Raji’s Contract: Inside the Numbers

Those numbers that are reported when a new contract is signed, X years, Y million, Z million guaranteed are largely meaningless. Often the only one of those three that has any reliability is the guaranteed portion, the other two are often misleading.

With Raji’s full numbers out, I’ll break down what they all mean year by year.

The Green Bay Press-Gazette recently revealed many of the contract’s actual details here.

It is 6 year deal on paper that is essentially impossible to become a 6 year deal, the 6th year is voided if his option bonus, right after this season, is paid (if not the contract is voided immediately and he is cut)

Typical of high first round rookies, he got 2 amortized bonuses. A 2.4 million dollar signing bonus this year and a 7.0 million dollar option bonus next year. I believe the uncapped year rules for contracts means that his signing bonus this year can only be amortized over 4 years, not 5; the CBA is tough to read on this issue, that is my interpretation (and some others that I have read).

He also got a few non-amortized bonuses. He got a roster bonus of 1.26 million this year, and each year after this year he gets a 0.225 million workout bonus if he takes part in the spring S&C program. Both bonuses are payable to the cap in just one year, the year they were paid, and are treated like salary to the cap. The only difference is to the player, he gets a big lump sum check, instead of weekly game checks.

His salary fills out the rest of the guaranteed money. There is language that guarantees his salary yearly (aside from the final year, which is only injury guaranteed, and isn’t part of the reported “guaranteed” money), if the option bonus is paid next year. One thing inflating the guaranteed portion is including all salary, not just the first year or first 3 years, as guaranteed money. Sure it is guaranteed, but aside from that he isn’t actually getting that much more, it is paper inflation moreso than real dollar inflation. His yearly salary is (starting in ’09): 0.310M, 1.962M, 2.355M, 2.747M, 3.14M.

The rest of his contract are playing incentives, with a goal attached that he has to reach (such as starts, tackles, sacks, interceptions, pro bowls, etc…). It is unknown whether they are likely to be earned (LTBE) and charged to the cap in the season of the incentive, or not likely to be earned (NLTBE) and charged to the cap the following season. One of the reported incentives is said to require four pro bowl appearances to reach, a near impossibility. One can assume that one of the incentives is a yearly pro bowl incentive, a NLTBE incentive. These unknowns make up the remaining ~7 million in his contract. One thing about these type of things, if they are earned it means the player is earning his contract and isn’t really overpaid.

Using all the values his yearly cap charges are:
2009 – 2.17M + ’09 LTBE incentives
2010 – 4.54M + ’10 LTBE incentives + ’09 NLTBE incentives
2011 – 4.94M + ’11 LTBE incentives + ’10 NLTBE incentives
2012 – 5.33M + ’12 LTBE incentives + ’11 NLTBE incentives
2013 – 5.12M + ’13 LTBE incentives + ’12 NLTBE incentives

You could report this a number of ways. Using the typical rookie reporting method of considering the first 3 years of salary as guaranteed, and listing two max values, non incentive and incentive, to compare to previous seasons, it could be said that he got a 5 year 21 million dollar contact, with 15 million guaranteed, and a maximum value of 28 million if all incentives are met. Doesn’t quite have the ring of 5 years 28 million with 18 million guaranteed, but it means the same thing essentially.

For a point of reference on how much DT’s cost, Colin Cole got a 5 year 21.4 million dollar contract with 6 million guaranteed in free agency from Seattle this offseason. His yearly cap charges are:
2009 – 4.13M
2010 – 3.88M
2011 – 4.38M
2012 – 5.08M
2013 – 5.00M

Raji and Cole essentially got paid the same amount, however Raji got playing incentives in his deal that could raise the yearly amount by about 1.5M if he meets them. Also typical of rookie high first rookie contracts, a much greater % of Raji’s contract is guaranteed. The actual non-incentive based payouts of each contract are nearly identical.

Raji is not paid like an elite defensive tackle, even if the incentives are met. He received the pay of a low end starting DT.


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2 Responses to “Raji’s Contract: Inside the Numbers”

  1. Vike Daddy Says:

    2nd paragraph, you spelled revealed wrong.

  2. waldo56 Says:

    Thanks VD 🙂

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