Cap Crunching--The Plan

Earlier this week, we talked about the fix that the Redskins would be in if there is not new labor agreement by the end of this week. Today, our resident capologist looks at how they could get out of it.

One thing to keep in mind when reading this article is that a number of NFL team officials and NFLPA representatives have stated that if a new CBA agreement is not in place by the time the 2006 league year opens, 2007 will be an uncapped year regardless of an agreement being made after that date. The reason? The rules and limitations outlined below would already be in place for 2006 and would disadvantage teams and players if changed midstream.

Firstly the main limitations on teams when entering the final capped year, then the uncapped year, of the current CBA. They can be best summarised as follows:

1.      The 30 percent rules

All non-signing bonus amounts in a players contract that has a tenure greater than 2006 (and all new contracts entered into in 2006) cannot increase by more than 30 percent each year for the remaining life of the contract using 2006 (the final capped year) as the base from which this starts. The parts of the contract included in the 30 percent rule are base salary, roster bonuses, reporting bonuses, LTBE incentives and option bonuses payable in 2006 or in future years even though they are evenly spread like signing bonuses. Signing bonus amounts have no restrictions.

Termination and buyout clauses are also heavily scrutinised under this rule, and any such clauses in contracts in an attempt to circumvent the 30% rules would result in all signing bonus monies allocated to future years or any buyout compensation counting in 2006.

2.      UTBE incentives

For unlikely to be earned incentives, any amounts achieved in 2006 during the season automatically hit the salary cap in 2006 when they are earned, and cannot be nudged into 2007. Thus, teams using incentives for players as a way around the 30 percent rule could find themselves having to dump players later in the year as certain incentives are reached.

3.      Free Agency Restrictions

Any player with five years of experience who under normal capped season rules would have been an unrestricted free agent in 2007, will now be a restricted free agent in 2007 if the club decides to designate those players as restricted.

4.      Final Eight Plan

The teams that finish in the top 4 places in each conference after the 2006 playoffs are restricted in the free agents they can sign outside their own free agents in 2007. Each of the eight teams will be permitted to sign one UFA from another team for each of their own UFA's that have signed with another team.

5.      Additional Transition Tag Designation

In the last league year of a CBA teams are able to use an additional transition tag on a player.

The two areas that affect the Skins the most right now are the 30 percent rules and the free agency restrictions in 2007.

Compliance Scenario

The Redskins are currently sitting at a 2006 salary cap figure of $115.5m - $20.5m over the estimated $95m NFL cap and these leaves the Skins at real risk being in breach of the cap come March 3. Cutting of high cost players will net only minimal savings. So that brings us to the first option the Skins have to get under the cap--to cut as many non-necessity players that save money as possible, redo some contracts.

First, the players that could be released. Here's a list of 11 players with their 2006 cap savings if released in brackets:

 

That's $9.3m saved against the cap (when also figuring in the 12 players who would replace these guys under the Rule of 51)

 

Note: The Skins could re-sign a couple of the cut players at vet minimum contracts that would be at a similar level of compensation to the player as their 2006 money under the now terminated contract, but at a much lower cap value to the team.

 

Secondly, contract tinkering to fit the 30 percent rules. Here's a list of players who's contracts we could massage to make some savings with some basic restructuring:

 

Scrap the 3.5m LTBE incentive in 2006 and the 3.0m roster bonus due in 2007,
Give him an option bonus of $6m, adding another year to his contract (2012),
Make his base salaries $1.5m (2006), $2.4m (2007), $3.3m (2008), $4m (2009), $6.4m (2010), $7.3m (2011) and $8.2m (2012).
Base salaries from 2006-2009 would be guaranteed.

This would save $1.500m in 2006.

Give him an option bonus of $5m, adding another year to his contract (2009),
Make his base salaries $1.420m (2006), $2.2m (2007), $3.0m (2008) and $3.8m (2009).
All base salaries would be guaranteed.

This would save $1.350m in 2006.

Give him an option bonus of $5m, adding another year to his contract (2010),
Make his base salaries $1.2m (2006), $1.9m (2007), $2.6m (2008), $3.3m (2009) and $5.2m (2010).
Base salaries from 2006-09 would be guaranteed.

This would save $1.050m in 2006.

Scrap the $2.5m roster bonus in 2006
Give him an option bonus of $4m, adding another year to his contract (2010),
Make his base salaries $1.5m (2006), $2.250m (2007), $3.0m (2008), $3.750m (2009) and $5.5m (2010).
Base salaries from 2006-09 would be guaranteed.

This would save $1.500m in 2006.

Scrap the $0.6m LTBE incentive in 2006, and his roster bonuses in 2007/8/9
Increase his already existing option bonus in 2006 to $4m, triggering the 2009 year
Make his base salaries $0.670m (2006), $1.170m (2007), $1.8m (2008), and $2.0m (2009)
Base salaries from 2006-09 would be guaranteed.

This would save $0.327m in 2006.

Scrap the $2.5m roster bonus in 2006,
Give him an option bonus of $4m, adding another year to his contract (2011),
Make his base salaries $1.5m (2006), $2.250m (2007), $3.0m (2008), $3.750m (2009), $5.5m (2010) and $6.250m (2011).
Base salaries from 2006-09 would be guaranteed.

This would save $1.000m in 2006.

 

Scrap his $3.1m roster bonus in 2006
Give him an option bonus of $6m, adding another year to his contract (2010),
Make his base salaries $1.5m (2006), $2.4m (2007), $3.3m (2008), $4.2m (2009) and $6.6m (2010).
Base salaries from 2006-09 would be guaranteed.

This would save $0.850m in 2006.

 

Scrap his $3.0m roster bonus in 2006, $1.0m roster bonus in 2008 and $0.515m incentive in 2009
Give him an option bonus of $6m, adding another year to his contract (2012),
Make his base salaries $1.5m (2006), $2.4m (2007), $3.3m (2008), $4.2m (2009), $6.6m (2010), $7.5m (2011) and $8.0m (2012).
Base salaries from 2006-09 would be guaranteed.

This would save $0.545m in 2006.

 

Scrap the $1.6m LTBE incentive in 2006
increase his already existing option bonus in 2006 to $5m, triggering the 2010 year
make his base salaries $0.545m (2006), $1.050m (2007), $1.555m (2008), $2.060m (2009) and $3.8m (2010)
base salaries from 2006-09 would be guaranteed.

This would save $0.850m in 2006.

 

Scrap UTBE incentive from 2006
Give him an option bonus of $4m, adding another year to his contract (2011),
Make his base salaries $2m (2006), $2.9m (2007), $3.8m (2008), $4.7m (2009), $6.6 (2010) and $7m (2011).
Base salaries from 2006-09 would be guaranteed.

This would save $1.000m in 2006.

 

Reduce his roster bonuses in 2006, 08 and 09 down to $2.785m, $3.0m and $3.0m
Scrap all roster bonuses from 2010 onwards
Give him a restructure bonus of $6m,
Make his base salaries $0.545m (2006), $2.275m (2007), $2.350m (2008), $3.377m (2009), $7.4m (2010) and $8.4m (2011).
Base salaries from 2006-09 would be guaranteed.

This would save $2.215m in 2006.

That's a further $12.1m in savings against the cap.

There's $21.4m of savings, which would result in the Skins being nearly $1m under a $95m.

Refer to table for details (highlighted players are those that have restructured).

Another possibility concerning Brunell and Arrington is if each are prepared to take a decent, but what would be fair pay cut, including terminating the years on their contracts post 2009 and then reducing their base salaries and/or roster bonuses down to levels commensurate with their performance and/or age, it would give the Skins more breathing space and the ability to keep some of the players we listed to be released earlier.

Skins Impact – Free Agency Restrictions in 2007

Only two prominent Redskin players will qualify to be RFA's in 2007 under the final league year rules after having more than 3 years NFL experience – QB Patrick Ramsey and RB Ladell Betts.

This would allow the Skins to keep both through 2006 and not risk losing them to unrestricted free agency (which would happen if the CBA is extended).

Given the restrictions on player movements in the final league year of a CBA, both of these players could become quite valuable trade commodities in 2007 as teams search for talent in a restricted market.


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