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Over The Cap’s Brad Spielberger updates us on the Nick Foles contract

To help us understand the latest revelations on the Nick Foles contract, we got an assist from one of the best salary capologists around in Over The Cap’s Brad Spielberger.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers v Jacksonville Jaguars Photo by James Gilbert/Getty Images

This may feel like déjà vu for you guys that already read the breakdown of the Nick Foles contract from our good friend Brad Spielberger from Over The Cap last week, but since there has been some new information about the Chicago Bears quarterback, we wanted to amend what Spielberger originally sent us.

By now you guys all know Brad from his outstanding work with Over The Cap, his local radio hits with 670 The Score, the great nuggets of information he shares on Twitter (@BradOTC), or his thoughtful responses to our WCG Salary Cap Roundtable, so it was natural to ask him to clear things up (again) on the reported deal.

Let’s try this again (c’mon RapSheet…). All info courtesy of Brad Biggs and his fantastic article here.

The original contract Nick Foles signed with the Jaguars had about $57 million remaining (after the trade) over three years, with the vast majority of that number comprised of $50 million in base salary and a $5 million fully guaranteed roster bonus for 2021. All told, the remaining guarantees on the deal were $20.125 million in total. About the same amount, $21 million in guaranteed money, is coming along to Chicago. However, the total value not including incentives (more on that later) will be just $24 million instead of $57 million.

The restructured contract is a 3 year / $24 million contract, with $4 million base salaries in each year, a $4 million signing bonus, and $4 million roster bonuses in 2021 and 2022. The base salaries in 2020 and 2021 are fully guaranteed, with $1 million of the $4 million 2022 base salary guaranteed. Additionally, the $4 million roster bonus in 2021 is guaranteed at signing. The 2022 roster bonus will have a guarantee trigger date that most likely comes in 2021, but obviously a lot can happen with this contract before then.

There are also up to $6 million in incentives in each year of the deal. An interesting wrinkle with the incentives is that for every dollar earned, that exact amount will be added to the following year’s base salary. So, for example, if Foles earns $3M in incentives in 2020, his 2021 base salary will escalate from $4 million to $7 million.

We don’t know the exact amounts for each incentive just yet, but we know statistical thresholds are tied to snap count and passer rating, then there are the relatively standard Pro Bowl (1st ballot), All-Pro and MVP incentives, and finally incentives tied to making the playoffs, advancing in the playoffs, and winning the Super Bowl/Super Bowl MVP (LET’S HOPE THAT INCENTIVE GETS PAID IN FULL, AMIRITE?!).

So, if hypothetically Nick Foles hits every incentive in 2020, his 2020 cap hit would be the $4 million base salary + $1.33 million signing bonus proration + $6 million in incentives, for a total of $11.33 million. His 2021 base salary would then become $10 million, and he would have the same opportunity to earn $6 million in incentives again. Brad Biggs provided one of the many permutations of incentives in the above article: “If, say, Foles takes 80% of the offensive snaps, has a passer rating above 95 and the Bears qualify for the playoffs, he would earn a $2.5 million incentive.” However, here is where the void provisions come into play.

Biggs also reports: “The final two years of the contract would automatically void if Foles is on the field for at least half of the Bears’ offensive plays during the regular season and postseason and they reach the NFC championship game. The deal can be voided after two years if similar provisions are met in 2021.” It remains to be seen if there are other ways Foles can personally void the remaining years of the deal, which was reported initially. I believe that is the case and will follow up when we at Over The Cap know more. Voiding simply means that Foles would opt out of his contractual obligation with the Bears and become a free agent. If he did play so well as to earn all $6 million in incentives in 2020, the overwhelming odds are that he would void 2021 and 2022 and hit the open market for a new contract.

This is where the structure of the guarantees becomes even more important. The $4 million signing bonus will be dead cap no matter what if the contract voids in any way, but after 2020 there will just be $2.66 million in signing bonus prorations remaining. Guaranteed base salary ($5 million total after 2020) would disappear. Finally, depending on the void date and the payment date of the 2021 roster bonus, that may disappear as well. If not, there would still only be $6.66 million in dead money after 2020, which isn’t too bad at all. So, the Bears likely wouldn’t be on the hook for much beyond 2020… but they also wouldn’t have a quarterback on the roster.

In that scenario, the Bears would probably try to work out an extension with Foles. When a contract voids in any way, the player is NOT eligible to return the team a compensatory pick if he were to sign elsewhere in Free Agency. So, it would make even more sense for the Bears to try to work with Foles on an extension, especially given the one void scenario we do know of involves him leading the Bears to the NFC Championship game.

After all the speculation surrounding the restructured deal, in my opinion this is a very good contract for the Bears (for a full breakdown check out his page on Over The Cap). It definitely has the potential to leave the Bears in a precarious position at QB after 2020, but in that hypothetical Nick Foles plays so well that he earned more than what was left on the deal. If Nick Foles plays very well in 2020, the Bears will likely make a deep playoff run.

The contract does leave the door open for a QB competition, and that has to be mentioned when discussing this new deal. But personally, I’d be shocked if Nick Foles isn’t under center in Week 1 (if the NFL season happens… but that’s a story for a different day).

The Bears are now sitting around $11 million in 2020 cap space, and this is before any extension for Allen Robinson as has been suggested, or any other restructures. There is some room for a mid-tier move or two, presumably at strong safety or perhaps guard.

I felt good about the Foles deal when Brad first shared his thoughts on the restructure, but now that more has been cleared up I feel even better.

Thanks again to Brad for breaking the deal down in such an easy to understand way, and all you guys that do the Twitter thing make sure you give him a follow @BradOTC.