenter, very inconsistent in 2012, saves the team $2.7 million if released. WR Davone Bess who would look to be odd man at wideout anyway saves Miami $2.68 million in cap room. Of course cutting them means Freeny’s $480K jumps back on the cap but its still more than enough to bring Albert in at his current cap figure. Those two players both have base salaries above $2 million which could make both prime candidates for paycuts if you wanted to keep them on the roster and not impact the top 51 makeup. Combining a paycut with the release of LS John Denney might also do the trick. Dimitri Patterson and his $4.5 million dollar P5 could also be looked at though the Dolphins are a bit thin in the secondary.

Going back to the June 1 cut rules, remember that Miami has large figures coming off the cap on June 2. On June 2nd both Karlos Dansby and Kevin Burnett will come off the books for the Dolphins. Dansby saves $6.25 million while Burnett saves $4.45 million. Since the NFLPA already has their replacements accounted for that opens the Dolphins up to $10.7 million in salary cap space.

Assuming the Dolphins trade their highest 2nd round pick for Albert their rookie pool would be estimated to be around $6.3 million for 10 players. Since the top 51 rule still applies those players will either displace a lower cost player or only have their prorated money count towards the salary cap. Per my calculations the draft class will likely replace 5 players, each making $480,000 in P5 salary, with the bottom 5 only having bonus prorations count. So for as big as that $6.3 million figure looks the Dolphins only need around $1.9 million in cap room to really sign all these players.

While I have been critical in the past about the way the Dolphins have managed the salary cap, if this was the plan back when they cut Dansby and Burnett it was tremendous cap planning by Jeff Ireland. Nobody could really understand why Miami designated those players June 1 cuts but it clearly has left Miami with the room to absorb a franchise player like Albert and still have the cap space to function throughout the entire 2013 season. That $10.7 million is more than enough to sign rookies, bring 53 to the roster, add a Practice Squad, and have money reserved for in season injuries and subsequent moves.

So really there is nothing standing in the way of a trade for Albert besides the cut or a paycut of one player. That’s really all it will take. Like I stated when discussing the Darrelle Revis trade, if you really want the guy go get him. The contract can always sort itself out later if need be. The player has little power to block a trade or not suit up and play. Miami has tried to build a team via free agency this year to compete now. They definitely do not need Albert to sign long term to add him to the mix.