A Look at Falcons WR Roddy White


There was a report Thursday from Ian Rapoport of NFL.com that the Falcons are thinking about an extension for Wide Receiver Roddy White. White has been a tremendous bargain for the Falcons since signing a contract extension in 2009, averaging 98 receptions and 1,297 yards from 2009 through 2012 while earning $8.54 million per year. Because the Falcons extended him while he was in the final year of his rookie contract his salary cap charges have never exceeded $9.125 million and he has never really been a salary cap burden at a premier pay position.

However, White has struggled with injuries in 2013 and at 32 years of age there could be real worry about significant decline in performance. He will finish 2013 with his worst statistical production since his rookie season and possibly his career- White has just 20 receptions for 209 yards with 6 games to go.  With the Falcons and White suffering through a poor season I had assumed that the Falcons would either let White play out his contract, which I had listed at a relatively low cap number of $6.325 million, or release White and move on.

I was reminded via Twitter by contract expert Joel Corry that White has escalators in the final year of his contract. I was able to confirm through a source with knowledge of the contract that the escalators do exist and are tied to Pro Bowl appearances and workout participation.  The escalator can total $5 million and while the actual breakdown was not told to me I would think Pro Bowls from 2009-2011 would lead to him earning at least $3 million of the escalator. It probably means his real salary cap number will be anywhere from $9 million to $11.325 million in 2014.

Those numbers are probably unsustainable for the Falcons 2014 salary cap and would force them into releasing White.  With QB Matt Ryan struggling and the possibility of TE Tony Gonzalez retiring Atlanta may not want to completely break up the White/Gonzalez/Julio Jones group that had been so successful before injuries to White and Jones in 2013. Atlanta has so much invested in Ryan that giving him familiar targets is almost a necessity moving forward.

What might an extension for White cost?  In general the market has not been kind to older receivers and White will likely push at the high end to try to match the Panthers 4 year contract extension with Steve Smith signed in 2012 when Smith was 33 years old. Smith had struggled in 2009 and 2010 for a number of reasons but rebounded greatly in 2011 with the addition of QB Cam Newton, putting up his best statistical season since 2008. With a high salary cap charge in 2012 the Panthers awarded Smith with a $7.5 million a year extension that was designed to be as much about cap relief and a safety blanket for the QB than anything else.

Though White is coming from a negative statistical year his performances leading up to that poor year are superior to what Smith accomplished in 2009 and 2010 at 30 and 31 years of age.  Likewise he will have a large cap number and a QB in need of a familiar face in the offense. The low end of the spectrum would be around the $5.8 million that Reggie Wayne signed last year with the Indianapolis Colts.


The important part for the Falcons is how to structure the contract so that they are not stuck with an older unproductive player. While it is important for the short term to keep White, long term White may not be a major part of the offense. There have been plenty of productive players in the past at the position through the years including Terrell Owens, Marvin Harrison, Jimmy Smith, Reggie Wayne, Keyshawn Johnson,  Joey Galloway, and Donald Driver among others. Atlanta may be a bit more cautious in their approach as more recent cases have not been as productive. Wayne suffered a knee injury this season, Smith is not going to be as dominant this season, Santana Moss has not been productive in Washington. Anquan Boldin looks finished and Randy Moss was done the day he turned 33.  Factor in injuries this season and the Falcons may want to take a very risk averse approach to a contract.

Considering the season he will be coming off of I would think a 3 year extension makes the most sense for both sides. If executed in week 17 the Falcons can prorate money for a full five years whereas waiting until next year would mean just 4 year of prorating money or signing a 4 year extension. A 4 year contract could potentially up the guaranteed money as the contract should see somewhere between 45 and 49% of the total new money come in the form of guarantees.

For the sake of argument let’s say White earns somewhere between Wayne and Smith and call it a contract worth $6.8 million a year with $10.2 million of it guaranteed, We’ll also assume that his salary next season is expected to be $8 million making this a 4 years of contract  worth $28.4 million.  What might be a possible structure?




Existing Bonus

Extension Bonus












































Don’t pay attention to the 2013 numbers as this is just a bonus dump year with money already earned so I didnt bother putting in his current P5. What we did here is just add $1 million in cap charges to his non-escalated 2014 salary cap number. That should be a reasonable amount. The 2014 salary would be fully guaranteed and we would also guarantee $200,000 of the 2015 salary. Those numbers can be played with for cap purposes, but I like the idea of only having around $3 million in dead money in 2015 if 2014 ends up being similar to 2013 in terms of injuries and performance.

When the extension kicks in I want to begin including per game active roster bonuses to protect from injuries keeping White from playing in the event he is still productive. The low cap charge in 2015 should work to benefit both sides. At that point Julio Jones will either be playing on a franchise tag or in the first year of a very lucrative contract extension. With such a low cap figure the Falcons may consider keeping White even if he has a mediocre (by his standards) 2014 campaign. The odds of White seeing year 2016 and 2017 are pretty slim and dead money fits accordingly with that.

In the end this will cost the Falcons $14.5 million in 2014 and 2015 to keep White on the team. If our $3 million escalator guess is correct that boils down to a 1 year $6.5 million dollar deal. That’s perfectly acceptable to help the teams salary cap and hopefully keep a Falcon in one uniform for his entire career.



Best & Worst Contracts: The Indianapolis Colts


A few weeks ago Jason LaCanfora published a list of best and worst contracts in the NFL so I thought it might make a good idea for us to do the same here at OTC, with a team by team approach. I’ll try to be a bit more analytical in terms of why money was paid and how it fits in the market, but the general premise is the same. The one key difference is outside of restructured rookie contracts under the old CBA we will only use veteran contracts as there is a big difference between best draft picks and best contracts.  Please note that there is a difference between a bad player and a bad contract when discussing some of the selections. Clicking on a players name will take you to his salary cap page.

Reggie WayneBest Contract: Reggie Wayne

The Colts are a tough team to come up with a best number for and I am hesitant to put a 34 year old receiver making over $5 million a year out there as the best, but there really is no other option. Wayne was incredibly productive in 2012 and became QB Andrew Luck’s favorite target. His 1355 yards were tied for the second most receiving yards ever by a player at least 34 years of age and he clearly brought veteran leadership to the team.

In some ways the Colts lucked into keeping Wayne. Wayne expected to see more interest in free agency but with questions about age and how well he would fit without Peyton Manning the doors re-opened to return to Indianapolis.

His $5.8 million a year deal was only slightly more than Santana Moss’ with Redskins and a few million less than Steve Smith’s with the Panthers, the other two notable plus 30 players in the NFL. Wayne was arguably more productive than both leading up to the extensions they received with their respective clubs. His guarantee was only slightly more than Moss’.

Wayne will be 35 this season and would have carried a $5 million dollar dead money fee had his production dropped off significantly. Benchmarked against the Smith deal that is not as bad a number as it sounds. At 35 Smith will carry a $9 million dollar hit if released. While it is not likely that Wayne will produce the yardage he did in 2012, his value that season to the team was likely enough to justify the entire contract.

Erik Walden Worst Contract: Erik Walden

Really you could just take your pick here. The Colts were flush with cap space in 2012 and seemed to make a decision to use it all up even if it meant overpaying a number of players to come to the team. Out of the entire group none was luckier than Walden to land the contract that he did.

Walden produced little in his time with the Packers. He generated 8 sacks in 2 ½ seasons despite playing alongside one of the best pass rushers in the NFL. There was no market for Walden in 2012 so the Packers brought him back on a nothing contract. After a 2012 season that was about identical to his 2011 season you wouldn’t think the market changed much for Walden, except it did.

Walden received a $16 million dollar 4 year deal from the Colts with a whopping 50% of the total guaranteed. His $8 million in guarantees assures him of a roster spot until 2015. He ended up with better security than Osi Umenyiora, Dwight Freeney, and Cliff Avril, players who can actually rush the passer a little bit and be productive. Walden has potential to be the most overpaid player in the NFL a situation that should have been avoided but the Colts saw something that nobody else saw and paid him as if he had done it already.

Check out Our Other Best & Worst Contract Articles

AFC East: Buffalo BillsMiami DolphinsNew England PatriotsNew York Jets

AFC North: Baltimore RavensCincinnati BengalsCleveland BrownsPittsburgh Steelers

AFC South: Houston Texans, Indianapolis Colts, Jacksonville Jaguars (July 5)