Thoughts on Gerald McCoy’s $95.2 Million Contract with the Buccaneers


(EDITORS NOTE: This was writted before I saw Joel Corry’s full breakdown of the contract. The numbers are  slightly different, and more team friendly, than my estmates and what I discuss here but its very close and the analysis still holds up)

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy agreed today on a new 7 year contract extension worth a reported $95.2 million in new money with $51.5 million in guarantees. The huge numbers immediately caught people’s attention since it brings him very close to the magical $100 million number that is near impossible for defensive players to reach.

Pro Football Talk has some of the initial details of the contract which tells us much more about it. According to PFT, McCoy will received $14.757 in fully guaranteed salary upon signing the contract. The next guarantee kicks in a few days following the Super Bowl (which I believe they have the date incorrect on and it’s the 2015 and not 2016 waiver period) and increases the full guarantee to $32.257 million. Following the start of the 2016 League Year the final portion of the guarantees will vest to reach the $51.5 million reported figure.

Now I’m not sure when I can verify the full contract details (or when someone else will)  but I think we can make a few assumptions based on the PFT report and our general knowledge of the cap. McCoy still had  $7,489,561 in salary remaining this season which will be rolled into the guarantee that Is reported. That should mean that the Buccaneers increased his salary by about $7.267 million to reach his reported guarantee. I’d say there is a very good chance his effective salary for this year is now $20 million. That should make his 2015 salary $17.5 million.

The next thing that immediately jumps out at me is the reported structure. JJ Watt recently signed a contract with the Texans that had a guarantee structure that I think was the model for this contact. Watt had a very large 2015 salary fully vest the 5th day of the waiver period and then in 2016 both his 2016 and 2017 base salaries fully vested on the 5th day of the 2016 League Year. Sound familiar?  We still have $19.243 million in guarantees to account for and it would seem likely that these will split over the 2016 and 2017 seasons. Those numbers fit in with both the general way that the Buccaneers structure contracts as well as the cash flows around the position. If they paid out all that money by 2016 he would have received a better contract that Watt on the front end, which I can’t imagine happening.

The Buccaneers deal in all cash contracts, but from the sounds of the raise he will receive this year they will need to use a small signing bonus to fit under the salary cap. My estimates had Tampa Bay with just over $6 million in space entering the weekend, so a $7.3 million raise is not going to fit. A few years ago they did include a signing bonus for tackle Donald Penn and I would look for a similar bonus between $2 and $2.5 million to make the numbers work with the cap this season.

I would imagine Tampa Bay is looking at salary cap hits of $20.4M in 2014, $20.6M in 2015, and then just $10.1M in 2016 and 2017. Those numbers would equate to new money totals of $24.75M, $34.3M, and $44M over the first three contract years. Those numbers would far exceed Geno Atkins $36 million over 3 years and put him on par with Haloti Ngata’s $44 million over three years, but with a far less player friendly contract structure.

How is a deal like this likely agreed to?  I think you simply look at the current contract of McCoy. McCoy had a tremendous amount of contract leverage based on the franchise tag. Because his salary cap number was so high, his tag number in 2015 would be $18,392,704 and in 2016 would be $22,071,244. While the Buccaneers can deal with big numbers because they will rarely, if ever, use a signing bonus upon the initial execution of the contract, those are still extremely high numbers. For McCoy, though, there is no injury protection in that process so he has a risk as well. Here is how the two situations play out in terms of cumulative cash flows (assuming our estimates on the payouts are correct):

YearTagNew ContractDifference

It is essentially a compromise. McCoy will earn around and additional $6.4 million plus have injury protection to continue to audition for the extra money in his contract. The Bucs get to save about $6 million total if they “invoke the option” to have McCoy on the roster in 2016. That should make both sides very happy but it is certainly not the overwhelming windfall that some are making it out to be. Its simply a fair contract in the context of an original contract for a very good player.

Now attention will turn to Ndamukong Suh and what this means for him.  Both are comparable players in almost every metric other than notoriety and $13.6 million a year and contract control into the next decade is a far cry from what Suh was reportedly seeking. McCoy was already playing on a contract that averaged about $11.5 million a year so its not as massive a raise as it sounds initially. I would guess this puts Suh in the $14 million a year range.

Is either contract worth it for a defensive tackle?  Probably not. It is difficult to out-produce Atkins who is on a far more team friendly contract for a number of reasons. At this point the Ravens would love to get out from under the Ngata contract and put it under more reasonable terms because the value is simply not there.

For Tampa Bay, who has not really been a competitive team for years, it may be difficult to match the peak performance of McCoy with the rest of the team. They will be helped based on what should be a team friendly contract with limited prorated money. Tampa should still have a great deal of cap room to spend in the offseason so I would expect more free agent splashes to try to make it all work.