Andrew Cohen

Offseason Low Down

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Salary Cap Notes: Team Updates

Monday, March 17, 2014


The Los Angeles Rams selected defensive tackle Sean Gilbert with the third overall pick in the 1992 draft. After establishing himself as one of the game’s premier defenders over his first four seasons, Gilbert wanted a raise.  Unwilling to accommodate Gilbert’s demands, St. Louis (the Rams relocated from LA after the 1994 season) traded Gilbert to Washington for the sixth overall selection in the 1996 draft.

 

After one successful season in the nation’s capital, Gilbert was still unsatisfied with his contract. When the Redskins also failed to meet his contract demands, he sat out the entire 1997 season.

 

Undeniably talented, Gilbert was ultimately traded again—this time for two first-round picks. The Panthers, the recipient of the disgruntled defensive tackle, handed Gilbert a contract worth substantially more money than he asked Washington for.

 

Why does any of this matter? Because Diana Gilbert is Sean’s sister.  She also happens to be the mother of Darrelle Revis.

 

Sean has acted as an advisor to Darrelle since the Jets drafted him with the 14th pick in the 2007 draft. Gilbert guided him through both of his holdouts with the Jets, and helped him negotiate the six-year, $96 million contract—which was really just a series of one-year, $16 million deals— that Revis signed with Tampa Bay last offseason. By gambling on himself in the NFL’s most uniquely structured contract, Revis made $16 million in one season—or exactly twice the amount of the fully guaranteed money that Alterraun Verner received as his replacement in the Buccaneers’ secondary.

 

The design of Revis’ 2014 contract with New England is equally unique. Containing $11.5 million in fully guaranteed 2014 dollars (which can increase to as much as $12 million based on the number on the active roster), he is set to make $20 million in 2015. And since New England prorated the two-year deal’s signing bonus over both years, Revis’ 2015 cap hit is a whopping $25 million.

 

Revis’ $20 million salary in year two of the deal might as well be $50 million, as there is no chance he plays under this contract in 2015. But his $25 million 2015 cap hit will exhaust the Patriots’ leverage in negotiations when trying to keep Revis off the open market.

 

So if Revis remains one of the game’s premier defenders in 2014 (and, barring injury, there’s no reason to believe that the 28-year-old’s ability has declined), the star cornerback will likely be playing for his fourth team in four years come 2015.

 

That is unless he is willing to take a pay cut to stay in New England—an action bordering on criminal from a member of the Gilbert bloodline.

 

But Revis wasn’t the only notable player who switched teams this past week. Below is a breakdown of the salary cap situation of all 32 teams after one week of free agency.

 


Editor's Note
: The cap numbers of teams are constantly changing. Overthecap.com is the leading source for all NFL salary cap and contract information analysis. Follow me or OTC founder Jason on Twitter.

 


1. Oakland Raiders

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $47.8 million (figure doesn’t include the signings of Justin Tuck, Lamar Woodley and Antonio Smith)

 

After failing to secure any of the market’s top guys, Reggie McKenzie opted to spend Oakland’s unlimited funds on veterans in their decline phase (Justin Tuck, LaMarr Woodley) and second-tier free agents (Tarell Brown, Antonio Smith). If you forced me to come up with a compliment for McKenzie’s offseason thus far (not an easy task), he did correctly structure the deal of Austin Howard. The lack of a signing bonus in the Howard deal means no dead money is attached to this contract after 2014. Chances are he used this same front-loading method in the Tuck, Woodley and Smith deals, but I have not yet received those contract specifics.

 

2. Cleveland Browns

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $39.9 million (figure doesn’t include the signing of Ben Tate)

 

Since 2007, 12 different quarterbacks have had the honor of starting a game for the Cleveland Browns. In an attempt to stabilize the position, Ray Farmer cut ties with both Brandon Weeden and Jason Campbell this past week—two moves that actually resulted in a net loss of 2014 salary cap space.

 

Two of Farmer’s other noteworthy transactions involved replacing recently departed defenders with high-profile free agents. Karlos Dansby takes the place of the recently released D’Qwell Jackson, while Donte Whitner will step in for T.J. Ward. What’s a bit surprising about the deals of Dansby and Whitner is that they each contained prorated signing bonuses. With an abundance of 2014 cap space, these deals could have been structured with more up-front money to avoid future cap obligations.

 

In an upgrade from the corpses that filled in for the Browns at running back after the Trent Richardson trade, Farmer also signed former Houston Texan Ben Tate (these contract specifics are not yet in.)  The Browns still have plenty of cap space, so look for them to try and lock Joe Haden and Alex Mack into long-term extensions in the coming weeks.

 

3. Cincinnati Bengals

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $28.1 million

 

Notorious non-spenders, somebody should let the Bengals know that free agency started. The only team to enter the free agency period with more than $20 million in available cap space and somehow have more a week later, Cincinnati has done nothing to help its 2014 cause. They predictably let Michael Johnson walk, and reportedly won’t match Cleveland’s offer sheet for wide receiver Andrew Hawkins (which would add another $1.4 million to their current available cap figure). After having spent only $95,057,771 in cash last year, their 2014 current cash spending totals $88,727,771. They’re well behind pace in terms of meeting the NFL’s minimum spending requirements.

 

4. Jacksonville Jaguars

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $25.3 million

 

Credit the Jaguars for not only using their fortunate cap situation to infuse the roster with talent, but also for structuring the contracts of this talent in an economically efficient manner. The deals of newly signed Zane Beadles, Chris Clemons, Toby Gerhart and Dakota Watson all contain $0 in prorated bonus money.  GM David Caldwell also used this “pay-as-you-go” method of structuring deals with Red Bryant and Chad Henne, who were locked up just prior to the start of free agency. The benefit of for Jacksonville is that they forego the ever-risky “kicking the can forward.”

 

5. New York Jets

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $27.8 million

 

The age-old adage “if you’ve got it flaunt it” (or maybe those are Beyoncé lyrics) doesn’t apply to the current CBA. Due to the new carryover rules, there’s no reason to unnecessarily spend all of your available cap space. Fully aware of these circumstances, John Idzik—the former right-hand man to John Schneider—refuses to make any impulse buys.

 

The Jets not only received good bang for their buck with the signing of top free agent wide receiver Eric Decker, but Idzik structured the contract in an efficient manner. The dead money associated with the deal decreases from $11 million in 2015 to $4.5 million in 2016, meaning Gang Green will be able to part ways with Decker after two seasons if the signing doesn’t work out. Idzik also got good value on Austin Howard-replacement Breno Giamomini’s contract. With plenty of 2014 cap room left, look for Idzik to continue to look for market-bargains. 

6. Miami Dolphins

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $25.2 million (figure doesn’t include the signing of Cortland Finnegan)

 

Miami used the first week of free agency to bolster its interior. They signed left tackle Brandon Albert to a contract (five years, $47 million) that contains no guaranteed money after 2015; the deals of defensive tackle’s Earl Mitchell (four years, $16 million) and Randy Starks (two years, $10 million) can both be cheaply ripped up after 2014. Miami also took a flyer on cornerback Cortland Finnegan (these contract specifics are not yet in), and even got some (potential) compensation for lost cause Jon Martin. With plenty of cap room still available, new GM Dennis Hickey will continue to survey the market. He’s done well thus far.

 

7. Green Bay Packers

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $24.2 million (figure doesn’t include the signing of Julius Peppers)


Like the Broncos, Patriots and Saints, the Packers are blessed to have a quarterback who, when healthy, ensures the franchise won’t ever be in a “rebuilding mode.” But unlike the situations in Denver, New England and New Orleans, Aaron Rodgers is just 30 years old and under contract until 2019. This has enabled the always-deliberate Ted Thompson to meticulously navigate the 2014 open market despite having entered free agency with almost $30 million in cap space.

 

After re-signing B.J. Raji to a one-year pact and reportedly guaranteeing just $7.5 million of the 3 year, $30 million deal given to the aging Julius Peppers, Thompson will continue to look for free agent bargains. He is also in prime position to lock up Jordy Nelson and/or Randall Cobb (both free agents after 2014) to team-friendly extensions.

 

8. Philadelphia Eagles

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $18.8 million (figure doesn’t include the extension of Darren Sproles)

 

The NFL’s most active team just prior to free agency, the Eagles added two significant pieces over the past week. The three-year, $15 million deal given to Malcolm Jenkins was structured in a team-friendly manner. Jenkins, who only received $6 million in full guarantees, could conceivably be released after this season if he suffers a serious injury towards the end of 2014. Philadelphia then made sure to extend Darren Sproles after trading for him, though I have not yet seen the specifics on the extension. The Eagles still possess one of the NFL’s more favorable salary cap pictures.

 

9. Buffalo Bills

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $18.3 million (figure doesn’t include the re-signing of Scott Chandler)

 

Buffalo’s biggest splash came via the signing of free agent cornerback Corey Graham. Aside from a few other small moves, the Bills have remained quiet over this past week. Still way under the 2014 cap, look for the Bills to be more involved in free agency’s second week.

 

10. Minnesota Vikings

Approximate Current Available Cap Space - $16.3 million

 

After locking up Everson Griffen just prior to the start of free agency, the Vikings continued to add pieces to their defense. The five-year deal given to defensive tackle Linval Joseph, worth a total of $31.25 million, makes him the NFL’s 11th highest paid defensive tackle in terms of average annual salary.  It reads as a true two-year, $13 million deal (or $12.8 million if Joseph chooses to skip OTA’s this year), as his dead money figure decreases from $6 million in 2015 to $1.8 million in 2016. Captain Munnerlyn’s three-year, $11.25 million deal is certainly affordable. Even with Griffen and Joseph accounting for almost $15 million in 2014 cap space, Minnesota still has plenty of spending money.


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Overthecap.com is the leading source for all NFL salary cap and contract information analysis. Follow me or OTC founder Jason on Twitter.
Email :Andrew Cohen



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