Separating Fact From Fiction Over How the NFL Salary Cap Works - Andrew Brandt

Nice Breakdown by Brandt, explaining why CASH matters and cap hits other cap implications don’t. I’ve been trying to explain my rationale for looking at Cash payouts rather than cap implications for almost 20 years, but it gets little traction. Everyone’s worried about the players cap hit and dead money. All I’m ever concerned about is guaranteed money and how much new cash a player is due. Also talks about why players should NOT take less money to help a team (and I agree) . . . I could see it for teams in cap trouble (Philly and NO), but there is no reason for Goff/St. Brown/Jonah to do that . . . not yet at least.

It’s a worthwhile read, maybe it’ll give a new perspective for some.


Thank you for this.

As the cap novice I have always been, this was really informative and I honestly think I have a better grasp of it having read it.

He made several real-life examples as well, which also helped.

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You do great work George.


" The present-day comparable is Patrick Mahomes, owner of a ridiculously long and highly undervalued contract. Mahomes, whose contract was under market soon after he signed it and locked himself in for 12 years , talks often about helping the team sign other players. To Patrick: Cap restructures do that; do not sacrifice your cash earnings!"

When Maholmes signed his new contract, wasn’t he the highest paid QB ever?
Want to stay in this top ranked position? Sign for a year or two and keep performing. Every two years you again will be the highest paid QB in the league, IF your play warrants.
If a player wants the comfort of generational wealth, sign long term with huge guarantees’ and know your salary will get passed over in the future.
Who decides what’s best for the player? The player and his agent/family.
Let’s play this closer to home, if the Lions offered Goff an extension of 2 years at $45M a year or 5 years with $200M in guarantees, what’s the smart move?

Mahomes got the security of generational wealth…
and as a QB… he will get a raise well before his contract expires.

There have already been whispers of it…

If I’m not mistaken, this off-season, the Lions restructured something with respect to Big V and with Romeo. The articles I read suggested these players took pay cuts…

@DeadStroke I’d love it if you could share your opinion on whether these two actually took pay cuts… or was it something that falls under Myth #2?

Players will often take a pay cut when both sides realize the player is no longer worth the $$ amount, even on the open market.

Option 1 - take the paycut to what both sides agree is a fair market value.

Option 2 - player gets cut, has to find a new team, has to move his family

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ROK and Big V took massive paycuts to stay. It was not a restructure. They reduced their base pays by around 80% with no new money.

Yea, Romeo, Big V and Charles Harris all took pay cuts.

  • Harris took a $3M pay cut, but has the ability to earn $3M back in NLTBE bonuses (9 sacks, 80% playing time and the lions making the playoffs would earn all $3M)
  • Romeo took a $9M pay cut, but has the ability to earn back $5M in NLTBE bonuses (12 sacks, 70% playing time, playoffs and pro bowl would earn all $5M)
  • Big V took a $6.5M pay cut, but has the ability to earn back $1.5M in NLTBE bonuses (80% playing time would earn all $1.5M), plus they voided the 2024 season, so he becomes a UFA next season, free to sign anywhere.

The salary reductions weren’t for the benefit of the team, it was as @WestCoastLionsFan said, they weren’t going to get as much on the open market. There best chance of getting a good contract next season was likely staying here in a system they know and performing well.

All three have expiring contract, all have the ability to earn all back (Charles) or some (Romeo and Big V) through incentives.

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Not sure if @DeadStroke has a theathletic subscription but a lengthy article regarding Burrow’s new contract that is coming soon. Article has long section from Brandt and discusses keeping Burrow, Higgins, and Chase; will Burrow contract elimnate that option.

“I think it’s really, really hard,” Spielberger said of keeping all three. “In my mind, you are talking $100 million per year to three players. Yes, the cap is going to rise and all those things, sure, but if you are trying to maintain a good defense, which has certainly been very valuable to this team the last couple of years, it just gets really, really tough when you have that much money allocated to so few players.”

Brandt feels these excuses don’t hold water. Paying a quarterback top of the market shouldn’t keep a team from building around him.

“It’s a copout for teams to say, ‘Hey, we can’t pay our best players because we are paying a quarterback a lot of money,'” Brandt said. “It’s not true. It’s something that you have a $230 million cap and have half your team at least on rookie contracts. This is not hard.”

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Author also states that the Bengals are targeting other premium positions a year or two before decisions have to be made on keeping players. Example of Dax Hill taking over for J Bates. Taking Myles Murphy in this draft with T Hendrickson and Hubbard already on the team but needing new deals in near future was another example. This allows them to not have to hit FA for big time players and contracts that come with it.

We shall see how it works for them.

Burrow’s extension will start in 2025 (2024 will be his fifth year option)
Chase’s extension will start in 2026 (2025 will be his fifth year option)
Higgins extension will start in 2024 (2nd round pick)

So the first year that they will have the $100M estimate will be in 2026 when all three will be on their 2nd contracts. OTC estimates that the cap will be $308, so they will be at 32.5% and a much better 3 than what Atlanta had in 2017 or the Colts in 2020.

Also, it’s hard to tell what the author is using when determining his 30% range (not sure if it’s current cap hits or APY), but it’s clear that Spielberger is talking about APY.

I think that’s just a coincidence of drafting BPA.
Our early picks can be planning for draft picks to replace players:

  • Gibbs this year to take over for Swift (final year of rookie contract)
  • Campbell to upgrade weak LB position (no one specific)
  • LaPorta to replace Hockenson (so we didn’t have to pay 5th year option/extension)
  • Hutchinson to replace Romeo/Harris
  • Jamo to replace Chark/Reynolds/etc
  • Paschal to replace Brockers
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