Aaron Wilson, of Scout.com, had the breakdown today of the contract extension signed by Carlos Dunlap, which you can click thru to read to see the general cash flows of the contract.
The contract is actually worth $39.37 million in new money over the 5 year extension. Dunlap had been scheduled to earn $630,000 in base salary in 2013 which brings the total to the reported $40 million. He also had an incentivized $551,800 bonus, but that normally does not count in the new money calculation since it was not a base amount in his original contract.
It is one of those rare contracts that seems to benefit both sides and both sides can say they came out a winner. The Bengals used a very smart contract structure, utilizing cap room in 2013 and 2014 at the frontend of the contract rather than backloading the contract as most teams do. Of the $40 million dollar total the Benagls will dump $ 15.2 million of cap charges into 2013 and 2014 seasons. That leaves only $24.8 million in cap charges over a 4 year period on the backend, an average of just $6.2 million a season.
Why is this smart for the Bengals? First of all the Bengals are flush with cap space due to being a relatively young team built on draft picks and supplemented with affordable free agents, so it is an ideal time to use their cap room. Some may say that you can just carry money over anyway, but carrying over too much money can hurt negotiating room in the future and put you at risk of saddling your books with dead money from overpayments and poor contract structures. The Bengals reduced their cap by $5,418,200, but still have over $15 million in space this season and I have them estimated around $20 million in room next season, after this signing.
Because the Bengals are built young it means in the near future they will need the cap space to afford bigger ticket items. Star DT Geno Atkins will be a free agent after this season. The following year QB Andy Dalton and WR AJ Green will be free agents. By pushing Dunlap’s cap figures into the low tier for a DE the Bengals will keep their books in order to sign these players long term and maintain their salary cap flexibilitiy.
The deal itself is also very friendly for the Bengals in terms of downside risk. The Bengals only paid Dunlap a signing bonus of $8 million dollars, which is prorated thru just 2017. In 2016 the Bengals could cut Dunlap for just $3.2 million in dead money and in 2017 its just $1.6 million of dead money. While Dunlap has been incredibly effective in his role the question will be if he maintains that effectiveness as a starter. The Bengals have cap protection if he does not.
For Dunlap he gets an incredible amount of up front money. Set to earn just under $1.2 million this year he will now earn $13 million. In terms of new money payouts his first extension year takehome will be $19.37 million, which is a tremendous amount of money for a player who has started just two games in his career. Dunlap also has yearly escalators that can push the value of his contract.
The payout structure, in terms of regular cash, mimics the frontend of Paul Kruger’s with the Browns, despite Kruger being an unrestricted free agent that had more negotiating leverage. Kruger will earn $13 million in cash in 2013 and $20 million in two seasons. Dunlap’s total money matches the first two years and the new money payouts will match the three year payout of Kruger’s contract, with $27.02 million coming in the first three extension seasons for Dunlap and $27 million for Kruger.
All told it really is a very strong deal for both sides. It helps the Bengals short term and long term and gives Dunlap a great increase in pay and a commitment to be a starter in the future for the Bengals.
Jason is the founder of OTC and has been studying NFL contracts and the salary cap for over 15 years. Jason has co-authored two books about the NFL, Crunching Numbers and the Drafting Stage, which are widely circulated in the industry and hosts the OTC Podcast. Jason’s work has been featured in various publications including the Sporting News, Sports Illustrated, NFL Network and more. OTC is widely considered the leading authority on contract matters in the NFL.