The Denver Broncos had convinced Ryan Lilja to quickly end his retirement to compete for the starting Center job late last week and signed Lilja to a one year contract. Today Lilja was practicing with the second unit according to multiple sources, however don’t expect Lilja to sit the season on the second unit as his contract is a start or nothing type of contract.
Per a League source the only money guaranteed to Lilja is a $100,000 signing bonus that represents the “tryout portion” of the contract. If Lilja makes the team he will earn $1 million in base salary and up tp $450,000 in roster bonus money, paid out as $28,125 for every game in which Lilja is on the active gameday roster. That brings the base value of his contract to $1.55 million.
In addition Lilja can earn incentives that push the value of the contract higher. Currently Lilja has $650,000 that count as LTBE towards the salary cap, pushing his 2013 cap figure to $2, 171,875 and his potential salary to $2.2 million in 2013. That salary total is about the same figure he played at for the Chiefs the last two seasons.
So the Broncos certainly dangled enough potential money in front of Lilja to make it worth ending the retirement, but if he fails to claim the starting job the Broncos will likely move on rather than keeping him on the roster as an insurance policy.
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.