Stock Down: Week 8


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 hurt 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 did not live up to the expectations that his contract sets for the player.

Stock Down

Mike Vick– Vick had two things he had to do this season. The first was to be effective as a starting QB and the second was to actually play in a majority of games. In general he has failed in both regards. Vick was inconsistent during the first few weeks of the season, at times dazzling and at times dreadful, which has been the story of his career. He looked terrible at the start of Sundays game before aggravating his hamstring injury and being forced to the bench again. He’s now missed a portion of at least 4 games this year. A team can not commit to a left handed, run first QB that is constantly injured. At best Vick is a piece you can bring in and hope to get something out of, but you can’t spend much money on him and you need to have a capable backup that can somehow run the same style offense. His options will be limited.  He played this year for a maximum of $7.5 million. He probably will not come close to that in 2014.

Marcedes Lewis– One of the most overpriced Tight End contracts will soon be coming to an end as Lewis’ dead money figure is just $2.8 million in 2014. Lewis has missed most of the season with a calf injury caught just 1 pass for 6 yards in the blowout loss to the 49ers, bringing his season total to just 2 receptions. Pro Football Focus graded Lewis negative in the run blocking game as well, which had been the one thing he had done well over the last few seasons. Scheduled to earn $6.85 million next year he may have a difficult time earning anything more than a token bonus if these numbers persist for the rest of the season.

Antonio Cromartie– This will be at least the second time Cromartie’s name has come up in this section. He is having a downright awful season. He looks to have lost significant speed and is basically getting caught grabbing at guys who then just run away from him. Cromartie allowed another huge reception on Sunday, this time a 53 yard pass to AJ Green where Cromartie wasn’t within 5 yards of Green who just went right by him. Scheduled to carry a $14.95 million dollar cap hit in 2014 he has no chance of playing his contract out. Though the player they drafted in the first round is struggling terribly the Jets may look at this as having a first round investment in the position and Cromartie being expendable. Even if he is not the money he will make will pale in comparison to what he received in his last extension with the team.

New Contract Disappointment Of The Week

Matt Ryan– Just last week I had put Ryan in the Stock Up category and boy does that look like a mistake now. Ryan looked to be in control at home without his favorite targets, but on the road against a good defense he looked anything but. His 4 interceptions were one off his career high and the overall performance was likely the worst of his career. When a team commits the kind of money they sunk into Ryan the expectation has to be that the QB can perform at a high level even when his targets begin to get injured. Aaron Rodgers was able to do it this week and others have been able to do that in the past. If Ryan needs to have three superstar receivers at all times the contract is going to be an albatross for the Falcons. He needs to bounce back over the next few weeks.

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What Lies Ahead for Rams QB Sam Bradford


Injuries in the NFL are an ugly and often costly event. In some cases teams overlook injuries when the body of work is so strong that a team believes an injury will have no material impact on a players’ performance level. Such was the case with Peyton Manning when  he signed with Denver in 2012. But in most cases players do not have that kind of body of work to fall back on. Such is the case of Sam Bradford.

Bradford tore his ACL during the loss to the Carolina Panthers on Sunday and is lost for the season. The injury comes at a critical junction of his career as Bradford was headed into the first portion of his contract where he can become expendable for salary cap purposes. Bradford, the final number one pick of the 2006 CBA, was given a financial windfall due to his draft status. His contract was worth $78 million over 6 seasons and $51 million was guaranteed. The following years’ number one pick would only receive a contract worth about $22 million.

Bradford has had a pretty rocky start to his NFL career. He played well as a rookie in 2010 and looked poised to be a quality starter in the NFL. By the end of 2011 there were questions about if Bradford could succeed at this level and the Rams actually faced a decision to potentially trade away Bradford and select Robert Griffin III as his replacement in 2012. The Rams chose to stick with Bradford, who showed improvements under a new coaching staff but failed to ever create the feeling that he was definitely the guy for the job. Bradford seemed to be more Mark Sanchez than Eli Manning with the prevailing notion being that he needed more parts on offense to be properly evaluated.

After 7 games in 2013 the same questions remain about whether or not Bradford could succeed with a better team or if he would just continue to be a caretaker of an offense. Bradford’s salary cap figure in 2014 is $17,610,000, an unreasonable figure for a team with a number of high priced contracts. He would earn just upwards of $14 million in cash if he made the team. A good season and he was likely in line for a short term 3 year extension that would fall somewhere between the Sanchez and Matt Stafford extensions given for salary cap relief purposes, meaning more guaranteed money in return for cap flexibility for the Rams.

Bradford now faces a difficult road ahead. The ACL injury marks his second injury in the NFL in just four years that will cause him to miss significant time. There was also the college injury that sidelined him for nearly a full season. From this point forward I think he has to carry the injury prone label that have hurt many other players in the NFL.  His dead money charge is down to a more manageable $7.19 million if released, a number that could be split across two seasons if the Rams were to wait until after June 1 to unload him.

What makes it more difficult for Bradford is that he has little to fall back on. The Rams were not a good team before his injury. Pro Football Focus had rated him as the 30th QB in the NFL, which was actually worse than their grade on him the year before. This was after bringing in a left tackle and tight end to help him. In addition the Rams not only are on pace to finish the year with a losing record, but they also own the first round draft pick of the Washington Redskins, who currently have two wins on the season. The ammunition will be there to draft a QB.

Whenever I think of injuries to a QB I am always reminded of Chad Pennington of the New York Jets many years ago. Pennington was a former first round draft selection who rode the bench for two years before taking over the job and leading the Jets to an improbable division title and playoff run in 2002. Pennington would get injured in 2003, but between the draft status and 2002 efforts the Jets rewarded him with a lucrative $64 million dollar extension in 2004 with an $18 million dollar signing bonus.

Pennington would go on to injure his shoulder in both 2004 and 2005 with the Jets having paid him $22 million dollars for a total of 16 regular season games.  They were prepared to move on in 2006 rather than to throw more money at what looked like an average QB that could not play an entire season. His cap charge and dead money was an equal $12 million and the Jets would save $9 million in cash by parting ways.

Pennington had no recourse but to take a $6 million dollar paycut in 2006 to have a chance to remain with the Jets. At that point he knew his career was damaged badly by the injuries and general mediocre play and that his best chance to resurrect his career was with the Jets. The Jets would give him opportunities to earn the $6 million back through playtime incentives and to earn other lost salaries in future years back through playtime escalators. The Jets still traded for Patrick Ramsey and drafted Kellen Clemens in the 2nd round knowing that Pennington would not be handed the starting job. To Pennington’s credit he played 16 games in 2006 to earn his money back. He would subsequently suffer a small ankle injury in 2007 with the Jets and then major injuries in 2009 and 2010 as a member of the Miami Dolphins.

Though Bradford’s latest injury is different than Pennington’s  there has to be concerns with a player who has given the team 33 games in 3 years with a record of 11-21. In that timeframe the Rams have paid Bradford nearly $48 million dollars. The Rams have to take a pessimistic view of his future just as the Jets did with Pennington and not sink more money after a bad investment.

Bradford’s only real quality at this point is his draft status. If he was a second round pick this would not even be a discussion. But teams will feel there is something there that deserves a second chance, a chance almost every first rounder with a pulse receives.  But like Pennington he’ll need to take a significant paycut from the $14 million he would have earned in 2014 prior to  the injury and like Pennington his best chance to keep a job may come by staying with his team provided they are not in a position to draft a QB in round 1.

Pennington was asked to covert two thirds of his salary back in 2006 to an incentive. Pennington had been to the playoffs twice in his career when that occurred with a 21-16 record as a starter. But he also did not have the same physical tools as Bradford and had an injury that impaired his passing more than it should hamper Bradford’s. Another more recent point of reference would be that of Mike Vick, another often injured QB. Vick had over 50% of his salary cut from his contract in 2013.  Vick received $3.5 million guaranteed while Pennington received $2.45 million guaranteed. Vick is older than Bradford but also a more electric player with much more history behind him.

Using those numbers as a guide Bradford is probably looking at a salary shift from $14 million to somewhere in the ballpark of $5.5 million.  If they guaranteed $3 million of that figure they could get his cap hit down from $17 million to a manageable $7.595 million, which is essentially the cost of releasing him and replacing him with a minimum salaried player. I would imagine if the sides agreed to that he would get the 2015 year in the contract to void, similar to the Vick contract. The Rams have done this type of contract with other players including T Jason Smith, a bust drafted with the second overall pick in 2009, so it would seem to fit with their cap philosophies.



Jets Look to Restructure Contract of Santonio Holmes

I already had plenty written on this possibility about a month ago over on Nyjetscap, but I thought it might be worth outlining here as well since Adam Schefter did confirm that the Jets are looking to restructure the contract of WR Santonio Holmes.

Holmes is set to earn $11.25 million in cash payments in 2013 under the terms of his current contract and count for a whopping $12.5 million against the teams salary cap. Since signing his $45 million dollar contract in 2011 Holmes has been ineffective and a perceived locker room cancer before suffering an injury in a loss against the San Francisco 49ers which led to one of the more bizarre outcomes ever in which Holmes just gave the ball up while going down in pain leading to an easy score for the 49ers. The injury cost Holmes the season and it has been a slow recovery process, with Holmes set to begin jogging in April.

Of Holmes’ salary  there are $7.75 million in guarantees, which are comprised of fully guaranteed base salary of $7.5 million and a $250,000 injury guaranteed workout bonus which is probably functionally guaranteed now since Holmes’ injury will likely prevent him from working out for another team. Holmes guarantee, unlike those of many of his teammates, contains offset provisions which means he can not double dip on his salary, effectively capping off his compensation this year at $7.75 million whether it is with the Jets or another team. That leads me to believe that a restructure would simply be taking the difference of $3.5 million and turning it into either a roster bonus in 2014, guaranteeing his release from the team next year or into a set of not likely to be earned incentives that he can earn back if he plays well this season. Such a restructuring would reduce his cap number to a more manageable $9 million.

Though many would say Holmes will be hesitant to agree he has little options. The Jets are in a position where releasing him would actually give them cap room and in the long run remove their cash obligation to Holmes who would at some point in the coming months sign with another team. Any move to another team would take Holmes’ contract value out of the top tier, which is important to players, and into the bottom tier, quite a drop for a former Super Bowl MVP. The one benefit he would have by playing on another team is the ability to work with a better QB and perhaps pad his statistics, though the Jets would be the only team to give him a number 1 label. Other teams, such as the Cowboys, would view more as a compliment to a better Wide Receiver.

I do think it is worth noting that Holmes’ agent, Joel Segal, also represents the Eagles Michael Vick. Vick was in a similar situation to Holmes in that he had a bloated salary with offset containing guarantees. Early posturing by Vick indicated that he would not play for a penny less than his contract called for in Philadelphia, but at the end of the day he took a significant paycut with the option to earn a little back in incentives. In return the Eagles allowed him to void his contract and become a free agent next season. This renegotiation will clearly be a point of reference used by the Jets during their talks about Holmes.

If Holmes is agreeable to remaining with the Jets and working with them on the salary cap there are a large number of ways in which the Jets can use his injury as a way to build cap flexibility into their 2013 salary cap via the use of NLTBE incentives with low performance thresholds. Holmes was only active for 4 games which resulted in 20 receptions for 272 yards. Using per game roster bonuses or incentive payments for things like 25 receptions or 300 yards would avoid salary cap charges in 2013 and push them to 2014 when the Jets have more cap flexibility. In the event the injury worried Holmes the Jets could back these NLTBEs up with future guaranteed salary that would void if the incentives were earned, creating a win-win for both sides. Of course all these cap scenarios require a good relationship between the two sides and that may be a stretch as we sit here waiting for the new League Year to begin.


Pro Football Talk Sheds More Light on Vicks New Contract

Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk breaks down the particulars of Mike Vick’s new contract in his latest posting over at PFT. According to Florio Vick will receive

$3.5 million in base salary, $3.5 million as a signing bonus and a slew of incentives to max the contract out at $10 million. The easiest to achieve is the $500,000 in gameday active roster bonuses and the most difficult a $1 million dollar bonus if the Eagles win the Super Bowl and Vick sees significant playing time. Since Vick was active for 10 games last season his 2013 cap will reflect a $312,500 roster bonus charge. The balance will be treated as a “not likely to be earned” incentive in 2013.

Most have reported that this will be a 3 year contract that voids after one season. This structure is done for prorating bonus money more effectively. Going with that premise I have the new numbers up for Vick on the site. The new deal saves the Eagles $10,020,834 in cap room to spend in free agency in 2013, reducing Vick’s cap charge from $16.9 million  to $6.879 million. His dead money charge in 2014 will rise from $2.8 million to $5.133 million making the renegotiation a net cap gain over two years of $7.6875 million for Philadelphia.

There is a possibility that the contract contains 3 dummy years rather than 2. If that is the case his cap number will fall to $6.0875 in 2013. As we find out more on the backend void structure we will update the cap figures, but for now this should paint a clearer picture of the Eagles cap situation.


Mike Vick Restructures Contract

Jeff McClane of the Philly Inquirer I believe was the first to report  that the Eagles and QB Michael Vick agreed to terms on a new contract that should drastically reduce Vick’s salary and cap charges in 2013. The contract is technically a 3 year contract that will void to one season on March 15 of 2014 according to McClane.

The reason for such a structure is to likely protect the Eagles from acceleration of prorated money from his prior contract. A pure 1 year contract would see $2.8 million in old prorated money immediate hit the 2013 salary cap, which the Eagles would likely not want to have happen. It also keeps the avenue open to prorate slightly more of his 2013 salary if they so desire. Vick was already guaranteed $3 million in 2013 so giving him that money in the form of a signing bonus could be likely. Such a move would increase his dead money charge in 2014 to $4.8 million from its current status of $2.8 million so it would depend on the Eagles need for cap space in 2013 vs 2014.

Various Twitter reports have stated that Vick can earn “up to” $10 million this season. Whenever you hear that phrase it means the contract is heavily incentivized. Because Vick only played in 10 games last season and threw for 2,362 yards there are many types of “not likely to be earned” incentives that could go into a contract for Vick to avoid cap charges during the 2013 free agency period and not have to worry about them until adjustments are made after the season.

Depending on the structure of the deal and guarantees I would not think that anything means that he is locked in as starter in Philadelphia. This is simply a deal that gives him an opportunity to be starter in Philly. The Eagles, always proactive in their cap management, could always consider releasing Vick in the early stages of the season unless his deal contains high levels of no-offset guarantees, which I would think is unlikely.

As more information on the deal becomes available we will update Vick’s contract status and cap charges accordingly.


An Offseason Look at the Philadelphia Eagles

After slogging around the AFC for a few days we finally move onto the NFC where the Philadelphia Eagles surprisingly ended up with the worst record in the conference. I will say this for the Eagles. I think for years that they have been one of the best run franchises from a salary cap perspective. They are a tremendous organization in that respect, but I think in the last few years there has been a shift on the personnel side to be far more splashy. It has not hurt their cap one bit, but there is a reason why the “dream team” has been nothing but a nightmare.

Cap Positions

Despite having three players making more than $11 million in cap dollars in 2013 the Eagles will find themselves with a comfortable $15 million or so in cap room before making any other moves. How is that possible?  They carried over $23 million in unused cap space from 2012 due to their financial management skills. One of the most impressive moves they made last year was the dumping of Jason Babin which created just under $1.64 million in cap room last year to carry over. Babin’s salary was fully guaranteed but the Eagles felt that a team would pick up the remainder of that guarantee by claiming him off waivers. It was essentially what may have been one of the first baseball style “player for cash consideration” trades. I was stunned other teams didn’t follow the same plan after that.

The Eagles have the ability to get well below the salary cap and become major players in free agency if that is what they want to do. The Eagles allowed $3 million of Vick’s salary in 2013 to become fully guaranteed when they failed to release him this week. Had they released him they would have created an additional $12.9 million in cap room, but if they can find a trade partner he will free up that same amount. Its unlikely that he will remain on the Eagles, but his contract should contain offsets when he signs with another team so that $3 million guarantee will only be a temporary drain on the cap if they decide to release him in April.

The other big money player, Nnamdi Asomugha, is set to earn $15 million in 2013 with $4 million in fully guaranteed salary. Unlike Vick’s $3 million, Asomugha’s salary contains no offset so he will earn that money plus whatever he will make from another team if he is released. I tend to think that makes him more of a candidate for a paycut than an outright release. Asomugha has had a terrible two years in Philadelphia and has limited value because of that. I look at former Eagle Asante Samuel as a contract model for Asomugha.

Samuel signed a 3 year deal with a base value around $4.8 million a year, a great deal of which was incentivized. His 1st year cash takehome was $3 million, $1 million of which was dependent on playing in 16 games. That is the real market for Asomugha. Now the Eagles already owe him $4 million so you have to add the salary onto that, but if I am the Eagles my offer is to reduce his base salary from $15 million to $7 million or so if he wants to stay. They should be able to easily free up $7 or $8 million by redoing his contract.

Often injured LT Jason Peters, who played a total of zero games in 2012, could be on the chopping block. When Peters plays he is extremely talented but injuries have always been an issue with him. The Eagles basically used the uncapped season in 2010 to dump a huge chunk of change out of his contract and thus can create $10.458 million in cap room if released. He has a small roster bonus due early in the offseason, but at $250K it is doubtful that the due date makes a material impact on their decision making. Last year the Eagles restructured Peters contract to pay him $4 million while on an injured list rather than his normal base salary so I would think they are amenable to having him back but it will need to be at a much lower salary than the $10.4 million he is scheduled to earn in 2013. I would expect them to use a high priced incentive structure that will essentially give him a minimal cap charge in 2013 and offer the Eagles more injury protection.

The Eagles could also look to restructure LB DeMeco Ryans ($6.6 million base salary and no dead money on the books) if they wanted to create more cap room, but its really those big three that dictate the cap room the Eagles can create. My guess is they will end up with an additional $18 million or so pretty early in the free agency period.

Notable Free Agents

CB Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie is likely going to test free agency and see if he can get the 5 year $50 million dollar type deal most players at the position seem to be getting. The Egales have the room to lock him up and with Asomugha all but gone from the roster I cant see any reason why the Eagles would not look to lock DRC up.

Other than Rodgers-Cromartie the Eagles have not real notable free agents. King Dunlap is a reserve offensive linemen whose future could be tied to Peters staying or going, but Philadelphia should have the depth to let him walk. Long snapper Jon Dorenbos is the next most important free agent the Eagles have.

Rookie Pool

The Eagles hold the fourth pick in the upcoming draft which should cost them about $3.609 million in cap space. According to the Eagles website they own 8 picks in the draft so the following estimates are based on that report. Its unlikely that the Eagles rookie pool numbers will play a role in their overall cap planning in March.

PickSB2013 Cap2014Cap2015Cap2016CapTotal
Round 14$12,818,624$3,609,656$4,512,070$5,414,484$6,316,898$19,853,108
Round 23$2,292,144$978,036$1,222,545$1,467,054$1,711,563$5,379,198
Round 35$684,092$576,023$666,068$756,088$846,133$2,844,312
Round 44$481,448$525,362$615,362$705,362$795,362$2,641,448
Round 53$212,000$458,000$548,000$638,000$728,000$2,372,000
Round 628$96,600$429,150$519,150$609,150$699,150$2,256,600
Round 74$66,964$421,741$511,741$601,741$691,741$2,226,964
Round 76$63,732$420,933$510,933$600,933$690,933$2,223,732


Wrapping up Today’s News- Bradshaw, Canty, and Bell Released; Vick Survives

While it has not yet reached a frantic pace of moves just yet its become apparent that the Lions and Giants are the most proactive teams in releasing players. The Lions have cut three players and now the Giants join them with the release of DT Chris Canty and RB Ahmad Bradshaw earlier this afternoon. The release of Canty saves the Giants $6.5 million in both cash and cap dollars while moving on from Bradshaw creates $2.75 million in additional cap room for the team while saving them $4 million in real dollars. Both releases were a bit different from the standpoint that the players and the organization had nothing but great things to say about each other despite the fact that the players were cut. One benefit for the players in this situation is that the early releases give them an early crack at free agency and the most opportunity to earn a good salary next year. Maybe more teams should consider doing that in the future.

T Demetress Bell, who had a poor year in Philadelphia, was never expected to see the 2013 season with the team, even when he signed his deal last season. It was an example of a pumped up contract designed to sound good in the media when the reality was far different. Philadelphia clears $9.6 million from the books with the move.

Today was also decision day in Philadelphia for QB Mike Vick, who now has $3 million of his salary fully guaranteed as the Eagles failed to release him. The Eagles will now control his rights and likely explore trade options before making a decision as to whether or not they need the cap space during free agency. Cutting Vick will still save the team $9.7 million in cap room and they can recapture the $3 million guarantee if another team signs him for at least that much money in 2013.

You can follow the league releases in our release tracker.