Well before we get started I’d like to introduce everyone to Jim who is one of the new contributing writers on the site. Jim is a big Raiders fan and an amateur capologist. He’ll be popping in from time to time with his thoughts on the cap and probably doing quite a bit of Raiders related posts, as the Raiders are always a hot salary cap topic. Unfortunately for Jim its rarely positive but one of these days it has to. Onto the Q&A:
33,( who looks like a big Tony Dorsett fan)- Does the cap increase in the next several years? If so, how does this play into the process of cap planning?
Thats a great question and its one that I certainly can’t fully answer. While the cap does increase every year the projections seem to be that it will remain pretty flat even as the new TV contracts roll in. The union has had to make a number of concessions to get the cap to be even where it is today so my guess is there will be limited growth. That being said projections are nothing more than educated guesses and can change at ant time.
As for the second part of the question it absolutely plays a role. As the salary cap inflates so can contracts. It is far better for a team to shuffle cap dollars to the future because those cap dollars will, in theory, eat up much less of a percentage of the cap than they would in the present. Back in 2006 when the new CBA went into effect teams planned contracts with a certain projection in mind, but by 2007 when the cap begin rising substantially so did the pushing of money and contract values. The problem for teams now is that the cap remains at the same levels at 2009 but star player salaries keep rising. That was one of the points I was trying to make on the Flacco contract. When Eli Manning signed his record breaking deal worth $16.25 million it was on a cap of $123 million rising $5-6 million a year. The pushing of salaries from that period have essentially made that contract worth nearly $21 million a year but, with a flat cap, it eats up a far larger percentage. To try to protect themselves from that reality the Ravens designed the cap hits of the contract to remain low for the next three years hoping that by 2016 the cap grows substantially making Flacco’s high end numbers seem more reasonable.
From @ross_christie- How much of a contract will a player actually get? Is it just the guaranteed money?
Depends on the quality of player and structure of the contract. If you look at our releases page you can get a good idea as to just how much players earn before being released. Most probably earn around 50% of the contract and in many cases that is because of the protection that was built into the contract. Players that have strong representation, especially those who negotiate with weaker front offices, are able to craft player friendly contracts that make it difficult to release the players. The fact that signing bonus money is prorated and all accelerates onto the cap if released provides another layer of contract protection besides just the fully guaranteed money. A player that can negotiate a large signing bonus in conjunction with fully guaranteed salary will most likely earn more than players with more guaranteed money but no bonus protection. I would say that it is pretty rare for a player to actually play out his entire contract without ever having a paycut.
From @WeightyThings- For Bowe’s contract structure, what do you think their primary concern was in organizing it? Any player contracts coming up?
I think their main concern was getting a cap friendly deal in year 1, which they accomplished with a $4 million dollar cap hit in year 1. The Chiefs dont really have any cap issues on the horizon so they knew they could deal with the higher cap hits in years 2-5. This maximizes their chances to attract free agents and change the culture in Kansas City.
From @Dessedrengen- how is it possible for Dallas to get under 123.0 when they are at about 126 now, and then the cap penalty?(10mil$ if I guess)
The Cowboys cap penalty this year is $5 million and their adjusted cap, after carryovers, should be around $120.3 million. They did get under the cap for a brief moment before tagging Anthony Spencer. I estimate them to be around $5.6 million over the cap. I cant really see how they will get under the cap without extending Tony Romo. They were going to pay him ton anyway, but I have a feeling it will be even more now. Romo has all the leverage in the world because Dallas has almost no other options as they have restructured almost everybody on the team. Statistically he can point to Flacco and state a case he deserves close to that, though Romo is older so I cant see that working. Other options would be to restructure Doug Free but he already has a large dead money hit close to $4 million in 2015 at which point his contract should void. Its ugly in Dallas and only going to get worse
From @WeightyThings(a 2nd questions)- Now that Tyson Jackson is back at 5.2 million, what is the Chiefs salary cap looking?
Sometimes initial reports can be wrong, but based on what was reported the Chiefs gained at least $9 million in cap space. It is likely more than that as the way the reports have been worded make me think he needs to reach certain performance levels to even earn that much. If that is the case they will save more against this year cap. The team probably has around $12.5 million though that does not include the deal for Alex Smith.
From L_A_RAIDERS- The New Regime has only been here 1 year…isnt that statement a little pre mature?? What Crazy contract has Reggie Handed out?
This was in reference to a statement I made on the Raiders decision to continue to not release players but instead keep extending. Its a fair question. I think when you have a situation as bad as the Raiders you have to be willing to make very difficult decisions. They continued to make many of the same moves as the previous regimes. In Richard Seymour’s case they added another void season onto the end of his contract to just increase the inevitable dead money in 2013, which is close to $14 million. They re-signed LB Aaron Curry, who had shown nothing, to a deal that contained 3 voidable contract years and they fully guaranteed his 2012 base salary. He was gone by November. They used a similar void trick to bring Carson Palmers numbers down in 2012 which has just added to more dead money issues either in 2013 or 2014. I just think the abuse of these void years and salary conversions makes it impossible to ever get out of this hole and based on the most recent restructure of a player that most Raider fans seem to think doesnt even fit their offense it just seems to be the same approach. Maybe the moves of 2012 were done out of absolute necessity, but this last one was not.
From @Donkey_Kang With the inflated price of cornerbacks is it more likely the Chargers draft one in first 2 rounds than sign one for big money?
I could see salary cap playing a role for some teams in the draft but I have to think the Chargers are simply in BAP mode. But as a general question if you can find a QB, DE, CB, or WR in the draft you are well ahead of the game in your positional spending. The ability to have rookie contracts playing those position is a huge advantage.
Feel free to keep asking me questions either on Twitter, email, or in postings. Ill try to answer them as best I can in the future.
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.