Panthers to Release RB DeAngelo Williams

The Carolina Panthers will soon release running back DeAngelo Williams which will mark the end of the worst contracts that that organization has signed.

Williams was a 28 year old running back coming off a season ending injury in 2010 when the Panthers opted to sign him to a five year, $43 million contract. Those numbers don’t really even do the contract justice as they agreed to use a $16 million signing bonus which helped lead to a massive potential payout of $30 million in the first three years of the deal.

Williams peaked as a player in 2008 when he rushed for over 1,500 yards and ran for 18 touchdowns. The following year he saw action in just 13 games and his numbers started to decline. He never reached 1,000 yards again and was a non-factor in the 6 games he played in 2014.

Because of salary cap problems the team was forced to rework Williams’ contract for salary cap relief in 2013 and include voidable contract years to aid in creating $3.2 million in cap room.  Williams also took a pay cut in 2014 to reflect the declining skills.

The Panthers will now have to decide whether to release Williams now or wait until the new league year begins and then designate him a June 1 cut. The Panthers are just beginning to climb out of a two year salary cap hole and it may be easier for them to use the June 1 cut and defer dead money to the 2016 league year. Williams has a $1 million option bonus this year that my or may not be included on the cap depending on the release date. Here is how I believe the situations play out.

If cut now the Panthers will take a $5.6 million dead money charge that consists of $3.2 million from his original signing bonus and $2.4 million in bonus money from his renegotiated deal. I believe as long as he is cut before the official start of the 2015 League Year (March 10) they will not have to account for the option bonus on the salary cap. This represents a savings of $733,333 against the salary cap, which is in essence a push. If I am incorrect and the option counts the team will lose cap space by releasing him as his dead money number will jump to $6.6 million with the team receiving a $1 million credit in 2016 for the non paid option.

If the team uses the June 1 designation on Williams they will carry Williams at $6.33 million against the cap until June 2. On June 2 the only charge remaining for the year will be $4.333 million, which is the $3.2 million from his orginal signing bonus, $800,000 from his renegotiated bonus, and $333,333 from his option bonus. If they opt for this route they will carry $1.6 million in dead charges in 2016, all from his 2013 renegotiation, and receive a $333,333 credit against the salary cap for the option bonus allocation in 2015 that was never paid.

This method of release would give the Panthers an additional $2 million in cap room, which should be enough to account for their rookies. I think that makes this the better option for the team given their salary cap situation.

The Most (and Least) Efficient Salary Cap Spending in the NFL


After the third week of the season I took a look at how teams were performing based on a matrix using Pro Football Focus statistics and with all teams having completed 8 games now I thought it would be a good time to look again at the teams.

PFF grades teams in a number of offensive, defensive, and special teams categories. They usually give them equal weight sum them up and come up with an aggregate score for a team. I wanted to weight the categories with the passing categories having a weight of 56% and rushing categories 44%. These numbers simply represent the league wide play selection in 2012.  I added 20% of the penalty grade assigned to each team to calculate an offensive and defensive score.  A total grade was calculated by adding offense, defense, and special teams with the weights 42.5, 42.5, and 15.

I wanted to plot those scores against salary cap spending for the season and then add another dimension- unused cap space. So the following chart plots the score against spending with the bubble size representing unused cap room. A smaller bubble indicates minimal unused room while a larger one indicates significant unused dollars.

salary cap nine weeks

I do think what is very interesting is that the three biggest spenders (Denver, Kansas City, and Seattle) each rank right near the top of the league in performance. That sounds kind of normal but I would think that one team that goes overboard on spending would have a poor season.

The three teams that stand out with the most efficient use of cap dollars are the Bengals, Panthers, and Browns. Each is carrying significant cap room and still getting top of the league performance. The Panthers pretty much look to be the best bargain in football which ties in with the same takeaway I had in my Power Rankings. On the downside for the Panthers is that their salary cap will be more difficult next season as they have pushed money into 2014 and have a few deals set to void.

Philadelphia is one of the more disappointing teams. They have a high payroll and are carrying a ton of cap room yet the performance has basically been average. When I see that I wonder if a team would have pushed the payroll more if they might have been able to improve?  Tampa Bay and Minnesota would be the other two higher spenders with poor results.

Jacksonville remains a class to themselves. They are non-competitive and carry a high salary cap payroll due to significant amounts of dead money, but the huge cap space sends a message that the team just didn’t bother to do more. I understand the concept of the bigger picture but to just throw away a season this way has to be disappointing to fans of the Jaguars.




Giants And Panthers Working on a Trade for Beason?


There were some online rumors of Jon Beason potentially headed to New York, which Jay Glazer of Fox Sports just confirmed:

For the Giants the addition of Beason would put incredible pressure on their salary cap yet again. New York only ha $1.37 million in cap room as of Thursday and that was after restructuring the contract of Chris Snee for the second time in a month. Assuming that this trade would occur next week, and likely hinge on the Giants winning against the Eagles, Beason would come over to the team with a cap charge of $705,882 if the trade is executed next week, so they could fit him on the roster for the time being.

The problem for the Giants lies in the earning of the remainder of his roster bonuses on the season. Each week that he is active he earns $109,375 from the Giants. This money is counted on the cap immediately which means the Giants could be liable for about $1.3 million in additional cap charges by the end of the season. I guess it is possible the Panthers could absorb those charges ahead of time if the package for Beason is strong enough.

Beason’s contract voids at the end of the season so from the Panthers point of view getting anything back from Beason is likely worth the trade. Beason had originally signed a 5 year, $50 million dollar contract that contained a signing bonus of $20 million dollars in 2011. Injuries have seen him only play in 8 games since the injury, with his 9th game coming up this Sunday. Beason had already taken a paycut from the Panthers this season due to his lack of playing time the last two seasons. He will count $8 million in dead money against the 2014 cap for the Panthers if traded.

Edit: Per Glazer the deal is now done pending a physical. since its a week earlier than I assumed the immediate cap charge will be $874,081. The $1.3 million in incentives will remain if the contract is left unchanged.

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Panthers sign Star Lotulelei and it could impact the Jets?


The Carolina Panthers signed DT Star Lotulelei today to a 4 year contract. The contract should be worth a fully guaranteed $9.604 million with a $5.365 million signing bonus, but that is not the important thing to discuss. According to Joel Corry Lotulelei’s contract contains the standard offset provisions most contracts contain. For those unfamiliar with offsets it essentially is a provision to not allow a player to double dip in the event he is cut. Basically it says that a player is worth X amount of dollars to play in the NFL regardless of where he is. Having no offsets means that the player is worth X amount of dollars just to that one team meaning he is allowed to earn more if the original team cuts him.

So why is this a big deal and what in the world does it have to do with the Jets?  Lotulelei’s draft slot (the 14th pick of the 1st round) and drafting team provided one of the more intriguing side stories in the NFL draft. In 2011 the Panthers were the lone NFL team to give a contract to a player in the top 10 with no offsets in the contract. This was given to Cam Newton, the number 1 pick in the draft. The only other team to give a deal with no offsets was the St. Louis Rams whose deal with Robert Quinn, selected with the 14th pick in the draft, also contained no offsets. Last season the Rams again had the 14th pick in the draft and again gave a deal with no offsets this time to Michael Brockers.

The Panthers were the first team to sign a player to a contract in the top 10 last year, signing LB Luke Kuechly to a fully guaranteed contract containing no offset language. The deal was a blow to the NFL as Kuechly was only the 9th pick in the draft setting the stage for agents to argue that all players selected in front of him should have no offsets in their contract. It was an argument that worked. While contract negotiations dragged on until at least July the top 7 picks in the draft all ended up receiving no offset provisions in their contracts including troubled Justin Blackmon. The Dolphins were able to draw the line and held firm on Ryan Tannehill where he took a deal at the 8th slot in the draft with offset provisions.

All eyes would be on Carolina this year because last year teams could at least argue that the Panthers just did not care about offsets, similar to the Rams and to a lesser extent the Detroit Lions. With the Rams twice giving no offsets to the 14th pick the precedent was set for the Panthers to do the same. Except they didn’t, giving far more credibility to 9th pick in the draft deserving to have a truly fully guaranteed deal.  The Jets own the 9th pick in the draft this season, used on CB Dee Milliner.

Normally I would say that the team picking 8th has the most important deal because the Dolphins laid out a model framework containing offsets and roster bonuses that an agent would want to break, except the 8th pick belongs to the Rams who simply do not care. So the 8th pick is going to get a contract with no offsets leaving the Jets to battle things out with Milliner, the CB that is unfairly going to be compared to Darrelle Revis and any later season signing is only going to bring up bad memories of Revis and his holdouts. In many ways the 9th pick becomes the most important in the draft (unless the Dolphins can again hold firm on offsets for the 3rd pick in the draft, a much harder task than last years fight with Tannehill).

Joel Corry made an important point when I was discussing this on Twitter that Milliner’s new agents are the same agents, Pat Dye Jr and Bill Johnson, who represented Tannehill last year.  That gives the Jets a specific point to exploit as the agents did agree to a structure with Tannehill that contained offset language. The Jets might be forced to pay money earlier than desired in executing that same contract, but it could get their player into camp right away. At the same time his agents may not want a stigma that they are the group that cant seal the deal on the no offset provisions. Its actually a small point that makes the hiring a little strange from Milliner’s perspective as there may have been other agents that did secure their clients no offsets last year that were also interested in Milliner.

All in all it makes for what could be a sticky situation for the Jets and by extension perhaps the Titans who picked 10th and could see G Chance Warmack look to wait to see what occurs with Milliner before signing. I would imagine that with Lotulelei now signed the door is opened for the 11th thru 13th picks to sign this week as there should be no hangups in those contracts now at all.


Brian McIntyre: DeAngelo Williams Restructures Deal


Brian McIntyre of Shutdown Corner has reported that the Carolina Panthers have restructured the contract of RB DeAngelo Williams, saving themselves $3.2 million in cap space in 2013.Mac has all the particulars in his deal, but the cliff notes version is that the Panthers will give Williams a $4 million dollar bonus this year and have reduced his overall cash takehome from $18 million to $10 million over the next 3 seasons.

It’s a move that I cant really understand. While this will bring Williams’s salary back in the line with the market in terms of cash value, his cap charges remain around the top 10 in the NFL for the next 3 seasons due to the large bonuses he was paid when the Panther signed him to that ill-advised contract in 2011. Williams only played in around 43% of the Panthers offensive snaps last season and seemed to be the doghouse of the team. While our statistical analysis of the position indicated that Williams may be hurt by lack of talent and opportunity as much as anything, it is hard to imagine him becoming a larger part of the offense without wholesale changes on the team.

In general the Panthers have been one of the worst managed salary cap franchises in the NFL since 2011. That isn’t the fault of the current regime but moves like this seem to make it worse. Taking a page from the book of the Cowboys the Panthers added two void seasons onto Williams’ contract for the sake of reducing cap charges in 2013, but increasing dead money throughout the life of the deal. They used a similar mechanism with LT Jordan Gross.

Under his prior contract Williams could have been cut after the 2013 season with $6.4 million in dead money on the books. He would have cost the Panthers $14.6 million in cap charges between this years salary and next years dead money had they played the contract out. The dead money under his new deal in 2014 is $9.6 million, so if they decide to cut ties with him next season it will be considered a net neutral cap move provided that they dont spend the $3.2 in savings they received from him this year. Alternatively the Panthers could have designated him a June 1 cut this year and saved the team $5 million in cash and cap dollars over the next two seasons.

Williams will be 31 next season so a release should still be considered a strong possibility, which is why I dislike moves like this. If they need the cap relied there has to be a better player that a team can do this with to at least give the team some longer term benefit. If they release Williams next year they receive no benefit and get nothing but bad press for a $9.6 million dead hit on a player that the staff does not seem to want to utilize. Dead money figures that high can also cloud judgement about a players position on the roster and at this point the Panthers have essentially pre-paid almost all of his contract.Williams is due a $1 million dollar option bonus according to McIntyre in 2015. There is almost no chance of that happening so if Williams makes it that far he will count $5.6 million in dead money against the cap in 2014.

View DeAngleo Williams Salary Cap Page


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.