The past few weeks the NFL salary cap has fluctuated by only a few dollars (less than 1% overall) and the consensus around the blogosphere and the NFL is that there will be either a flat (overall cap number doesn't increase) or relatively tiny increase. Today's cap dollars are as precious a resource as personal as any large expenditure could adversely impact the ability for the team to change direction at any position.
Given that Jay Cutler's contract is about to expire and the Bears will almost certainly need to retain his services, what would be the impact of perhaps changing the way the FO operators? Today you see franchise QB's look for top dollar contracts like with Drew Brees or Joe Flacco topping $100 million (I know he hasn't signed but how likely is it at this point he signs for less?) creating cap numbers that range from 15 - 20% of a teams salary cap in just one player.
Given Brees's contract :
- $37 mil signing bonus 2012 + $3 mil salary 2012 all guaranteed : total salary cap num 2012 - $10 mil
- $15 mil guaranteed as of 3 days after Super Bowl, $5 mil more guaranteed only if injured : total 2013 - $17.4
- 2014 total $18.4 mil with half becoming guaranteed three days after super bowl
- 2015 total $26.4 mil
- 2016 total $27.4 mil
NBCSports has it as a 5 year total contract with payout of over $100 mil. They believe as structrured it's a three year contract based on the guarantees with a fourth year team option of 26.4 and another team option of 27.5 in year 5.
$100 mil, 5 years sounds like an amazing contract but really Drew Brees is only getting 55 mil guaranteed with the salary cap hit coming in the back years of the contract when supposedly TV money will inflate the cap by large amounts. Considering his age this would seem like a good contract for both sides, but it set a precedent for Flacco and his agent to demand a similar one. Considering Flacco's younger, it would all but guarantee the heavy heavy cap hits on the tail end of the contract. That cap hit would be around 25% of your total amount of money THAT YEAR going to one guy on the team. Those numbers would mean that if the Ravens draft a Julius Peppers or franchise LT in either this year or next years draft, the QB cap number would make keeping that player almost impossible when weighed against the needs of the entire team.
A way to deal with the looming contract of Cutler could be to change entire structure of a contract weighted with crazy numbers and back weighted cap wise.
How bout a fully guaranteed contract? A contract that would be a lower dollar amount over the same amount of years.....say $55 million. Jay would get $10 mil a year every year for 5 years. An additional $1 mil a year could be used for incentives. $75000 workout bonus, 75000 % of snaps bonus, 250000 playoffs bonus, 500000 Super Bowl bonus, etc. This provides for some cap credits if not achieved the following year while not incurring lots of dead room like Hester's contract became. This would lower the overall cap hit while still providing for the player. This deal would be specific to Jay Cutler but could provide the basis for Marshall deal as well as other large cap hits. Obviously we could only use it on true franchise players, as we wouldn't have wanted to guarantee someone like Chris Williams a fully guaranteed deal. The club assumes the risk of injury while the player gets less overall money over the course of the deal. Given the possibility of a relative flat cap continuing the next few years deals like Drew Brees simply won't be sustainable to the team over the long run and run the risk of constantly having to revisit the deal every offseason in order to gain cap room.
Anyone else have ideas?