Get ready for more void years in Lions contracts

Throwing out rookie contracts and contracts we inherited when acquiring the player…

Of contracts we’ve signed the last 3 years of 2.5 or more APY:
4 have no void year
13 had void years, 7 hitting this year.
6 contracts remain with a total of 7 void years.

While I’d like to argue with Risdon that Disner will NOT be racking up void years, the numbers kind of say he will. Then again, we only have a few mil in carryover from last year, suggesting that the void years were really necessary to get the players we did get. With less dead money this year and a little bit more elbow room altogether, maybe we won’t go to that well.

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I see void years as credit card spending. Buying now and paying later. The big difference, we know we be getting a big raise by the time the balance is due. The salary cap will be much higher in 3 years than it is today. Buy today at todays $$ pay it off when the raise has hit.
Will it work long term? I hope so!


Hedging against inflation… NFL style.

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I find Mickey Loomis to be a very interesting figure in this realm. A controversial figure bc of how far he took his tactics but the tactics themselves have been highly influential even if most franchises use them in greater moderation.

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"As an example, let’s say the Lions want to sign free agent CB Chidobe Awuzie as a hypothetical target. PFF lists Awuzie with an estimated free agent contract value of $21 million over two years with $12.75 million (60 percent) guaranteed, and that seems like a reasonable ballpark figure for the Lions to try and hit.

Adding a void year onto the deal would spread out the $21 million salary over three years instead of two. "

Again, Risdon not knowing what the ■■■■ he’s talking about.

Void years are only able to spread out the signing bonus across the void years. So for example, Awuzie signed this contract: 21m w/ 8m signing bonus (12.75 guaranteed) , it could look like this:


Year Base Salary Signing Bonus Guaranteed Cap Hit
1 $6,500,000.00 $4,000,000.00 $4,750,000.00 $10,500,000.00
2 $6,500,000.00 $4,000,000.00 $- $10,500,000.00
TOTAL $13,000,000.00 $8,000,000.00 $4,750,000.00 $21,000,000.00


Year Base Salary Signing Bonus Guaranteed Cap Hit
1 $6,500,000.00 $2,666,666.67 $4,750,000.00 $9,166,666.67
2 $6,500,000.00 $2,666,666.67 $- $9,166,666.67
VOID $- $2,666,666.67 $- $2,666,666.67
TOTAL $13,000,000.00 $8,000,000.00 $4,750,000.00 $21,000,000.00

When dealing with void years, only the bonus money is spread out along the void years. It can be spread up to 5 years, I believe, so there could also be an option of 3 void years at $1.6m. They can structure the rest of the contract (13m in base salary in this example) however they want. I simply just split it evenly to not make it more confusing. Same thing with the guaranteed salary (4.75m to make it 12.75m in the given example (signing + guaranteed salary), but you generally see that come in the beginning of a contract.


Year Base Salary Signing Bonus Guaranteed Cap Hit
1 $6,500,000.00 $1,600,000.00 $4,750,000.00 $8,100,000.00
2 $6,500,000.00 $1,600,000.00 $- $8,100,000.00
VOID $1,600,000.00 $1,600,000.00
VOID $1,600,000.00 $1,600,000.00
VOID $1,600,000.00 $1,600,000.00
TOTAL $13,000,000.00 $8,000,000.00 $4,750,000.00 $21,000,000.00

All this to say, “No, Jeff, the entirety of the $21m is not spread out if a void year is added.”


Hopefully the NFL never gets like baseball. Where teams like the Dodgers defer salary for decades.

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Take a look at Sutton’s contract. you’re not going to pay a signing bonus AND have that kind of base in year 1.

baseball is about as interesting as watching FieldTurf grow…



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Haha I do enjoy it… but I understand why many don’t.


Solid base education piece by Risdon.

That 12.5 million for void year hits, is that all hitting in 2024?. Making it 5% of the cap approximately.

Also, the cap is projected to jump 58M over the next 2 years, to $282M for league year 2025.

This should be seen as a way to manage the upcomung extensions, but also as a base to understand contract values are going to go way up and getting extensions done NOW saves you inflationary pressure as well as in the case of Goff, gets him paid in a season where the FA at his position are thin with less of a bidding war going on.

Even then, at $282M cap, 16% is about $45m a year, and as I gather, that seems to be the % number teams dont like going over from an analytics stanpoint.

Now, the real fun part is what % is traditional for a #1 WR? Monster Gamewrecker DE? Shutdown CB?
28M will be 10%, 25 will be 9% etc.

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My biggest concern with the use of void years is you have people in relatively short term jobs making long term decisions. Your average GM knows their days are numbered from the moment they walk through the door for the first time. Their job is to deliver a Lombardi, but only 1 out of 32 will win.

The credit card analogy is accurate, yet if you are a GM that doesn’t spend on that card, you will find yourself behind the 8 ball on every contract negotiation. Again, only one out of thirty two will win and the exit is always one bad season from being a reality. You leave the mess for the poor sap that gets hired to take your job to deal with and just try to hang on to the bull as long as you can. There’s a lot of good front office people that never get a shot at the big chair.

I believe that at some point the NFL itself is going to have to step in and place some conditions and limitations on this practice before you end up with cripple teams that are spending years cleaning up their books before they can even contemplate resigning one of their own pending free agents to a market value extension. How would you like to be a fan of that team?

The Saints and Eagles are definitely on their way, at some point, to becomimg the poster child of this issue. Dave Gettleman, former GM of the Giants, underscore former, refused to use void years. One of the first moves of his replacement Joe Schoen was to restructure Leonard Williams contract by, you guessed it, adding a void year. Of course, we all know that Gettleman was fired for lots of other reasons, but teams avoiding the void are quickly becoming obsolete, and outclassed, in their approach.

This is why I believe, for the overall health and good of the game in respect to parity and competitive equality, the NFL must step in with some control measures that level the financial playing field, ensure the financial well-being of the game, and protect teams from long-term harm inflicted by people with short term objectives.

I don’t blame Howie Roseman and Mickey Loomis for doing what they are doing, they are playing within the rules, except there are no rules when it comes to this. This is why, unlike the teams writing contracts today, this is one can the NFL can’t afford to kick down the road.


…not this GM. :wink:

good post


Well, since I have a bit of insomnia and since you got me thinking about it…

I mentioned earlier that Detroit currently has 14 void years in their contracts.
Lions amount of deferred cap via Void=$25,439,724
($14,301,529 dead cap hit in 2024)

New Orleans has a total of 58 Void years on their current contracts.
Saints amount of deferred cap via Void = $98,993,177
($0 dead cap hit from Void years in 2024)
And if we looked closer at some of the other contracts, you’ll see deferred bonus spread over contract years that are not Void years, but are priced where you know they’ll be a “cap casualty” or a restructure with future void years.

Intervention really is needed.

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The Saints are so ■■■■■■, until they fix it, they will always be mediocre.

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I’m not sure. For the last few years, the Falcons, Bears, Packers and Rams were nearing that group. They all took various degrees of correcting the issue, took a step back and are now in a much better cap space. Packers need to move on from a couple more contracts to get things back under control.

I think most teams, as they near competitiveness for the Super Bowl, use more and more void years to retain and acquire talent to get them over the top, so they can maintain their spot as a favorite for the title. The trick is knowing when to let a vet go and when to not sign an UFA. For years, the Patriots were so good at doing that.

I don’t think it needs fixing. :person_shrugging:


I have to disagree, I can see your point, that teams are finding their own level of responsibility with it, on their own and without the legue stepping in. Of course, that’s what you would like to see. My concern is that as more teams enter the fray of using this technique, it’s going to ratchet up the competition for landing some of these premier free agents, which in turn will create a market value on contracts that’s unsustainable. It’s really only a matter of time until one of them proverbially jumps the shark on using this method, and an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

I’m not saying to get rid of void years, but I do think you have to put some limitations in place, simply so it doesn’t generate it’s own issues.

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But what’s the worry? It’s not like teams don’t have the money to pay what they’ve committed to paying, and everything in a void year has already been paid anyway.

When a team jumps the shark, they’ll have to take a year or two of being frugal or rebuilding to get out of their cap mess. That’s it.

The Saints have taken their cap manipulation too far but instead of resetting, they’re continuing to try and compete but with one hand tied behind their backs because they now have a lot less cap flexibility than other teams. That’s on them. It’s not harming the NFL as a whole, or the players, it’s just them harming their own chances of competing.

Jalen Hurts carries a $97M void year cap hit in 2029, the Eagles get six years of cap relief for that contract, and then one year of reset (assuming they don’t extend him). Six maximised years against one pay the piper year isn’t a bad trade off.

Void years allow you to use more than 100% of cap space, and the way Brad Holmes has done it so far it’s very far away from being harmful. As a general rule, if you have void years that amount to less than the growth in the cap that year, then you’re not really ever going to have to settle up.

Cap Void Hit Prev Yr Future Voids Real Spend
2024 250 15 20 255
2025 275 20 25 280
2026 305 25 30 310
2027 340 30 35 345

This is a massively oversimplistic example, but it does illustrate the principle. Every year, the future voids equal the growth in the cap. So every year you’re paying off a smaller amount than you’re borrowing, which gives you a little bit more spending power. That $5m isn’t a lot but like all sports everyone in the NFL is looking for marginal gains. As long as the cap keeps growing you never have to balance things out. Obviously the cap won’t keep growing at the same rate, but like the Covid year when the cap decreased, when cap growth does slow down teams will get round the immediate problem with longer term solutions.

I don’t like void years mainly because I’m a neat freak and they’re really untidy, a three year contract should be a three year contract and all the money should be spread over those three years, but in practical, accounting terms, it’s a mostly harmless way of getting a competitive advantage. I’d wager that part of the reason Gettleman was fired was because he wasn’t keeping up with the other teams by utilising void years.


Not quite, you’re also handing over a competitive advantage to every team playing that team in the form of empty victories over a team that imploded due to something completely preventable. Thus, also handing over seeding advantages, playoff berths, etc. Yes, this occurs naturally as well, but setting the stage for allowing a team to engineer its own destruction hurts the quality of the product overall.

Yes, they have.

Definitely have to disagree here, I believe it hurts the overall product and potentially can inflict much more damage than what we have seen thus far. Like I said, as more teams join in to keep up, I think the level of stupid has an increasing potential to go up exponentially. What is to stop a GM from pushing enough void money fifteen years down the road to soak up a teams entire cap when they get to that point and that GM is long since retired? Nothing is there to stop it from happening right now.

What is to stop a GM at the brink from going on an unparalleled spending spree in a desperate effort to save their neck? Bobby Wagner, come sign here for a million next year and I’ll chuck a 50 million void year to 2039. Christian Wilkins, sign for 3 at the vet minimum and I’ll tack 3 years of 50 million void years on 39, 40, 41. You get the picture. Pretty soon you have a financial time bomb sitting out there long after the GM is gone and the team has been sold. In order to compete, other teams start doing the same thing and pretty soon you set the stage for the NFL’s version of the 2008 financial crisis.

At that point, the league will have two choices, let it play out and substantially harm the on field product, or do the NFL version of a bailout, thus ultimately rewarding the teams currently engaging in the practice by forgiving the void years from counting against the salary cap. An amnesty from past decisions if you will, while pretending that they never saw it coming.

Or…they can put everyone on a level playing field right now and avoid that future someday.

I am, for the record, placing my money on a future financial amnesty occurring, not fiscal responsibility.

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