Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Moore and Orlovsky Sign Tenders

7:25am EDT

Dan Orlovsky and Langston Moore officially signed their restricted free agent tenders. Both were given a general tender and both are scheduled to make $927,000 for the 2008 season. Just like with the other RFA's, their tenders were included in the Lion's cap commitments at the start of free agency and their official signing has no salary cap effect.

Current Cap Status - $670,000 under the cap.

Friday, April 18, 2008


04:20 EDT

Over the past couple of weeks, the Lions made several transactions, none of which effected the salary cap much.

Stanley Wilson - Wilson was a Restricted Free Agent (RFA) and before the year began, the Lions offered him a general tender of $927,000. The amount of RFA tenders are counted against the cap at the start of the league year. So, when Wilson officially signed his tender on April 8th, it had no effect on the Lions cap status. His current year cap cost is $927,000.

LaMarcus Hicks - Hicks is entering his second year and signed on April 8th for the league minimum. His salary is not included in the Top 51 and does not effect the Lions current cap status. Current year cap cost is $370,000.

Paul Ernster - Ernster is entering his third year and signed on April 10th for the league minimum. His salary is not included in the top 51 and does not effect the Lions current cap status. Current year cap cost is $445,000.

Stephen Peterman - Just like Wilson, Peterman was a RFA and was offered a general tender of $927,000. He officially signed the tender on April 17th. His current year cap cost is $927,000.

Patrick Body - Was released on April 8th. His base salary of 445,000 was not included in the Lions cap cost. There was no cap savings from releasing Body.

John Deraney - Deraney was released on April 14th. In an earlier blog entry, I suggested that it was odd that they kept Deraney on the roster as long as they did and that no injury settlement was reached. I stand by the fact that I find it odd, but nothing more came of it. Deraney signed a 3 year contract in May of 2007 in which he received a $5,000 signing bonus and was due a base salary of $370,000 in 2008. The Lions have dead cap from releasing Deraney in the amount of $3,334.

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Restricted Free Agency

9:15 EDT

Restricted Free Agency will come to a close this Friday, April 19th. RFA's have until this Friday to negotiate a player contract with another team. If they fail to do so, their rights remain with their current club. Below is a Q&A about RFA.

Who is eligible for Restricted Free Agency? - When the salary cap is in effect, anyone with three accrued seasons in the NFL and has a contract set to expire on the last day of the league year (end of February).

What is an accrued season? - A player earns an accrued season when he is on the Active, Inactive or Injured Reserve list for six regular season games.

If a player is eligible for Restricted Free Agency, does he automatically become a RFA? - No, he must receive a "tender" from a team that owns his rights.

What is a "Tender"? - A tender is a one-year contract offer from the club that owns a players rights.

How much is the Tender? - For 2008 league year, there are four tender levels for Restricted Free Agents, as follow:

  • 1st & 3rd Round Tender - $2,562,000
  • 1st Round Tender - $2,017,000
  • 2nd Round Tender - $1,417,000
  • General Tender - $927,000

What happens after a RFA receives his tender? - A player has two options:

  • He may sign the tender and if he survives final cuts, he'll be due the salary assigned to the tender. However, none of the salary is guaranteed and he could be cut on the final day of camp and not make anything.
  • He can attempt to negotiate a player contract with another team.

What happens if he negotiates a contract with another team? - The new team and the RFA would sign an offer sheet that contains the principle terms of a pending contract (Number of years, Guaranteed Money, Signing Bonus, Roster Bonuses, Base Salary, etc). The player would then submit the offer sheet to his prior club, who would have 7 days to decide if they want to match the offer sheet or decline and receive any draft choice compensation that is attached to the tender.

What draft choice compensation is attached to the tender?

  • 1st & 3rd round tender - 1st & 3rd round draft choice compensation
  • 1st round tender - 1st round draft choice compensation
  • 2nd round tender - 2nd round draft choice compensation
  • General tender - draft choice compensation equal to the round in which the RFA was originally drafted. An undrafted player would have no draft choice compensation.

Who are the Lion's RFA's? - Stanley Wilson has already signed his general tender and is scheduled to make $927,000 next season. As of Today, the Lions still have 3 players who haven't signed their tender yet.

  • Langston Moore - General Tender with 6th round draft compensation
  • Dan Orlovsky - General Tender with 5th round draft compensation
  • Stephen Peterman - General Tender with 3rd round draft compensation

Will the Lions sign any RFA's? - The Lions did sign one restricted free agent, Kalvin Pearson. Pearson received a general tender and was originally an undrafted rookie free agent and, therefore, the Lions didn't lose any draft picks. At this time, I don't think the Lions will pursue any other RFA's. If they do, they'd probably look at defensive line or linebacker, where there are a few remaining RFA's.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Dead Cap

7:55 EDT

Tom Kowalski of Mlive.com wrote an article about the Lions 2008 "Dead Cap". The article is well written and accurate.

What is Dead Cap? - Dead Cap is having salary cap space used by players who are no longer under contract.

How does that happen? - Most NFL player contracts are not guaranteed and therefore a team can cut a player at any time and not pay the remaining terms of the contract.

If you don't have to pay the remaining contract, how does a team acquire dead cap? - It is attributable to signing bonuses and other items treated as signing bonus, that, for salary cap purposes are prorated over the life of a players contract. For more information on these bonuses, refer to my blog entry, that explains these items. If a player is cut in the 4th year of a five year contract, there is "dead cap" for the unamortized portion of the signing bonus.

Why do the Lions have so much Dead Cap? - When Rod Marinelli took over the Lions in January of 2006, there were about 70 players under contract, the 53 active members of the roster, some players that were on IR and some players signed in early January. Of those 70 or so players, only 14 remain under contract and it's expensive to revamp an entire roster like the Lions have done over the past two years.

Kowalski's list of the Lions 2008 Dead Cap totals $15,192,000 (Plus another $2M of Dead Cap in 2009 for Kalimba Edwards) and based on history, we'll have another $1,100,000 from the normal course of business (injury settlements, workout bonuses, etc):

  • 4,271,000 Shaun Rogers
  • 3,000,000 Damien Woody
  • 2,333,000 Fernando Bryant
  • 1,360,000 Kenoy Kennedy
  • 1,000,000 Kalimba Edwards (Plus another $2M to be recognized in 2009)
  • 1,000,000 Eddie Drummond
  • 741,000 Kevin Jones
  • 500,000 Shawn Bryson
  • 333,000 Rex Tucker
  • 240,000 AJ Davis
  • 180,000 Barry Stokes
  • 150,000 Blaine Saipaia
  • 84,000 Johnny Baldwin

Here's a list of the Lions 2007 Dead Cap that totaled $20,056,000:

  • 5,448,000 Mike Williams
  • 3,275,000 Charles Rogers
  • 1,760,000 Ross Verba
  • 1,600,000 James Hall
  • 1,500,000 Corey Bradford
  • 1,300,000 Dre Bly
  • 1,000,000 Josh McCown
  • 767,000 Marcus Pollard
  • 530,000 Eddie Drummond
  • 500,000 Shawn Bryson
  • 383,000 Rex Tucker
  • 333,000 Marcus Bell
  • 275,000 Donte Curry
  • 185,000 Barry Stokes
  • 120,000 AJ Davis
  • 1,080,000 Miscellaneous others (Injury settlements and workout bonuses)

In 2006, the Lions had almost $13,889,000 in Dead Cap:

  • 7,088,000 Joey Harrington
  • 3,340,000 Charles Rogers
  • 1,350,000 Cory Bradford
  • 469,000 LeVar Woods
  • 375,000 Dan Wilkinson
  • 167,000 David Loverne
  • 1,100,000 Miscellaneous others (Injury Settlements and workout bonuses)

Since Rod Marinelli has been here, he's cleaned up the roster, but that cleaning has had consequences, to the tune of over $52M of Dead Cap, almost 16% of the salary cap space for that time period. The salary cap for the time frame has been a total of $327,727,000 (102M in 2006, 109M in 2007 and 116,727,000 in 2008).

Failed first round draft picks have accounted for $19,151,000, pre-Rod Marinelli:

  • 7,088,000 Joey Harrington
  • 6,615,000 Charles Rogers
  • 5,448,000 Mike Williams

We've gotten some value for some of the players:

  • $4,271,000 Shaun Rogers (for L. Bodden and a 3rd rounder in 2008)
  • $1,600,000 James Hall (5th round draft pick in 2007)
  • $1,300,000 Dre Bly (acquired G. Foster, T. Bell and a 5th rounder)
  • $1,000,000 Josh McCown (for a 4th rounder in 2007 from Oak, along with M. Williams)

As I posted in an earlier blog entry, 2009 Cap Outlook, we are in good shape for 2009 with realistic cap commitments of $78M with a projected salary cap in the neighborhood of $120M (42M under). Dead Cap should be less of an issue going forward, this is Marinelli's roster now and there shouldn't be much of turnover in 2009.

Saturday, April 5, 2008

Pat Kirwan and Updated Brian Kelly Cost

7:50am EDT

Pat Kirwan is one of my favorite national media writers. He is one of the few that I religiously read almost everything that he writes. He uses his prior experience in the NY Jets front office to provide great offseason analysis and draws on his prior coaching experience and scouting background to provide in depth analysis of draft prospects and the regular season.

Yesterday, he wrote an article, Spring cleaning NFL-style means trimming cap space, in it he addresses teams that are tight against the salary cap and confirms that the Lions are extremely tight against the cap, $668,000 under. I currently had the Lions at $990,000 under the cap, but have updated Brian Kelly's cap cost (see below) to agree with Kirwan's report. A couple of items that he addresses with the Lions, need to be expounded upon.

Kalimba Edwards - As I noted in an earlier blog entry, Edwards was designated as a June 1 release and consequently, we will receive an additional $4,000,000 of cap space on June 1, when he is officially off the books. So, yes we are tight against the cap right now, but there is relief on the horizon and Edwards cap space will be used for the bulk of the rookie draft pick costs.

Dominic Raiola - With a base salary of $3.4M and a current year cap cost of $4.4M, Raiola is a candidate to be renegotiated. However, Raiola is signed through the 2009 season and it's generally been the practice of the Lions to negotiate extension of player contracts in the final year of their contract. Raiola could be renegotiated and extended, but I think it's unlikely. I believe the Lions will address Raiola's contract near the end of this year or next year.

Calvin Johnson - Kirwan also mentions that Johnson may be a candidate for a restructure, but according to the CBA agreement, Article XVII Entering Player Pool, Section 4(i) states:

  • The Player Contract of a Rookie may not be renegotiated until after his Club’s final game of the second NFL season following the signing of such Player Contract.

Therefore, Calvin Johnson's contract cannot be renegotiated until after the final game of this season, at the earliest.

Jason Hanson - Hanson is in the final year of his contract and is due a base salary of $1,650,000. Even at 38, Hanson likely has another 10 years left in him (if he so chooses). He is a definite candidate to be extended, with an extension reducing his 2008 salary cap cost. The odd thing, for me is . . . John Deraney. Deraney has been on the Lions roster since last May and I believe worked out mostly as a punter, even though at NC State, he served as both the teams' kicker and punter. When he went on IR last August and no injury settlement was reached (common for camp fodder that get injured), I thought that maybe Nick Harris' job was in jeopardy, but the Lions gave Harris a 5 year extension last September, so obviously Harris' job is safe. Could Hanson be a draft day trade to a Super Bowl contender on draft day? We all know how important a kicker can be in the playoffs and Hanson would be an immediate upgrade on almost any team out there. Could Deraney be in the Lions future plans at kicker? I find it hard to believe, he was a good college kicker, but far from stellar, but nonetheless, it just seems odd to me.

Brian Kelly - Initially, because financial details were not disclosed on Kelly's contract, I had to make an educated guess on what Kelly's current year cap cost might have been. Based on the information from Kirwan, I'm going to change his estimated signing bonus from $3M to $4M and his updated current year cap cost would be $2,590,053.

  • 1,333,333 signing bonus proration ($4M over 3 years)
  • 1,250,000 base salary
  • 6,720 workout bonus

Current year cap status, $668,000 under the cap.

Friday, April 4, 2008

Yearly Compensation Amounts

7:50am EDT

In an earlier blog entry about signing bonuses, I outlined items that would be prorated over the life of the contract. Below are some common compensation terms that, for salary cap purposes, are considered a period cost and are included immediately in a players current year cap cost.

Base Salary - This is the salary that is outlined in paragraph 5 of a player contract. It is the amount of money that a player will receive for being on the active/inactive/reserve roster on game day. Veterans with four accrued seasons and are on the active/inactive roster on the the 1st regular season game, are guaranteed their entire base salary.

Non-guaranteed Roster bonuses - Are payable to a player for being on the roster at a specific time of the year. Unless the bonus is guaranteed, it is included in the player's salary cap cost in the year that it is earned.

Non-guaranteed Reporting bonuses - Are bonuses payable to a player for reporting to training camp on time. Unless the bonus is guaranteed, it is included in the player's salary cap cost in the year that it is earned.

Non-guaranteed Workout Bonuses - Are bonuses that are payable for participation in the teams Off-season workout program, which is a 4 day per week, 14 week program. The minimum workout bonus for any player is $130 per day. Players that receive a workout bonus that is in excess of the league minimum have the amount included in their player's salary cap cost immediately. For players that don't have a workout bonus stipulated in their contract, the entire cost of the program is included in their player's salary cap cost when they start the program. The cost would be $6,720 for any player that begins the workout program at the start (March 17th).

Incentive bonuses - Are incentives that a player will receive based on meeting certain performance barriers. These types of bonuses can be based on any of a multitude of things including both individual statistics and team statistics. Some of the more popular are pro bowl selection, passing yards, receiving yards, rushing yards, playing time, tackles, interceptions, turnovers, team wins, team playoffs, team offensive efficiency, team defensive efficiency. These types of bonuses are classified into two types, Likely to be earned (LTBE) and Non-likely to be earned (NLTBE), and are reconciled at the end of the league year and included in the cap adjustment amount for each team. The Lions had a negative cap adjustment amount from last year and I discussed it in two earlier blogs, March 2nd and March 1st.

  • Likely to be earned incentives - the criteria for whether a bonus is a LTBE or NLTBE is generally whether the barrier was met in the preceding season. i.e. if Jon Kitna has an incentive bonus that will pay him $500,000 for passing for 4000 yards in 2008, then since he passed for 4000 yards in 2007, it would be considered likely to be earned in 2008. LTBE incentives are included in a player's cost in the year that they would be earned.
  • Non-likely to be earned incentive - If Jon Kitna has an incentive bonus in his contract that will pay him $500,000 for passing for 4500 yards in 2008, then since he passed for less than 4500 yards in 2007, that bonus would be considered a NLTBE incentive.
    At the end of the league year, the league offices and the management council reconcile all the LTBE bonuses with the NLTBE bonuses and submit either a credit or a charge in the next season.

Escalators - Are potential increases in a players compensation, based on meeting certain criteria. They can be based on any of a number of things, including the items that I listed above under incentive contracts. What happens when a player reaches these thresholds is that his base salary is increased in a following season. Just like with LTBE incentives and NLTBE incentives, they are reconciled at the end of the league year, however, they are not part of the Cap Adjustment amount. They would actually increase a players salary cap cost for a given season.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Compensatory Picks Released

5:30am EDT

And the Lions got . . .none. This wasn't a surprise. Compensatory picks are awarded to teams that lose more Unrestricted Free Agents (UFA) than they gain, with an emphasis put on the Average per Year (APY) value of the contract that was signed and additional consideration given to playing time. An UFA is a player whose contract has expired or who voided his contract. Last year during the unrestricted free agency period, we had:

The following significant roster acquisitions:

  • Dewayne White - 5.8M APY
  • TJ Duckett - 1.6M APY
  • Shaun McDonald - 1.4M APY
  • Edwin Mulitalo - Released by the Ravens, doesn't qualify
  • George Foster - Traded for, doesn't qualify
  • Tatum Bell - Traded for, doesn't qualify

Significant roster losses:

  • Terrance Holt - 3M APY
  • Jamar Fletcher - 1.125M APY
  • Dre' Bly - Traded away, doesn't qualify
  • James Hall - Traded away, doesn't qualify
  • Marcus Pollard - Released, doesn't qualify
  • Ross Verba - Released, doesn't qualify
  • Marcus Bell - Released, doesn't qualify

2009 compensatory draft picks might be a little different. We only signed a few unrestricted free agents, but had more significant unrestricted free agent losses than we've had in previous years.

Significant Roster Additions:

  • Dwight Smith - Cut by Vikings, does not qualify
  • Leigh Bodden - Traded for, does not qualify
  • Kalvin Pearson - designated as a restricted free agent, does not qualify
  • Corey Hulsey - insignificant
  • Alfred Fincher - insignificant
  • Gilbert Gardner - insignificant
  • Michael Gaines - Signed a 4 year 10M contract (2.5M APY)
  • Chuck Darby - Signed a 3 year 4.7M contract (1.55M APY)
  • Brian Kelly - Signed a 3 year 9M contract (3M APY)

Significant Roster Losses:

  • Shaun Rogers -Traded, does not qualify
  • Fernando Bryant - Released, does not qualify
  • Kalimba Edwards - Released, does not qualify
  • Kenoy Kennedy - Released, does not qualify
  • Kevin Jones - Released, does not qualify
  • TJ Duckett - Signed a 5 year 13.1M contract (2.6M APY)
  • Boss Bailey - Signed a 5 year 17.5M contract (3.5M APY)
  • Damien Woody - Signed a 5 year 25.5M contract (5.1M APY)
  • Teddy Lehman - Signed a 1 year 1.2M contract with another 500K in incentives

Financial details of Brian Kelly's contract were not released, so I'm making an educated guess on what he may have signed for. I'm also not 100% sure that he qualifies as an UFA. He paid back a percentage of his signing bonus to become a free agent this year. My guess is that he paid it back and Tampa Bay gave him the option to void his contract. If that's the case, he'd qualify as a UFA. If he paid back part of the bonus and they subsequently released him, he would not qualify as an UFA.

Playing time and any post season honors will effect the determination of compensatory picks, but initially, I think we may be looking at getting a 4th round compensatory pick for Damien Woody, provided that he's healthy and starts every or most games. Gaines and Duckett would offset each other, Darby and Lehman would offset each other and Kelly and Bailey would offset each other. If Kelly is not considered an UFA (I really think he is), we could get a 6th round pick for Boss, depending on playing time. I made these estimates based on information posted by AdamJT in his blog. He attempted to predict the compensatory picks for all teams and he came pretty close. His blog on compensatory picks is worth a read through if you have time.