Category Archives: Fire Over the Cap

OTC on the Bears’ offseason

We love “over the cap” – a web site that attempts to explain how NFL teams operate and how they leverage the economics of NFL contracts to construct teams and increase (or not) their chances of success.  It is also ironic that the main guy running the site is a Jets fan because the Jets generally fail to take his advice and do everything wrong.

In a disturbing but seemingly accurate summary of the Bears’ offseason and turnover on their roster…

19. Bears

Snaps Lost Quality Snaps Lost Quality ST Lost Avg. APY Lost Avg. Rank
22.3% 14.3% 9.8% $2,622,083 17.5

This has to qualify as one of the oddest offseasons of all time.  The Bears were relatively average in their turnover despite having a terrible team last season and went out and signed an expensive free agent quarterback and drafted a top QB but sold off their best receiver.  This has all the makings of a front office giving a head coach enough rope to hang himself so that their hands are clean when they fire him next season. When final rosters are set and we revisit the snaps gained and lost I expect everything to cancel out except for Glennon. If Glennon fails expect wholesale changes in 2018 with Fox being the fall guy for 2017. I don’t know if that’s the way to run the team or not.

It is hard for me to improve on that, especially

I don’t know if that’s the way to run the team or not

On the Carr Contract

Every swinging dick on the face of the planet has thoughts on the David Carr contract, and so do I.

As usual, OTC has the breakdown of the numbers, and also as usual, I agree with most of what is said in this piece.

However, I have a few things to add.

Most readers of OTC should know that Aaron Rodgers was responsible for tanking the qb market and it appears that his artificial ceiling may have been broken. With the coming deals for Stafford and Ryan, we should see numbers above Carr’s new deal relatively soon.

I always enjoy it when OTC talks about getting “Flaccoed”. That guy cost me $$ in Reno when the Ravens won the Super Bowl. I relish every article I read about how poorly his contract has served the Ravens since.

But back to Carr. The thing that the OTC piece ignores is that NFL teams really HAVE NO CHOICE when they have an inkling of a franchise QB. Carr is very good, but he got injured at the end of last season and the Raiders instantly looked like the Bears. That was a fantastic test tube for everyone to see. No QB, no team. Period.

What are the options? Keep bringing in people like Luther, or McClown? You will NEVER have success with a strategy that does not involve a franchise QB. Sure, the Ravens of old got away with it (and so did the 85 Bears, for that matter) but that horse has long ago left the barn. Franchise QB or bust. Just draft ’em, and pay ’em. In this light, you can’t really fault the Grabowski pick of this year for the Bears. Just keep stockpiling QB’s and keep trying to land the franchise guy. It really is the only way.

At What Cost?

So, anything to talk about for the draft? Anything?

Well, I suppose so. Ha, ha.

Obviously the huge news was the much derided trade to get Trubisky. Before I try to get into the actual cost of that trade, and trying to resolve it against the second round moves, lets talk about a concept.

Back a few weeks ago I wrote about the Chicago quarterback dogpile. While we had a dogpile, I don’t really have a problem with the stockpiling of quarterbacks. It is obviously the most important position in the league and when things go south, so does your team (anyone really like seeing Pickles on the field?).

In LA, the Rams made a mistake and had no backup when their starter went down last year and they had to toss Goff into the fire. Against what I predicted, he flopped hard, and Wentz of all people did well. You never know. But I think it is always best to let a new college fresh qb get some reps and garbage time in before tossing him into the fray. With the current stockpile, we will have the luxury of letting Trubisky watch Glennon/Sanchez/Shaw get killed while he is learning and getting used to the speed of the NFL. The concept is pretty sound and I think it is a trend that you will see with other NFL teams.

But at what cost? According to Jason at Over the Cap, the cost was approximately $12.6mm. But, as I predicted in a text to a friend last night, Pace traded down in the second round.

Bears got:
2nd round, 45th pick
4th round, 119th pick
6th round, 197th pick
4th round, 2018

Cardinals got:
2nd round, 36th pick
7th round, 221st pick

Trubisky trade:
Bears give up:
3rd round, 67th pick
4th round, 111th pick (note, the Bears have another 4th rounder this year)
3rd round, 2018

So what does all of this number soup mean? Well, the 7th rounder is crap, and is just about as valuable as a UDFA so I will cross that off the list. The fourth rounders that the Bears gave to SF and got from Arizona basically cancel each other out. The sixth and fourth from 2018 from the Cardinals basically (to me) cancel out the third we gave up to the Niners this year. So we are out, if you believe me, one third round pick to move up one spot in the first round and get Trubisky. I suppose you could dive into the numbers and hash all of this out to the penny, but I am too lazy for that.

And this isn’t taking into account that Pace might have more deals up his sleeve.

If you add to all of this that proof is beginning to bubble up that there was indeed competition for that second pick and that Trubisky was a highly rated player for a lot of teams and the decision doesn’t seem so terrible. In fact, it should bother us none at all. We needed a qb, we got likely the best on the board and we are moving forward.

In addition, what if Glennon is decent? Well, again, with the luxury of letting Trubisky sit the bench, he is great trade bait and we could end up on the top side of the trade with the Niners if we deal him away at a later date. When you think about it, there isn’t much wrong with any of this.

Kevin White’s Contract is Fully Guaranteed

Jason at Over the Cap was kind enough to answer a question I had about Kevin White’s salary.  My question was if the Bears got any salary/cap relief from the injury, since he will not be playing this year.

The answer is a big, fat NO.  Below is a chart I found at the Business Insider of all places, showing you the salaries of the 2014 draft picks by round, and what portion is guaranteed.  We can assume the 2015 draft class salaries were close:

draft pick chart

As you can see, White falls into fully guaranteed area.  I imagine this covers football related injuries only, and that there is likely some relief for non-football related injuries, but I don’t have the time and patience right now to look that up.  The bottom line is that White is out, and he is getting paid full money, we take the full cap hit, and the Bears can’t do anything but suck it up.  In fact, if you look at the chart, there really isn’t any real relief until round two of the draft.

At least we didn’t have the number one pick and have to eat it like Houston with JaDaveon Clowney.  That is the only saving grace with this whole terrible situation.

The Real Cost of Ray Rice

A few years ago when we went to Reno for the Super Bowl weekend, Carl and I beat against the Ravens…just because Baltimore sucks, of course. As we all know, that game cost us money.

The one good thing that came out of that Ravens victory was that it was Joe Flacco’s free agent year and Baltimore basically had to sign a very average quarterback to a very expen$ive, very long term deal.

I guess that will happen to every team that wins a Super Bowl to some degree (I can’t imagine what Russell Wilson’s next deal will look like). On top of this soaking, now the Ravens are going to get soaked on Ray Rice.

Back in 2012, Rice signed a big contract with a $15mm signing bonus. That bonus was prorated over the maximimum five years which = $3mm per year on the cap. Rice also had a prorated roster bonus, another $1.75mm hit. His total cap charge for the Ravens will be $4.75mm this year. The Ravens have taken his combined 2015 and 2016 prorated years and decided to eat all of it in 2015 (or maybe they had to, not sure on this). So next year, Rice’s cap hit (technically dead money) will be $3mm + $3mm + $1.75mm +$1.75mm for a grand total of a $9.5mm cap hit for 2015. That smarts.

So not only are the Ravens out all of the money they paid him up front, their cap space will be hurt next year, on top of having all of the egg on their face in the press. Since they cut him they can’t get any of the money back***. Rice’s legacy will be felt in the Ravens front office for a while.

***unless Rice has a conduct clause in his contract and even if he does, the odds are that like most NFL players, he has spent most of this money immediately with nothing to show for it – the lawyers time to claw back the money from Rice might cost the Ravens more than they could actually collect. I guess they could bring some sort of civil suit, but with the bad press they already have received, they would just be swatting another hornet’s nest at this point. I imagine that the Ravens just want to bury this and move on.

(Thanks to Jason at Over the Cap for help on understanding Rice’s deal).

League Minimum

Carl dropped a comment in the previous thread about Gabe Carimi that I was going to comment on but it was getting too long and morphed into this post.

Per Spotrac, here is the league minimum:

0 $420k $435k $4450k $465k $480k
1 $495k $510k $525k $540k $555k
2 $570k $585k $600k $615k $630k
3 $645k $660k $675k $690k $705k
4-6 $730k $745k $760k $775k $790k
7-9 $855k $870k $885k $900k $915k
10+ $955k $970k $985k $1M $1.015M

YOE = years of experience.  YOE is an interesting topic and the calculations for what exactly constitutes a YOE are mind blowing.  Sometimes when you see a guy get cut inexplicably, you can look at their YOE – likely a team did it because they didn’t want to give an underperforming vet an automatic raise.

Our buddy J’Marcus Webb signed a one year deal with the Chefs at $730k, league minimum for his YOE.  You can say a lot about Webb, but he has remained healthy and will be a serviceable backup for pretty much any team that needs a large body – and will help in camp when guys start going down.

But signing veterans to the league minimum sometimes has a useful benefit.  If you think you can squeeze some good play out of a guy for minimum, there is the Veteran Minimum Salary Benefit rule – again from Spotrac:

When qualified, a player with more than two years of NFL experience can earn his total minimum salary, but have a cap figure that reflects two years of experience – or in 2014, $570,000. The contract must be for only one year, and must not contain combined bonus money (signing, roster, workout) that exceeds $65,000.

For instance, Shayne Graham recently re-signed with the New Orleans Saints on a 1 year $955,000 contract. With more than two years of experience (12), and a 1 year contract, Graham qualifies for the cap hit benefit. His 2014 cap figure will be $570,000 in New Orleans.

Had he received a signing bonus of the maximum $65,000, he would have received a $1.02 million contract, with a $955,000 base salary, a $65,000 signing bonus, and a cap figure of $635,000 (570+65).

With plenty of veterans being released, or not signed back thus far in 2014, the use of the Minimum Salary Benefit Rule becomes useful both for older players looking for jobs, and teams looking to minimize their cap dollars.

This is exactly why Webb’s cap hit for KC will only be $570k this year even though his salary will be $730k.

In an odd bit of salary cap math, the cap hit for the BEARS in 2014 will be $907,918 on Carimi.  I am going to try to email a few salary cap masters as to why that is.  The solid money says a dumb contract structure (again!) from the Angelo days is the reason, but I will find out for sure.

If you need some good “on the toilet” reading, here is a BASIC primer on the cap with some definitions.  With just a basic understanding of the cap, you can immediately tell when the talking heads on the cable networks are making mistakes.

UPDATE:  I did get clarification on why the Bears are taking a cap hit for Carimi.  From my (reliable) source:

That’s money that was left over from the signing bonus that Carimi received from the Bears back when he was a rookie. He was traded last season to
Tampa after June 1 so the Bears took cap charges in both 2013 and 2014 rather than all in 2013.

I still say that Carimi was correctly selected in that draft.  One of the few things I won’t bash the previous Bear regime for.


The End of the Middle

The guys at Over the Cap are talking about Alex Smith and his contract negotiations at this post.  They use the Cutler and Romo contracts as comparisons.

In general, they are fairly brutal on the Cutler contract, which will make a lot of people here happy.  I have a couple of minor nits with the OTC post.

As usual with people who don’t like the Cutler deal, there isn’t any real alternative plan to Cutler.  Of course, the Over the Cap guys (who I highly respect, mind you) look at all of this from a purely financial/value standpoint.  And they know far more than me about the topic of relative worth in the NFL.  However, I have said in these pages a million times that I have a hard time listening to anyone carp about the Cutler deal when pure nonsense like “make Josh McClown the starter” is proposed as an alternative solution.  The OTC guys don’t make that claim, but I have heard others say that.

The bigger point that the Over the Cap guys make is totally valid, and that point is that there is basically no middle ground as far as qb’s go in the NFL now.  You have rookie deals, hangers on (I’m looking at you, Luther) and the highly paid starters.

I do take exception to this quote in the article:

Though the Bears did not sign a pricey backup for Cutler, most teams would consider signing a higher priced backup due to the injury history.

I think it unfair to leave that out there by itself in a vacuum.  The Bears themselves are responsible for most of Cutler’s injury history, by employing insane offensive coordinators and putting crappy lines in front of the qb.  Again, this isn’t really Over the Cap’s job to be keeping track of these things.  The fact is that in the past, Alex Smith has been injured less than Cutler – and that is all that the OTC guys care about.  And there is nothing wrong with that, either.