Hawkstorian & The Cap: Keepin' It Real

NET Cap Expert 'Hawkstorian' continues what we think is beneficial knowledge...Our cap situation. He tried to leave but we've decided just the right amount of light, bread and water will be enough to keep him tied up, er, make that tied to us...

Here's my first article since officially "resigning" as a writer for this fine website. I didn't really quit because I was unhappy or because I had anything better going on. I quit mainly because I ran out of things to explain to the world about how the salary cap works. I was also getting pretty frustrated with the "pursuit of contract knowledge" which mainly consists of sending e-mails to my source ("so, how about the D.D. Lewis deal?) to which the response comes ("sorry I haven't responded, I haven't checked my e-mail this month").

It's pretty sad that the average fan doesn't have access to what's really going on in the world of NFL contracts. It's also a little unfair that so many teams can claim they haven't been competitive because they're stuck in "cap hell", and yet the fans - and to a large extent the media - have no way to clearly evaluate the decision making that led up to "cap hell".

Supposedly we were in cap hell once, but I don't think we are now. Consider the following: The Seahawks were criticized in many corners for paying a huge contract to Grant Wistrom. Wistrom's deal counts somewhere around $3.8M towards our salary cap in 2004. Right now the Seahawks have around $4M in available cap. See the math? The Seahawks have enough cap room left over to pay out a whole other contract equal to the biggest contract they've ever paid!

And yet, unlike our baseball brethren the Mariners, Seahawks fans won't spend all year whining about how we didn't "Spend Enough Money" for two reasons. First, Seahawks fans don't whine like Mariner fans ("Edgar won't get into the hall of fame, whaaaa!"). And two, most Seahawks fan have no idea when dollars are left on the table, because the league does a fabulous job of keeping finances a big secret.

Speaking of secrets, the Marcus Tubbs rookie deal was reported only in summary as 5 years and $7.3 million. Reportedly, the deal contained "nearly five million" in bonus money. Agents like contracts to stay secretive so they can make outlandish statements that turn a $2 million signing bonus into 250% higher than it really is.

The truth of the Marcus Tubbs deal is he received a $2 million signing bonus, with a first year base salary of $230,000 and a "roster bonus" of $480,000. The roster bonus is really no different than current salary, but it allows the agent (and I'm not picking on Tubbs' agent here, because they all do it) to jack up the claims of bonus dollars paid. In year two, an "option bonus" is due of $2,320,000. If the Seahawks don't pay the option bonus, Tubbs's salaries escalate and become substantially guaranteed. The "two-tiered" bonus is the manner in which rookie deals are pumped up while still fitting into the rookie pool, which long ago dictated that Tubbs' deal would count as about $1.1M towards the 2004 salary cap.

So, thus ends my first post-retirement article. Since I can't really be counted on to write regularly, I'll gladly entertain questions at hawkstorian@yahoo.com or in the forums. My thanks as always to "adamjt13" for helping me and other fans gain brief glimpses into information the NFL and the NFLPA don't what you to see.

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