NFL free agency got underway last week and there were a number of big name and big money deals that occurred. However, in each deal, the numbers can be a little misleading.
Each year of the contract can have a different amount of base salary, cap hit and guaranteed money. The smart general managers in the league are able to manipulate these numbers, but should they be allowed to?
Take new Miami Dolphins defensive tackle Ndamukong Suh. He signed one of the biggest deals for a defensive player, six years and $114 million. Only $60 million of that money is guaranteed, with $50 million of that being paid over the first three years.
Looking at the final two years of the deal, Suh is going to be making $42.5 million, but his cap number is going to be closer to $47 million. All it is going to cost Miami to shed themselves of the contract in 2019 is $5 million and they won’t have to worry about the $28.6 million cap hit he will have that season.
There is little to no chance Suh will see the end of his contract, and that is a shame seeing as it gives all the power to the team. The NFL shouldn’t give the owners such an easy out. If the team doesn’t want a player for six years at an average of $19 million per season, then don’t offer the contract.
The NFL should be like the other sports where there isn’t usually an easy way to get out of bad contracts. In basketball, the most likely way to get rid of a bad contract is for the player and the team to agree on a buyout.
Earlier this season, the New York Knicks bought out the contract of forward Amar’e Stoudemire and it cost them $2.5 million instead of the $10 million the Knicks owed him in the second half of the season. In hockey, buyouts are a little less common, but then again, hockey has the lowest salary cap of the three sports that use it.
The NFL is one of the most profitable leagues in the history of professional sports. There is no reason the owners should be able to get around these contracts by not having the money guaranteed.
The NFL created the franchise tag to try and keep teams together and to prevent teams from losing star players to the open market. It seems like it is a rip-off for the players, as it’s not their fault that the team they signed with had no intention of keeping them for the full length and money of the contract.
The league needs to look into making these contracts more binding and stop making it so easy on teams to get rid of players they no longer want after signing long-term deals.