Welcome back, friends. Last time you visited the blog we got a quick overview of the NFL salary cap and some of its nuances (Like that? Yeah, I’ve been reading my dictionary). In part two we talk about what dead money is and how it affects salary money in the NFL.
Now dead money has nothing to do with paying awful players. If that was the case, the New Jersey…sorry New York Giants would need a week-long funeral. No dead money is money that a team has to assign to a player that it chooses to cut. This helps to assure that all salary dollars paid by a team are allocated to its salary cap. By now you may be saying, “MZE, what in the hell are you talking about?” Relax, my students. Let me take you through a little scenario.
Let’s just say the New Jersey…New York (I will NEVER get used to this geographic anomaly) Giants decide to overpay an offensive lineman $50 million over five years with $30 million guaranteed. Also under the deal, the player gets a $15 million signing bonus and bonuses of $1 million each year for workouts as soon as he satisfies the offseason workout requirements. With the Giants I’m guessing that would be carrying Eli around on his shoulders to make sure he doesn’t put too much weight on his old knees. I’m big on illustrations so here’s what the contract would look like:
Still with me? Okay prepare to get lost for a second. The signing bonus in the table was prorated throughout the life of the contract, as allowed. However the bonus itself could have paid out entirely up front so in Year 1, the player may have received $19,200,000 in actual cash. That would mean only $6,200,000 paid out in Year 2, $7,200,000 paid in Year 3, $8,200,000 paid in Year 4, and $9,200,000 paid in Year 5. Now that your head feels like that of an actual Giants fan after a day of drinking and watching another disappointing loss, let’s continue.
It’s been two years with the overpaid lineman and the Giants think an inanimate carbon rod would be a better left tackle. It looks like the big fella is going to get cut before his third training camp. In total cash payouts, he’s received $25,400,000 but if you remember he’s only cost them $16,400,000 against the cap. Also remember that the Giants, in their infinite wisdom, guaranteed $30 million on this contract. Cutting him will cost the team another $4.6 million dollars. That’s a hell of an alimony payment. So now we can calculate the ‘dead money.’
They’ve paid him $25,400,000 in cash. They owe him $4,600,000 to get to $30,000,000 guaranteed. They’ve taken total cap hits of $16,400,000 thus far on the contract. Deduct the cap hits from the $30 million in total pay outs and the team’s dead money is $13,600,000. Here’s the problem for the Giants (aside from not knowing what state they actually play in), Year 3 of the contract was only going to be a $10.2 million hit to the cap. By cutting this player, they take a $13.6 million hit. Not an economically sound decision but neither was the contract in the first place. If cash isn’t a concern, they may as well hold onto Buster McBusterson one more season. Do that and it’s only $6 million in dead money to cut him. Only $6 million. Compare that to the $11.2 million cap hit the Giants would have taken by keeping him on the roster, and it’s the smart thing to do…until they sign Buster’s replacement, Ika Notblock, to an even bigger contract.
Hopefully this has been helpful to you, readers. One part to go in my three part series. Don’t worry. You will not be tested on this material.
Until we meet again, make sure you get your money up front, know the only guarantee in life is that Robert Kraft likes strip malls, and real dead money is buying a draft beer and spilling it when you go to take off your coat.
Yours in football,
Mike Zimmers Ears is a Minnesota Vikings fan and regular contributor on Blitzed. He also hosts his own Vikings podcast Sound the Gjallahorn.
Welcome to the offseason Blitzers. I’m back after a couple weeks off to recover from the massive hangover that the Super Bowl gave me. I refuse to mention the word Champions and New England in the same sentence that refers to them as the best team so hopefully mixing up the order of the words accomplishes that. It's been a few weeks since the guys have put out a show so there’s nothing new for me to report. Coach probably still is on an epic rant about Tom Brady and the %^$&# Patriots (or all the other teams who couldn’t beat them). Seriously, thanks Chargers, Chiefs and Rams. Stats Guy is still drinking in the corner from his team’s recent acquisition of the former Super Bowl MVP Joe Flacco, while poor Rookie is lost in the shuffle of having to deal with both of them at the same time. Since it's been a while, you can catch their latest podcast here to wet your whistle until this week’s edition comes out:
Free Agency took the NFL world by storm recently and just at the right time. We needed a boost of football and the whole Antonio Brown/Le’Veon Bell drama just wasn’t doing it for me. Scouring the waiver wire and recent signings, I’ve decided to highlight some of the best signings that may make the biggest differences for their new teams in 2019 and beyond.
Free Agent Studs
Nick Foles QB (JAX)
4 years, $88 Million
Finally, Nick Foles is free from the Carson Wentz shadow and is back as THE man of an NFL team. Jacksonville desperately needed to upgrade the quarterback position after suffering through too many years of the Blake Bortles experiment. Nick Foles is an instant upgrade that brings a much-needed offensive leader with playoff exerience to an extremely talented team that severely under performed in 2018, mostly due to the offensive ineptitude. The question remains, however, is if Nick Foles is up to the task to succeed for an entire year in a quarterback-driven league. Foles’ best year came back in 2013 with Philadelphia where he passed for 2,891 yards with 27 touchdowns and only 2 interceptions in 13 games. While taking care of the ball is great and all, those stats don’t exactly jump off the page. The reality is, it’s his most recent success with Philadelphia while filling in for the oft-injured Carson Wentz that finally landed him that big payday. Beating New England in the Super Bowl will do that for you. The NFL will see if he’s truly up to the task.
Blitzed Bartender Prediction: 3,800 yds, 32 TDs 12 INTs
Mitch Morse C (BUF)
4 years, $44 Million
Quick, raise your hand if you know who lead the league in rushing for quarterbacks last year? Anyone? It was Josh Allen. He ran for 631 yards while only starting in 11 games (that ranked 31st for the entire league). That’s not something you want out of your franchise quarterback who’s biggest asset is his cannon for an arm. The majority of those yards came because of the breakdown of the offensive line in front of him and Allen running for his life. Brandon Beane and company needed to fix the worst offensive line in the league and they targeted a young, talented center out of Kansas City from the get go. In 11 games played last year, Morse was in for 739 snaps and over 530 of those snaps were passing protections. He was credited with giving up only 5 pressures on the quarterback all year, flagged only 5 times for penalties and gave up zero (0) sacks. Plus word on the street is the guy loves wings. So this was a tremendous signing and great way to start rebuilding that wall in front of the face of their franchise.
Blitzed Bartender Prediction: (effect on Josh Allen stats) - 3,650 yds, 600 yds rushing 28 TDs, 16 INTs
Dee Ford DE (SF)
5 years, $85 Million
Seen above here checking in on how Andrew Luck's surgically repaired shoulder is holding up. Everyone says the same thing- “He only had one good year, which was this past year and he cashed in on it.” A- that’s wrong. In 2016, he actually had 12 sacks and pressured the quarterback 42 times. He had a down year in 2017 but didn’t receive starter snaps while dealing with some injuries. This past year, Ford went off. He had 13 sacks and a ridiculous 69 quarterback pressures. His greatest strength is his quickness and speed to the quarterback. He averaged 3.74 seconds to the quarterback per sack last year. That’s generally not enough time for a quarterback to snap the ball, drop back and find an open man before Ford is on top of him. Now San Francisco has paired him with Deforest Buckner on the defensive line and offensive coordinators are going to have an unbelievably difficult time stopping both players from getting to their quarterbacks. This was another great free agent pick up and this bartender believes he will be well worth the money the 49ers ponied up to pry him away from KC.
Blitzed Bartender Prediction: 58 TKL, 16 sacks, 3 FF, 1 FR
Le’Veon Bell (NYJ), Mark Ingram (BAL), John Brown (BUF), Jesse James (DET), Trent Brown (OAK)
The teams above made a big splash the past couple weeks with free agents deciding to play in their new homes respectively. Oakland was making waves all over the place, signing free agents (not to mention linebacker and CTE poster child Vontaze Burfict) but also by landing the mercurial Antonio Brown via trade with the Pittsburgh Steelers. What amazed me most was that Oakland was able to land one of the best wide receivers in the league for only a 3rd and 5th round draft pick. That means they still were able to keep all three of their 1st round picks acquired this past season for Khalil Mack and Amari Cooper. I may have thought Jon Gruden was a bit loose in the head making these moves but he is beginning to look like he is putting together quite the team in Oakland before they head over to Vegas. Because of that, I have decided to give the guys a rather different drink this week called the Oakland Black Magic Cocktail. Lets face it, they’ve definitely performed some sort of magic to turn over that roster thus far.
Oakland Black Magic Cocktail
3 ½ oz. Guinness Stout
1 ½ oz Bulleit Bourbon
2 tsp Grenadine
1 tbsp Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice
Blitzed Build: Add the blackberries, bourbon, grenadine and lime juice into a cocktail shaker. Muddle the blackberries thoroughly. Half fill the shaker with ice and shake hard for 30 seconds. Pour into a rocks glass filled with ice. Stir in the Guinness. Enjoy.
The key to all this magic Gruden seems to be pulling off lies within those three 1st round picks. If they nail them and pick players that develop into all pros, Oakland comes out on top. Between Trading for Antonio Brown, signing Trent Brown and having three top 32 picks in this April’s draft, things are certainly looking up for the Oakland-soon-to-be-Vegas Raiders.
That’s all for now Blitzers. I’ll be back again soon with another drink for the guys and more offseason chatter. As always, remember to always take Brady’s name in vein, tip your bartenders on the way out and if you’ve had too much to drink, give your keys to a friend.
The NFL knows no off season. We are into free agency where money talks and fan rationality walks. Big contracts are flying around but why can’t your team participate? You want answers and you want them right now, so MZE has dug into the financial end of the game and is here to help. In part one of this three part series I explore the beguiling world of the NFL salary cap.
The NFL has a salary cap in place, which is an excellent policy, because theoretically it gives every team and equal opportunity to compete with each other by giving each team the same amount of money to spend on players. It’s like when you and your siblings all got the same allowance no matter how old you were or which one of you was better at kissing your parents’ asses to get what you wanted (nice try, Becky!).
It’s the job of the Collective Bargaining Agreement to set the cap for a season, which is a pre-negotiated percentage of league revenue. Overall, based on the current CBA, between 2015-2020 the players receive 48.5% of total league revenue. Back in 1994, the first year of the cap, each team had $34 million to spend on players. That number for 2019 will be $188.2 million. That’s a whopping 453.5% increase.
Now just because this money is available doesn't mean teams have to spend it all. It also doesn’t mean teams can go out and load up on every XFL castoff out there. There is a rule that teams must spend an average minimum of 89% of this money on player salaries over a four-year predetermined period. The current spending period runs from 2017 through 2020. As an example, if a team wants to spend 85% of the cap over two years, it can. That also means over the last two years of the four-year period it has to spend at least 93% of the cap. So if you wanted to see which organizations want to maximize profit (looking at you, Bengals), you'd probably notice them flirting more with that 89% minimum.
Spotrac has a great tool to see how teams allocate their cap dollars. Check it out here.
There’s some protection built into the cap for the players as well. A secondary requirement is that a minimum of 95% of the total salary cap for the 32 teams must be spent on player salaries. If it isn’t, the money is distributed among the players. Must be fun being the accountant for the league, huh?
Now how the cap gets calculated is a complex thing. There’s a formula used that takes into account all revenue streams for the league. Things like ticket sales, merchandise, television contracts, and seat licenses are all considered when make the annual cap determination. Players receive 55% of media revenue (i.e. television money), 45% of post season revenue and 40% of locally generated revenue (i.e. stadium naming rights).
So what happens if a team blows past the cap? Well it all depends upon how the league sees the violation, but the penalties can be pretty strict. For example, the 2012 Washington Redskins took a $36 million hit to their cap space thanks to some creativity taken in 2010 with Albert Haynesworth's and DeAngelo Hall's contracts. That same year saw the Cowboys get hit with a $10 million cap penalty. That’s why teams employ ‘capologists’ now to ensure they’re conforming with league rules.
So that’s part one of the series. In part two we’ll talk about dead money, and no, it is not just a biography of Sam Bradford.
Until next time, make sure you cap your beer so it doesn’t go flat, keep your streams flowing inside the bowl, and collectively bargain to get a two-for-one drink night every chance you can.
Yours in football,
Every March it happens. Hundreds of college football players gather in Indianapolis for the Underwear Olympics, wearing shorts and dry-fit muscle shirts to perform all kinds of drills in hopes of impressing potential NFL employers. It's become so big that major portions of it are now televised. But just how big a deal are good or bad performances at the combine? Should scouts really care if a player ran a 4.5 instead of a 4.6 in the 40? From what I can tell, teams should exercise a 'buyer beware' mentality.
Here are five college players who absolutely killed it at the combine, but didn't live up to those expectations in the NFL.
Mike Mamula (LB)
Mamula attended Boston College from 1991-1994. His early college career was hampered by a shoulder injury but in his final two seasons he recorded a whopping 29 sacks, garnering him some NFL eyeballs. At the 1995 combine, Mamula became the boy that every team wanted to ask to the dance. He put up a 38 ½” vertical jump and ran a 4.58 in the 40-yard dash. The Eagles fell so hard for him that they moved up five spots in a swap with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and grabbed Mamula with the 7th overall pick. Mamula lasted only five years in the NFL, all with the Eagles, recording just 209 combined tackles and 31.5 sacks. But hey, Eagles fans, don’t feel bad. Tampa drafted some bum named Warren Sapp with the pick you gave them. Wait, what?
Matt Jones (QB)
Matt Jones spent four years at the University of Arkansas as the team’s quarterback. He threw for over 5,800 yards in his career and ran for over 2,500 more. It was at the 2005 combine when teams stood up and took notice. His sub-4.4 40 time and 10’10” broad jump made the Jacksonville Jaguars use the 21st pick in the draft to take Jones and convert him to a full-time wide receiver, hoping to take advantage of his size and speed. He spent four seasons in Jacksonville averaging 40 catches a year and accumulating only 2,153 yards. Jones missed the final four games of the 2008 season due to cocaine charges and was ultimately dumped before the 2009 season due to a second violation of the NFL substance abuse policy. By the way, three picks after Jones, a quarterback named Aaron Rodgers was drafted by the Green Bay Packers.
Chris Henry (RB)
Not to be confused with Derrick Henry, Chris Henry went to Arizona University from 2003-2006. As a running back he ran for 892 yards total in his career with a measly 3.3 YPC average. For some reason he felt these numbers were good enough to come out early and enter the 2007 NFL Draft. Like they say, “There’s a sucker born every minute,” and in 2007, it was the Tennessee Titans. Henry’s 4.40 40-yard dash, 26 reps of 225 pounds, and 32” vertical jump got Henry taken with the 50th overall pick in the draft. Henry had just 32 carries and 122 career yards with the Titans and was completely out of the NFL by 2011. Henry was basically the “Achy-Breaky Heart” of Nashville football.
Darrius Heyward-Bey (WR)
Heyward-Bey played for three seasons at the University of Maryland before declaring for the 2009 NFL draft despite a fairly pedestrian career with only 138 catches and 2,089 receiving yards. At the 2009 combine however, Heyward-Bey blew away the Raiders with his 4.3 40-yard dash and it was enough to get him taken 7th overall. He played just four seasons with the Raiders catching 140 balls for 2,071 yards. He was with the Colts for a cup of coffee and has been with the Steelers since 2014, but has only 33 catches total with them. Speed kills folks, and in this case it killed the Raiders.
Stephen Hill (WR)
Hill was a wide receiver for Georgia Tech from 2009-2011. Playing WR for Georgia Tech during that time period was like being the organizer of the Vikings Super Bowl parade. Hill had just 49 catches for 1,248 yards in his time at Georgia Tech. At the 2012 combine though, Hill posted a 4.36 40-yard dash time. The Jets decided to spend their 2nd round pick on the speedster just like the girl who thinks she can take the bad boy and make him into someone all parents would love. Hill felt right at home with the Jets catching only 45 balls for 594 yards in two years.
So there you go. Five guys who did great things in shorts and t-shirts that did nothing in helmets and pads. I guess game film is just too boring for some scouts to watch.
Until next time stretch before you drink a 40, make your only vertical a funnel with a hose attached, and save your shorts and tees for that beach vacation.
Yours in football,
Mike Zimmers Ears is a Minnesota Vikings fan and regular contributor on Blitzed. He also hosts his own Vikings podcast Sound the Gjallahorn.