Raiders, Seahwaks, and Cardinals Make Some Moves with Flynn and Palmer


With accurate news of Quarterbacks Matt Flynn and Carson Palmer’s restructures in hand, I figured now would be a good time to look at the set of moves that landed Flynn in Oakland, Palmer in Arizona, and what it all means for the teams involved.

First the Seahawks, who shipped out last year’s usurped before he held the throne starter Matt Flynn. As well know by now, the Seahawks netted a 5th in 2014, and a conditional pick in the 2015 draft. Considering all the circumstances, I can’t imagine that pick being high at all. Still, it’s a decent get for the Seahawks for a disposed starter making decent money. It does, however, also leave Seattle without a capable backup, with all due respect to Josh Portis. The Seahawks will incur 4 million in dead money, the acceleration of Flynn’s signing bonus, but are off the hook for the guaranteed portion of his salary (the Raiders will cover that) and will gain 3.25 million in space, along with Flynn’s would have been salary of 5.25 million. The Seahawks, with more than enough comfort as it pertains to the cap, I imagine will use the savings to find a backup quarterback, and work on extending their own.

Next, the Cardinals, who gain Carson Palmer for a swap of a 6th for a 7th and a conditional 7th the next season. Palmer was never going to see his 13 million salary, and sure enough isn’t going to see it in Arizona either. If the recently reported numbers are correct (and considering Mr. Brian McIntyre’s usual excellent work, they should be), Palmer will not only give the Cardinals something more than a warm body at quarterback (apologies to another deposed not quite the starter Drew Stanton) but something at least league average from the position. Palmer should be a good fit for Arians downfield attack as his arm has looked much better than the last of his Bengal days. Part of that though also assumes they keep him upright, and in that vein it would not be surprising to see the Cardinals and Raiders connect on another trade for the #3 pick come draft night. For now though, Palmer sees his salary reduced to 2 million this year, and along with the proration of his new 6 million signing bonus, gives him a cap number of 4 million for 2013. For 2014, his cap number is 10 million, though if he flops, or wants to leave, or for whatever reason is no longer in the team’s plans, the Cardinals could release him and save 4 million against the cap once Palmer’s acceleration and guaranteed portion of his salary is accounted for. Palmer’s contract will void after 2014 currently, though there’s plenty of time before then. The Cardinals overall cap health isn’t drastically affected by the Palmer acquisition and remain in decent shape.

Finally, the Raiders. The Raiders give up a 5th rounder in the 2014 draft (which according to more than a few essentially equates to a 6th rounder in this draft) along with a still unknown conditional pick. Some may pan this move for the Raiders, but I think it’s a decent fit. The quarterback class has been viewed with skepticism this year, and Flynn still has some upside. General Manager Reggie McKenzie also is obviously familiar with Flynn from their Green Bay days. Flynn can come in and compete with Terrelle Pryor (I’d expect him to win based on contracts and reports, but one never knows) and either serve as a veteran backup, a stop gap starter, or flourish into something more. Considering the way some 3rd day picks are thrown away, I think it’s a worthwhile gamble. Reports has Flynn originally getting an increase in base pay this season along with a reduction next season, but this is not the case and never did make much sense as Jason noted. New numbers finally released today have him reducing his former base salary of 5.25 million down to 3.25 million, and in return he gets the additional 1.25 million guaranteed (originally 2 million from Seattle already was) and a 3.25 million signing bonus spread over 2 years. Flynn’s 2014 base salary also reportedly has been reduced from 6.25 million down to 5 million, putting his cap hit that season at 6.625 million. Essentially McKenzie took 2 million from Flynn’s salary this season, and 1.25 million next season and combined it into a signing bonus. This will save the Raiders only 375,000 against the cap this year, but they maintain future flexibility if Flynn doesn’t work out saving 5 million next season if they release him, being on the hook for only 1.625 million.

The other part of this trade for the Raiders was dumping Carson Palmer’s contract. Conflicting reports makes it unclear who exactly wanted out, but it’s safe to say both sides had likely grown tired of each other. Palmer was not going to be around if and when the Raiders had successfully rebuilt the team and reportedly wanted to play for a team closer to contention. Palmer will leave the Raiders with 9.34 million in dead money, though the Raiders will save a hair short of 6 million in cap space and 13 million in cash by trading him. The Raiders also managed to secure a higher pick in this draft, moving up from the 7th into the 6th, along with potentially getting an additional 7th next draft. It’s not much, but it’s better than the nothing that was due with an expected release. These moves put the Raiders roughly 9.8 million under the cap, which while I won’t expand on in this post, currently gives them more than enough flexibility to eat all of Rolando McClain’s contract this offseason if they so choose.

It’s safe to say I think everyone is mostly happy with the returns. Arizona gets a quarterback who fits their direction without giving up a ransom, the Raiders get one who fits their team and save cap space and money, and Seattle unloads a player who was not in their long term plans though I’m sure Seattle would like a set backup quarterback, though the team is in amazing shape. In the end though, only time will tell how these trades fare.

Jim can be reached by angry Seahawks and Cardinals fans who know more about their teams than he does at

Raiders Finally Drop Tommy Kelly


The Raiders released DT Tommy Kelly yesterday, a move long suspected to be in the works. Kelly was the Raiders 2nd longest tenured player, only surpassed by kicker Sebastian Janikowski. While Janikowski is certainly well paid for a kicker, his numbers are not exceptionally egregious and he is a UFA next offseason. It is fitting that Kelly is essentially the end of late Raiders owner Mr. Al Davis’ massive overpayments to keep his own players in Silver and Black. Kelly may have been the quintessential poster child for this spending, and was the last remaining truly massive contract doled out by Mr. Davis still on the roster. As often was the case, this practice usually meant very large numbers for very small play.

Kelly was in the second to last year of his massive 7 year $50 million plus contract. Kelly was ascending and largely unproven at the time, and though he went on to flash at times, his play was largely inconsistent. Often reminding some of the way former LB Lavar Arrington played, Kelly seemed to eschew gap integrity and responsibility in order to make a big play. Sometimes it worked, often times it was the impetuous for those all too often long touchdown runs for the opposing running back.

Kelly also seemingly had become more outspoken about the team and its direction, something that couldn’t have sat well with tight lipped General Manager Reggie McKenzie. It’s possible that Kelly had already seen the writing on the wall anyway. Kelly, along with DT Richard Seymour, DB Michael Huff, and QB Carson Palmer restructured their base salaries to the veteran minimum last offseason in order to get the Raiders under the cap. I had assumed this move was done because the Raiders could not afford to absorb the cap hit it would have taken to release them last offseason. As of today, only Palmer remains and his days appear numbered.

Assuming Kelly’s release was straight, and he was not designated a June 1, the Raiders will get roughly a $4,775,000 cap savings. Kelly will count for $6,324,270 of dead money for 2012 and then disappear from the books. Kelly was due a $11,099,270 cap number, and a $6,500,000 base salary – far too prohibitive for a player of his caliber on a team deep into a rebuilding project.

This leaves two players on the Raiders with exorbitant long term cap numbers: QB Carson Palmer and LB Rolando McClain. Interestingly, neither is a direct result of Mr. Davis. Palmer was acquired by former HC Hue Jackson, and McClain was paid under the old rookie scale. McClain as has been noted is likely to be a June 1st designation. The Raiders currently seem to be in a game of chicken with Palmer, and as some have noted, may be hoping to exact some value in a trade. The Arizona Cardinals are most often used as the team in that exercise, but whether or not that comes to fruition remains to be seen.

The Raiders are set up for long term success with regards to the cap in any case, perhaps coming in at over 30 million in space next offseason. A time when they will have to re-sign key free agents, among them LT Jared Veldheer and DL Lamarr Houston. The Raiders sit about 5 million under the cap with Kelly’s release not including the rollover. So while they don’t have a ton of room to play with currently, this will soon change next offseason. The Raiders finally appear to be out of cap hell, which also means that will soon no longer be a viable excuse. The demolition is almost complete. Now comes the time to build.

In the mean time, the Raiders contracts and cap situation can be found here as always.

Jim can be reached for any questions or comments at


Raiders Continue Purge of “out of whack” Contracts


The Raiders continued their roster make over, releasing FS Michael Huff, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, and DE Dave Tollefson. The moves collectively saved about 6.2 million in space for the Raiders currently, bringing them to roughly 15 million under the cap. They will also gain more space in June due to Michael Huff’s June 1st designation. The moves added more than 9 million in dead money however, bringing that total to almost 27 million this season. 6 million more, namely most of Huff’s dead money as a June 1, will hit next season. That is a result of the continued and necessary culling of contracts GM Reggie McKenzie had deemed not representative of the player’s worth.

Looking at each move individually, we’ll start first with perhaps the most out of whack contract, FS Michael Huff. Unlike Bey, Huff’s deal was no longer inflated by a rookie contract under the old system, this was a deal made by Mr. Al Davis. Unfortunately due to the guaranteed salary last year, it almost necessitated being pushed off a year to this year in order to absorb the cap hit. The way Huff’s deal was restructured last year, to mimic his existing years, made it almost a guarantee Huff would not be around much longer. Though Huff flashed at times, and filled in adequately at CB last year, he never lived up to his high 1st round selection, but had been paid as such. By designating Huff a June 1st cut, The Raiders will save 8 million, though must carry his $11,288,750 cap number until then, when it will drop down to $3,288,750, all dead money. The Raiders will also be responsible for $6,208,750 in dead money next season. Both numbers are a result of Huff’s initial signing bonus, and his restructure last season. After that, Huff’s albatross contract will be removed from the books.

WR Darrius Heyward-Bey has been much maligned since he was initially drafted, in a few ways, a prime representative of Mr. Davis’ final years of running the draft for the Raiders. Bey looked to be turning the corner after 2011, but had a fairly dismal 2012, though he was not alone under Greg Knapp’s offense. While he also never lived up to his first round selection, he wasn’t an outright bust, offering value as a depth receiver. Bey was playing under the old rookie contract structure, and his inflated $10,601,000 cap number was untenable. The Raiders will absorb $5,260,000 in dead money, the remainder of his option bonus, though gain $5,341,000 in net cap space. Heyward-Bey was the last remaining player under contract from the 2009 draft for the Raiders, though a few became UFAs this offseason.

Lastly, we have a player that has no ties to Mr. Davis, DE Dave Tollefson. Tollefson came over from the Super Bowl champion Giants, after notching 5 sacks for them that year. He was expected to add some sort of pass rush for the Raiders, but managed to only notch half a sack, likely due to not having the surrounding talent he had in NY to help scheme him loose. Hardly an exorbitant contract, Tollefson was scheduled to only count $1,525,000 against the cap. The Raiders saved $900,000 in cap space by releasing him, absorbing a dead money charge of $625,000, that is made up of the guaranteed part of his salary, signing bonus, and guaranteed roster bonus. It is in a way, comforting, that Mr. McKenzie was willing to admit this mistake, something his predecessor often did not. It should be noted neither of Mr. McKenzie’s 2 main free agent signings have panned out, a perhaps troubling sign for someone noted for his ability to discern whether a player could play or not. The large difference being, this contract was not as financially crippling or as large as deals for Huff, or Seymour who currently counts for almost 14 million in dead money. If you have to bust on a free agent, it’s obviously far more palatable if the dead money is less than a million.

Though in decent cap shape, far better than the usually have been recently, the Raiders have a couple more abnormally large contracts to deal with. They very likely will be dealing with them soon as they work their way hopefully to financial soundness. In the mean time, the roster as it stands now can be found here.

Jim can be reached for any feedback or questions at

Post was edited to reflect Huff’s designation as a June 1st cut


Raiders Play Kick the Can with Tyvon Branch

In news less surprising than finding sleet on the ground in the northeast, the Raiders converted SS Tyvon Branch’s 2013 $6,000,000 base salary and $3,500,000 into a signing bonus to obtain more needed cap relief. With an original cap number for 2013 north of 10 million, it was widely expected from the onset of this contract the number would be renegotiated. While Branch’s 2012 wasn’t as stellar as his 2011 campaign (perhaps unsurprising given the circumstances), most Raiders fans are likely pleased with this move.

The conversion of Branch’s salary into guaranteed money lowers his cap hit by roughly $7,028,000, which in addition to the savings realized by yesterday’s Mike Brisiel deal, moves the Raiders to approximately $8,528,000 under the cap, with more moves sure to come. The move increases Branch’s cap number each year by an additional $1,757,000, which is a comparatively small number when juxtaposed to the recent restructures, such as that of former Raiders DT Richard Seymour but a rather massive number were it to accelerate.

It is likely that Branch’s stay will extend through at least 2014 due to the massive hit of accelerated money should he be released. The deal may be revisited around that time, because as Jason noted, the 2 years added are likely voidable due to their structure in order to further spread the newly guaranteed money’s hit, a recent staple of GM Reggie McKenzie’s “can kicking” maneuvers. None of Branch’s salary is assumed to be guaranteed after 2014, though the Raiders would be on the hook for $6,671,000 in dead money were he to be released then. Branch’s deal can of course be found here.

I’d also like to thank Jason and Andrew for their warm welcomes. I look forward to working with them and bringing enjoyable insight to you, the readers, and hopefully learning a bit myself going forward.


Jim can be reached at

Note: This post was edited after news was released that Branch also converted his $3,500,000 roster bonus for 2013

Mike Brisiel’s Not Quite Paycut

The postmaster brought along news yesterday that initially elated many Raider fans, but then gave way to many questions. It was announced right guard Mike Brisiel restructured his contract yesterday, a move that was originally speculated as a paycut, but turned out to be more of a standard slash and convert deal according to a release from his agent Jeff Sperbeck.

Brisiel converted $3,000,000 of his former $4,350,000 base salary into a guaranteed roster bonus, to be paid after the start of the new league year. While this lowered Brisiel’s 2013 cap number to $2,810,000 from $5,060,000, a savings of $2,250,000, it also added $750,000 to each of his remaining cap hits. Though this got the Raiders roughly $1,500,000 under the cap, it’s a seemingly strange move by General Manager Reggie McKenzie considering Brisiel’s notoriety of being a ZBS fit, the system the Raiders are moving away from, and Brisiel’s perhaps injury influenced poor performance in 2012.

The Raiders would have only been on the hook for $2,240,000 in dead money had they severed ties with Brisiel this offseason, and now if they deem him a poor fit going forward, would be on the hook for $3,930,000 in dead money after the season. Despite coming in less than his cap hit in 2014 of $5,310,000, it is an additional $1,690,000 of would be dead money, though the Raiders project to be in much better shape after the 2013 season and would likely be in a better position to absorb the hit.

Perhaps Mr. McKenzie sees something in Mike Brisiel that spurred him to work something out to give Brisiel another chance, or perhaps many other things one could only speculate on, but I’m sure we’ll be revisiting this contract one way or another come next offseason.

Mike Brisiel’s contract can be viewed here, and will be updated as more details roll in.


Jim can be reached at

The Financial Implications of Releasing Rolando McClain

It was recently reported that Rolando McClain’s tenure with the Oakland Raiders may be coming to a quick end with the player being thrown off the practice field and McClain later using social media to state that his time in Oakland is finished. While no moves have officially been made I thought it would be worth looking over what a release might mean.

McClain’s contract would be subject to the waiver system meaning another NFL team could have the option of claiming him and his contract. If claimed the team would be on the hook for salaries of $4,005,000 in 2013 and $5,805,000 in 2014 as well as the balance of his $970,000 salary in 2012. The claiming team would also be responsible for the remaining guarantees in the contract of $1,535,000 in 2013 and $2,100,000 in 2014.McClain can also earn increased salary in 2013 and 2014 via escalator clauses.

If McClain went unclaimed the Raiders would be responsible for those future payments and they would immediately accelerate onto the 2012 salary cap, which may be too much for the Raiders to bear. According to Pro Football Talk the Raiders were about $4.6 million under the cap in early November. 3.6 million of additional charges plus the money spent to replace his roster spot would leave them with almost no room to operate for the rest of the year. This may mean that the best option for Oakland is to deactivate him for remainder of the season and to try to work out a trade once the season ends.