July 22, 2014

Cowboys and Redskins to have hearing in May

PFT is reporting that the Redskins and Cowboys will have their grievance heard in May. The grievance is over the issue of the NFL forcing them to take salary cap hits for player contracts they front-loaded in the uncapped year.

The league contends that the Cowboys and Redskins violated the “spirit” of the salary cap during the uncapped year of 2010, even though the NFL approved all contracts submitted by the teams containing payments in 2010. The circumstances suggest that the NFL tried to impose restrictions on spending that didn’t exist in the labor deal, which would constitute collusion in the uncapped year.

I will be watching this one anxiously. I’ve discussed the topic at length already. I am of the opinion that the league didn’t actually punish either of the teams. In the end, the NFL forced the clubs to account for salaries that they were obligated to pay out anyway in a different manner. A punishment in my mind would have been to dock them draft picks or force them to take an actual penalty amount above what they were forced to move.

The Redskins didn’t have to pay a dime more than what they had agreed to pay Albert Haynesworth. They just weren’t allowed to dump it all in one year like they tried to do. The only thing in my mind that could be made to look punitive is the fact that other teams have an extra $1.6 million in cap dollars that the Redskins and Cowboys don’t have available.

I keep coming out on the minority side in this issue if I am taking the pulse of the public correctly. So, we’ll see.

[Related: Explaining the cap penalties on the Redskins and Cowboys]

NFL Free Agency: Breaking down Frostee Rucker’s deal and cap costs

Frostee Rucker signed a five-year deal for $20.5 million! That means the Browns are paying Frostee Rucker $4.1 million per year!

Now that we have that out of the way, I thought it might be interesting to look inside the deal and how the Browns protected themselves, yet gave Frostee Rucker a good amount of money at the same time.

According to the updated information on Rotoworld, Frostee Rucker’s deal breaks down like this.

From a cash flow perspective, the Browns gave Frostee $5 million for a signing bonus. Frostee is all but guaranteed to make his first year salary of $1 million. 2012 will be a great year for Frostee Rucker as he’ll make $6 million of Randy Lerner’s money. But, from a cap perspective it works out differently for the Browns in case Frostee Rucker can’t be a beneficial contributor to the team.

The $5 million signing bonus can be spread out over the life of the deal, or five years. So, if Frostee Rucker plays out his entire deal, it will look something like this.

  Salary Signing Bonus Cap #
2012 $1.0 $1.0 $2.0
2013 $2.5 $1.0 $3.5
2014 $3.7 $1.0 $4.7
2015 $3.5 $1.0 $4.5
2016 $4.1 $1.0 $5.1

The numbers only add up to $19.8 instead of $21.5 million so I figure they’re missing a small roster or workout bonus in there somewhere. Close enough for rock ‘n roll, though. The really important number is what it would cost the Browns to cut Frostee Rucker early.

That is whatever amount of signing bonus is left over, so it is $5 million in 2012 and declining $1 million every year thereafter. So if the Browns cut Rucker before the 2013 season, they’d take a cap hit of $4 million, but it would only cost them $3.5 million if he remained on the roster to play as you can see above.

This sets up a decision point for the team before 2014. That’s when the lines cross because the Browns either pay Rucker $4.7 million to play, or they can cut him and the cap hit will only be $3 million. That’s a hefty cap hit, but depending on what kind of situation they’re in it could be important money to save.

Is it a good deal for the Browns? Initially, yes. The Browns obviously need Rucker to play well for it to be a good deal. In the meantime from a salary cap standpoint, the Browns retain maximum flexibility in 2012 by only using up about $2 million for Rucker’s services.

Ideally for the Browns, Frostee Rucker will be a valuable member of the team for at least three seasons. It doesn’t seem that many five-year deals are finished and that’s why the last year is such a high number. That’s the number – no matter how frequently it turns out to be meaningless – that allows an agent to crow about the “MORE THAN $21 MILLION” he just got for his player.

It is a cheap pop, when all he really did was get Frostee Rucker $6 million in cash today. Shouldn’t that be noteworthy enough?

Report: Browns have $17.4 million in cap space

Pro Football Talk has the current list NFL teams’ cap space figures after the league announced Sunday the cap for 2012 has been set at $120.6 million.

The Browns have the 12th most cap space in the league, according to these figures. The team with the most money to spend in free agency and for draft picks is the Cincinnati Bengals with a whopping $49.9 million dollars. After cutting salary the last few weeks, the Steelers have $10.6 million for their draft picks and to pursue resigning WR Mike Wallace.

[Related: Browns could have $20 million to spend in free agency]

[Related: Steelers clearing cap space]

Report: Browns could have $20 million to spend in free agency

According to the Sun Sentinel, the Cleveland Browns have an estimated $103 million in salaries for next season, putting them significantly below the projected salary cap of between $121 and $125 million.

As the piece points out, teams can trim salary by waiving players or restructuring deals. The Browns have several free agents of their own to try and work out agreements with as well, including MLB D’Qwell Jackson and RB Peyton Hillis. Not to mention everyone’s favorite kicker, Phil Dawson.

The Cincinnati Bengals top the list of available cap space with an estimated $40 million to spend. Much of that should go to keeping several of their own players, however they will have cash to play with in the FA market. The Steelers will have the most fat to trim, as they are projected to be over the cap by around $25 million.

[Related: NFL Free Agents: The Linebackers]

NFL Free Agency: Someone’s About to be Overpaid

This afternoon the players are reportedly going to vote into agreement the new CBA, which will begin the start of the most frantic free agent signing period the NFL (or any league for that matter) has ever seen. New deals won’t be official until after the union has re-formed, but according to reports teams can begin talking with free agents as soon as this afternoon.

But here are some numbers for you to think about. 24 teams are a combined $559 million dollars under the cap. And that’s before teams like Dallas and the Jets start shedding salary so they can be free agent players too. Now take a look at the free agents available. No question that some of the players at the top of the list are going to get big bucks, and deservedly so (I say that only in comparison to other football players of course), but with that much money to spend there is no question that some team is about to overpay big time for mediocre talent.

Teams like Tampa Bay (59.2) and Seattle (39) are mega millions away from the cap. The Cardinals (37.3), Bengals (35.9), Bears (37), Chiefs (34.3), Bills (35.9) and Browns (33.3) are right behind them. [Read more...]

While We’re Waiting… Cleveland Suffering, Assigning Blame and Hall of Fame Oddity

While We’re Waiting serves as the early morning gathering of WFNY-esque information for your viewing pleasure. Have something you think we should see? Send it to our tips email at tips@waitingfornextyear.com.

Scott’s latest published at The Post Game- “What Cleveland is enduring at this point is not only unexpected, but the aforementioned revolution. As distinguished writer Clay Shirky states, within revolutions, old ideals get broken faster than the new ideals can be put in its place, and the magnitude of any given experiment is not apparent at the moment it appears. During times of chaos, short-term resolutions do not always resolve. Coupling this with the information age and the constant reminder of inferiority, this hardwood hell becomes even more gut-wrenching.” [Scott/The Post Game] [Read more...]

NFL Free Agency Rumors: Browns Interested in Lawyer Milloy?

One of the bigger names that the Browns have hitting free agency within the week is arguably strong safety Sean Jones.  Jones had solid campaigns in 2006 and 2007, averaging 104 tackles with five interceptions and about 13 passes defensed.  However, during a contract year in 2008 that would have typically brought out the best in most players, injuries kept Jones to 12 games and a regression in statistics as the strong safety only managed to record 56 tackles on the season.  Not exactly the capitalization that he or the Browns would have hoped.

His salary last season was just over $2 million.  Being in a position of need for many teams, testing the free agent market is likely the best for both he and the team as placing the franchise tag on him would require $6.34 million.  Odds are that the Browns are hoping to reach an agreement that would not cost that much on the books, but would keep a currently 26-year old safety with the team for the foreseeable future.

But realizing that the middle of the field may also be a position of weakness for our own team, the Browns appear to be interested in a veteran, leadership-type presence at the safety spot in former Atlanta Falcon Lawyer Milloy.

[Read more...]