Yesterday's release of Jamir Miller and Earl Holmes created a cap savings of over $18 million to the Browns. The price that the Browns must now pay, in addition to the loss of talent, is over $10 million in "dead money" which now has to be carried by the team through 2003. "Dead money" refers to a cap allocation for players who are no longer on the roster.
Here are some of the details behind yesterday's roster cuts:
1. Jamir Miller Released
Miller's contract called for $3.975 in base salary in 2003 and also contained the cut-ensuring $14 million bonus. Our previous calculations didn't take into account his $6 million signing bonus which Miller received when his contract was extended in 1999. I have not found confirmation of it in stories printed at the time, but it appears that the timing of Miller's four-year contract extension is such that it enabled the Browns to spread the cap over five years rather than four. So, while the team is pointing the finger at Dwight Clark for the team's current challenges, he deserves a quarter-million in props for negotiating that one such that the Browns could limit some of the damage. That pro-rated signing bonus portion of Miller's 1999 contract extension counts against the cap this year as dead money.
As Miller leaves the team, the Top 51 rule means that a lower-paid player (previously 52nd on the roster in terms of cap hit) takes Miller's spot for cap purposes. That player is making $300,000 in 2003, so that is deducted from the apparent cap savings.
Original 2003 Cap Hit: $19,175,000
2003 Dead Money: $1,200,000
Net Cap Savings: $17,675,000
2. Earl Holmes Released
Holmes had a cut-friendly contract due to a "reasonable" $2 million signing bonus and a cost-effective 2002 base salary. Coupled with Holmes $1 million roster bonus, it enabled the Browns to essentially rent Holmes for a year at a lower price than one would have expected. When Holmes signed the contract last year, Pittsburgh sources suggested that the Browns were prepared to cut Holmes after one year.
Holmes got a $2 million signing bonus for the five-year deal he signed prior to the 2002 season. Four years of that contract are left, so four-fifths of that bonus accelerates to this year's salary cap, resulting in $1.6 million of dead money. The Browns, however, save the $1 roster bonus Holmes would have earned, as well as his $1.225 million salary for 2003.
As in the case of Miller, Holmes spot on the team for cap purposes is taken by a player making the $300,000 minimum salary, reducing the apparent cap savings.
Original 2003 Cap Hit: $2,620,000
2003 Dead Money: $1,600,000
Net Cap Savings: $720,000
At present, we calculate that the Browns have over $10 million in dead money being carried this sseason. This ties to the amount that the team has confirmed in press accounts released today. Here is how the dead money breaks down: