Looking Closer at Mike Vick…

After another terrible performance Monday night Michael Vick in a position where he will likely be released at seasons end and need to search for a new job. Vick’s current contract with Philadelphia allows the Eagles to part ways with Vick after the seasons end for a small cap charge of just $4.2 million dollars provided he is released as soon as the waiver period begins in February, which represents a cap savings of $12.7 million that can be used to instead bolster the defense or the offensive line.

Vick’s situation goes to show just how unimportant reported values are in an NFL contract. When Vick signed his deal in 2011 the contract was reported to be worth $100 million for 6 years which sent shockwaves throughout the NFL. While Vick was a star he was never on the level of Tom Brady or Peyton Manning, neither of whom had a contract worth $100 million. As more details came out about the contract it was learned that the real value of the contract was 5 years for $80 million, with a void year being added so that Vick and his team could report a $100 million dollar deal. Considering Vick had already signed his franchise tender, which was guaranteed, that year the real value of the extension was 4 years for $63.943 million. Still not a number to laugh at but a far cry from  the $100 million reported value.As things turned out Vick is actually only going to see $16.443 million of that near $64 million extension- only 25.7% of the total value. He will earn a total of $32.5 million of the $80 million total- 40.6%.

In hindsight the deal was well crafted to protect the Philadelphia Eagles in the event Vick crashed and burned, which seems to be the case. They guaranteed him two years of salary, but gave him almost no prorated money that could hamper the team from cutting Vick. Prorated money is a safety net for the player in that if the dead money is so high the team will be unable to release the player due to salary cap considerations. Had Vick pushed for a higher signing bonus and perhaps taken a slightly lower overall contract in return he would have been more protected from release come February.

That being said Vick will find a job when and if he is released. He is one of those enigmatic players that can dazzle you at times with his running ability and floor you at others with his complete lack of understanding of the position. But his ability to be spectacular will get him another chance. The question is for how much money?  Vick will be 33 in June, which is not old for a good QB, but Vick’s body has taken a beating and he relies so much on his athletic ability that it is hard to view him as a true QB. Vick’s on field performance warrants a contract in line with the lower tier starters making between $8 and $10 million a year, so if he wants to make more than that he probably needs to take an incentive laden one year “prove it” deal for some team. At 33 years of age that could be his end.

Monday Morning Stock Down

Mike Vick- Just an awful season and it gets worse by the day. Another non-200 yard passing performance and a turnover to boot. Vicks re-signing was some overreaction to a small sample of actual games and he has not rewarded the Eagles at all. He has a good chance of being benched as the head coach struggles to save his own job. Vick has no job security with the team right now. He has no cash guarantees left in his contract provided the Eagles release him before the start of the 2013 waiver system in February. His dead cap hit is only $4.2 million which will represent $12.7 million in cap savings. Most importantly they free themselves of $15.5 million in cash commitments.

Nnamdi Asomugha- Sticking with the Eagles theme, Asomugha is the face for the poor moves they have made on defense in Philadelphia. Asomugha still gets respect from teams but when he gets thrown on he gets toasted and that is what happened this past weekend as he gave up a 63 yard TD reception against the Falcons. Depending on how one values the Darrelle Revis contract, Asomugha is the highest or second highest paid corner in the game, but he is not a difference maker at all. Asomugha has $4 million in guaranteed salary next season but received no signing bonus so there is no real sunk cost for the team to chase. If there is an offset for that salary the Eagles would likely be able to cut him and just have someone else pick up the tab. At worst, if there is no offset for the guarantee, it is a savings of $11 million in both cash and cap.

Tony Romo- Yes he led them back and yes he almost got saved by a miracle grab by Dez Bryant, but 4 interceptions just doesnt cut it. Romo has one of these wacky contracts where the backend is all void seasons giving the team significant reason to extend the term of the real contract. Romo’s real contract ends in 2013, but he has become the poster child in Dallas for failure. Romo has a salary due next year of $11.5 million and a cap charge of $16.8 million. It is unlikely that Dallas’ owner would consider an extension at this point and with each passing game Romos value sinks. Cutting or trading him would cost Dallas $13.5 million in dead money which would result in a net savings of $3.3 million. Dallas has eaten big cap hits before for players and if the right package came along would do the same with Romo.

John Clayton Names the Top 10 Worst Contracts in the NFL

ESPN’s John Clayton has posted his top 10 worst contracts list in the NFL.

I would look at most of these deals different than Clayton. For one I don’t agree with his logic. Technically Mark Sanchez is just as many games into his new contract as Mario Williams, yet he gives Williams an incomplete because it’s so few games. Mind you Sanchez will likely see no more than a few million in extension dollars as the extension was more about salary cap relief than actual new money. Sanchez’ salary, as was Matt Cassel’s, who is also on the list, were in line with the market for second tier QBs. Williams created a new market coming off an injury and has a history of not being anywhere near a top 10 pass rusher in the league. Bad decisions on Sanchez and Cassel?  Absolutely. Bad contracts, I’m not so sure.

The players that stand out on his list, that I would fully agree with, are Chris Johnson of the Titans and DeAngelo Williams of the Panthers. Those were contracts that defied logic, specifically the Williams contract. Johnson was a decision I would not have made simply due to the normal history of running backs, something I had looked at last season, but at least he was a top player at the time. Williams wasn’t even close to being a top player and was coming off injury, a career killer to a running back. Carolina, in general, has some of the worst contracts in the NFL right now.

Mike Vick was overpayment on a small sample of spectacular performances. The one reason I would hesitate a little on calling it a bad deal is because the Eagles left themselves an out after just two years, one of which he was set to play on the franchise tag anyway, to get away from the contract. He was going to play for $16 million in 2011 and if they tagged him again would have cost them $19.2 million. The Eagles actual cash spend will be $32.5 million for Vick for those same two years. He will carry a dead money charge in 2013 of just $4.2 million. The Eagles certainly overpaid, but is it that much?  The answer is no.