Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Jordon Dizon Signs and Other Transactions


Since July 23rd, the Lions have had several transactions.

  • Signed: Leon Joe (07/24/08), Jordon Dizon (07/25/08), Teddy Lehman (07/26/08), Eric Fowler (07/27/08), Eddie Johnson (07/30/08), Andy McCollum (07/31/08) and Nick Jones (07/31/08).
  • Claimed off Waivers: Taye Biddle (07/29/08)
  • Released: Jon Dunn (07/23/08), Alfred Fincher (07/26/08), Paul Ernster (07/29/08), Eric Fowler (07/30/08), Matt Butler (07/31/08) and Chris Patrick (07/31/08).
  • Place on Injured Reserve: Reggie Ball (07/27/08)
  • Extended: Leigh Bodden (07/25/08)

Jordon Dizon signed his contract on July 25th. Based on slotting, Dizon should make slightly less than Matt Forte's reported $3.7M contract and slightly more than the contract that Dewayne Jarrett (last years #45 overall pick) made. Based on the above and factoring in the way that Tom Lewand usually structures his contracts, I'd guesstimate Dizon's contract to be a four year, $3.6M contract that included a $1.4M signing bonus and a $495,000 one-time bonus with base salaries of $295,000 (2008), $385,000 (2009), $470,000 (2010), $555,000 (2011). Based on the above information and guesstimates, Dizon's 2008 Salary Cap Cost would be $645,000.

  • $350,000 SB Amortization ($1.4M over 4 years)
  • $295,000 Base Salary

Teddy Lehman and Leon Joe both have four accrued seasons in the NFL and both qualify for a minimum salary of $605,000. Neither player likely received a signing bonus and therefore their contracts would qualify for a veteran minimum treatment with the NFLPA subsidizing $160,000 of their contracts. Both Contracts would count $445,000 against the cap and neither contract would be part of the Top 51 player contracts and therefore neither contract would have an immediate effect on the Lions salary cap status.

  • $605,000 Base Salary
  • $(160,000) Subsidized by the NFLPA

Eric Fowler has zero accrued seasons in the NFL and qualifies for a minimum salary of $295,000. He signed his contract on 07/27/08 and was released on 07/30/08. His signing and subsequent release had no effect on the Lions salary cap status.

Eddie Johnson has one accrued season in the NFL and qualifies for a minimum salary of $370,000. His contract would not figure into the Lions Top 51 calculation.

Andy McCollum is a 13 year veteran and qualifies for a minimum salary of $830,000, assuming that his contract qualifies for vet minimum treatment, the NLFPA will pay $385,000 of his contract. McCollum's salary cap cost will be $445,000 and will currently not count against the Lion's salary cap.

Nick Jones hasn't accrued any seasons in the NFL and qualifies for a minimum contract of $295,000. His contract would not count against the Lions salary cap.

Taye Biddle has one accrued seasons in the NFL and was claimed off waivers. His contract includes base salaries of $370,000 (2008) and $460,000 (2009). His salary also will not effect the Lions current salary cap status.

Jon Dunn, Matt Butler and Chris Patrick were all scheduled to earn a base salary of $295,000. Their release has no effect on the Lions salary cap status.

Alfred Fincher was scheduled to earn a base salary of $520,000 and for Salary Cap purposes, was included in the calculation of the Lions Top 51 Contracts. His release will save the Lions about $65,000 against the salary cap.

Paul Ernster was scheduled to earn a base salary of $445,000 and for salary cap purposes, was not included in the calculation of the Lions Top 51 contracts. His release has no effect on the Lions salary cap status.

Reggie Ball was scheduled to earn $295,000 for the year. His contract likely included a split salary adjustment, which is basically an injury provision that allows for a lower base salary should the player end up on injured reserve. Ball has no accrued seasons in the NFL and his split salary adjustment will likely reduce his base pay for the season from $295,000 to $200,000. His contract is not part of the Lions' top 51 player contracts and at the current time, does not effect the Lions salary cap status.

Leigh Bodden signed an extension on July 25th, however, his salaries for 2010-2013 have not been updated in the NFLPA salary database. I'm not sure why his base salaries haven't been updated, it could be that the Lions organization have dragged their feet on submitting the contract to the NFL Management Council and consequently, it hasn't been forwarded to the NFLPA or the NFL Management Council is still reviewing the contract. If we assume that Bodden received the reported $2M signing bonus and has either an option bonus or a roster bonus (I've seen it reported both ways) due next March in the amount of $8.6M and the contract for 2008 and 2009 remains unchanged, Bodden would count $3,033,333 against the salary cap.

  • $1,700,000 Base Salary
  • $333,333 Renegotiation Bonus ($2M over six years)
  • $500,000 Roster Bonus
  • $500,000 LTBE bonus based on Interceptions and Playing Time

Updated Gosder Cherilus signed his contract on July 24th. Based on the information that I had at the time, I reported that he would count $1.4M against the cap. After obtaining additional information, I'd guesstimate his contract to include no signing bonus, a roster bonus of $985,000 payable at the start of training camp in 2008, a $1.85M one-time bonus based on 35% playing time and minimal team performance, an option bonus due in March of 2009 in the amount of $6,025,000 and base salaries of $295,000 (2008), $495,000 (2009), $745,000 (2010), $610,000 (2011) and $810,000 (2012). He's also likely due various workout and roster bonuses starting in 2010. Based on the above information and guesstimates, Cherilus would count $1,280,000 against the current years salary cap.

  • $295,000 Base Salary
  • $985,000 Roster Bonus

Based on the above information I'd estimate that the Lions are about $2.25M under the cap.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

PUP . . .Questions and Answers


What is PUP? - Physically Unable to Perform

Who is eligible? - All players are eligible to go on PUP at the start of training camp or before participating in any practices. Once you participate in practice, you are no longer eligible to be placed on PUP.

What are PUP players allowed to do? - They can participate in team meetings and rehab their injury, but they are forbidden from participating in team activities during practices.

Who did the Lions place on PUP? - Edwin Mulitalo, Daniel Bullocks, Dan Campbell and Shaun McDonald

What benefit is there from placing a player on PUP? - It's an insurance in case an injury lingers. When a player is injured at the start of season, a team has two options, they can place him on Injured Reserve and he's done for the season or they can have him sit on the sideline, while they wait for him to get healthy. If he was placed on PUP at the start of training camp, a team can continue to keep him on PUP until the sixth week of the season. This frees up another roster spot and with only 53 total roster spots during the season, it's important. After the sixth week of the season, the PUP player can practice with the team and a decision on whether to activate that player or keep him on Reserve/PUP has to be made by the 10th week of the season.

What have the Lions done in the past? - They faced that decision with Kevin Jones and DeVale Ellis last year. They elected to remove Kevin Jones from the PUP list at the start of the season and he was able to start playing during the third week of the season. DeVale Ellis practiced with the team after the sixth week, but the Lions elected to keep him on Reserve/PUP for the remainder of the season.

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Rookies Signed


On Tuesday, July 23rd, the Lions agreed to terms with six of their draft picks, Kevin Smith, Andre Fluellen, Kenneth Moore, Jerome Felton, Landon Cohen and Caleb Campbell. On the 24th, Gosder Cherilus agreed to terms with the Lions. The amounts below used to calculate the salary cap costs are from Adam Caplan's and Nate Caminata's reports on RoarReport.com.

Kevin Smith - Smith signed a three year contract that included a signing bonus of just under $650,000 and base salaries of $295,000 (2008), $385,000 (2009) and $470,000 (2010). Assuming a SB of $649,800, Smith's 2008 Salary Cap cost would be $511,000.
  • $216,600 SB Amortization ($649,800 over 3 years)
  • $295,000 Base Salary

Andre Fluellen - Fluellen signed a three year contract that included a signing bonus of just over $511,000 and base salaries of $295,000 (2008), $385,000 (2009) and $470,000 (2010). Assuming a SB of $511,200, Fluellen's 2008 Salary Cap cost would be $465,400.

  • $170,400 SB Amortization ($511,200 over 3 years)
  • $295,000 Base Salary

Jerome Felton - Felton signed a three year contract that included a signing bonus of just over $136,000 and base salaries of $295,000 (2008), $385,000 (2009) and $470,000 (2010). Assuming a SB of $136,200, Felton's 2008 Salary Cap cost would be $340,400.

  • $45,400 SB Amortization ($136,200 over 3 years)
  • $295,000 Base Salary

Landon Cohen - Cohen signed a three year contract that included a signing bonus of just under $44,000 and base salaries of $295,000 (2008), $385,000 (2009) and $470,000 (2010). Assuming a SB of $43,800, Cohen's 2008 Salary Cap cost would be $309,600.

  • $14,600 SB Amortization ($43,800 over 3 years)
  • $295,000 Base Salary

Kenneth Moore - Moore signed a three year contract that included base salaries of $295,000 (2008), $385,000 (2009) and $470,000 (2010). Assuming a SB of $381,000, Moore's 2008 Salary Cap cost would be $422,000.

  • $127,000 SB Amortization ($381,000 over 3 years)
  • $295,000 Base Salary

Caleb Campbell - Unfortunately, the Department of Defense changed their position on allowing Campbell to fulfill his military obligations in an alternative manner. Campbell had agreed to a contract, but since he was ordered to return to West Point to serve as an assistant, he didn't sign the contract. As a result, the Lions will retain his rights until next April's draft. If the Lions don't sign Campbell to a contract before then, he will reenter the draft. My guess is that next March, the Lions will talk to Campbell and see what he wants and/or what he is allowed to do and at that time, they may offer him another contract similar to the one that he had agreed to a few days ago.

Gosder Cherilus - Cherilus signed a five year, $12.5M contract that guarantees him $8.86M with a maximum value of $15M. He'll receive base salaries of $295,000 (2008), $1,600,000 (2009), $1,920,000 (2010), $2,240,000 (2011) and $855,000 (2012). Based on the above information and what the Lions have done in the past, I'm going to guesstimate his contract to include a $500,000 Signing Bonus, $1,005,000 Roster Bonus payable at the start of training camp, $950,000 one-time bonus, that I discussed in a prior blog entry and a $3,000,000 option bonus/salary advance due and payable in early 2009. Based on the above information and guesstimates, Cherilus' 2008 Salary Cap Cost would be $1,400,000.

  • $1,005,000 Roster Bonus
  • $100,000 SB Amortization ($500,000 over 5 years)
  • $295,000 Base Salary

Jordon Dizon - He is the only remaining unsigned draft pick. Earlier this week, Tom Lewand reported to the media, that they were close, but earlier today, Tom Kowalski reported that a deal isn't imminent. The Lions have always been fair with their contract offers and as a result, usually get all of their 2nd round or later draft picks in camp on time. Dizon is the only one that I can recall in recent years that hasn't made it in on time. My guess is that the outstanding drunk driving charge against Dizon is playing a negative role in the negotiations. I believe that the Lions are offering a contract below the slotting that typically takes place with rookie draft picks or are offering a contract in which less money is paid up front. Dizon was drafted 45th overall, Drew Stanton was drafted 43rd overall in last years draft. The contract that Dizon should receive, based on slotting, should be similar to what Stanton received, maybe slightly less because Stanton is a QB and QB's usually receive a higher contract than other draft picks. Stanton received a four year, $3.9M contract with $2.85M guaranteed.

Based on the above information and before adjusting for Leigh Bodden's extension, I show the Lions about $2.6M under the cap.

Monday, July 21, 2008

One of the Reasons for the Holdup on Rookie Signings


According to John Clayton of espn.com, the NFLPA won it's special master grievance against the NFL management council. The grievance had to do with how "one-time bonuses" are counted against the salary cap. Why it's a problem, is a little complicated, but I'll explain what I understand about the bonus.

How a "One-time bonus" works. A player's agent has negotiated into his contract a bonus that is payable if he plays in 35% of the plays that is also only payable if the team does something, i.e. wins 3 games, finishes with 3,500 yards of total offense, etc . . .basically something that is easily attainable. For salary cap purposes, since it's a bonus that is based on a team performance and requires at least 35% playing time, the bonus is considered, non-likely to be earned (NLTBE). This is beneficial for the team giving the bonus, because the bonus isn't counted in the rookie year and only counts against the cap when NLTBE bonuses are reconciled against likely to be earned bonuses at the end of the year. Calvin Johnson had this type of bonus and I discussed it in a prior entry.

It's referred to as a "One-time" bonus because, if it's not earned in the initial year, it's available in the 2nd year, if it's not earned in either of the first two seasons, it's available to be earned in the 3rd season. In the final year of the contract, if it hasn't been previously earned, it's automatically payable no matter what. Because this "One-time" bonus is going to be earned at one point or another, it is considered a guaranteed bonus. Also, once it's earned, it voids in all subsequent seasons. If a player earns the bonus in the first season of his contract, the bonus is void in all subsequent years, hence the "One-time" bonus reference.

One aspect of this bonus is that it is guaranteed, even though when it's actually paid can vary. Typically, it's not a problem, it's just a guaranteed payment that is guaranteed to be paid by the final year of the contract. However, on May 20th, the owners elected to opt out of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) and by doing this, it created a problem with this type of bonus. After the owners made the election to opt out, the final year of the CBA accelerated to 2010. First round picks usually sign either a five or six year contract, which for this years rookie class will extend through the 2012 or 2013 season. The 2nd round draft picks usually sign four year contracts and those contracts will extend beyond the CBA into the 2011 season. So, by using this type of bonus, it guarantees a payment after the scope of the current CBA. According to the CBA, guaranteed payments due and payable after the CBA expires, are for salary cap purposes, supposed to be reallocated to capped years within the CBA (much the same way that Deion charges are allocated). This would increase the salary cap charges in the current years and also increase the "rookie cap".

The NFL management council contended that these bonuses needed to be reallocated to capped years and the NFLPA said that nothing needed to be done with these bonuses. The ruling came in favor of the NFLPA. Now that the Teams and Agents know how these bonuses will be treated for salary cap purposes, you will see more rookies signed.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

Player Rumors and Drafted Rookies Update


Early last week, the Tampa Bay Tribune reported that the Lions are interested in Chris Simms. The NFL Network has reported that the Lions may be interested in Takeo Spikes and various media outlets have reported that Daunte Culpepper (acting as his own agent) has contacted the Lions offering his services.

Chris Simms - I don't doubt that the Lions have inquired about Chris Simms. Any team that potentially could use a quarterback, should inquire. The Lions currently have an aging veteran in Jon Kitna, a four-year jouneyman that has attempted 17 career passes in Dan Orlovsky and basically a rookie in Drew Stanton as last season, he was placed on injured reserve at the start of training camp. There are several good reasons for the Lions to consider a veteran QB and with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers having five on their current roster (four if you don't count Jake Plummer), they are looking to trade one before they have to cut someone before the start of the season and all the rumors have pointed to Chris Simms being the odd man out. Rod Marinelli was coaching the defensive line in Tampa for 3 seasons while Simms was there and we all know how Rod likes to sign players that he's familiar with. In many ways it does make sense for the Lions to pursue Simms, but my guess is that the Lions were just doing their "due diligence" in inquiring about Simms. Simms' $2M base salary is in line with what veteran backup QB's make, but if the Lions were to trade for Simms, they would have to free up $1.5M in cap space. I doubt that a trade is in the works, but I think the Lions would consider signing him if he were cut.

Takeo Spikes - The former pro bowl linebacker is an aging linebacker that could help the Lions as they try to get Jordan Dizon acclimated to the NFL. Spikes made $4.5M last year, but I don't think it'll cost that much to sign him as he was released by the Eagles at the start of free agency and hasn't landed a job yet. Considering his age, prior salary and the lack of a job, my guess is that it would cost somewhere between $1.5M and $2.5M to land Spikes. Once again, the Lions would have to free up some salary cap space if they were to sign him and if they are going to sign him, it'll likely be done before the end of the week.

Daunte Culpepper - Is his own agent and is looking for a job for the season. I think that his better days are well behind him and he won't be playing football this year. He negotiated a contract in which (I believe) he robbed the Raiders. Just by signing the contract, he was guaranteed $750K. Once he made the opening roster, he was guaranteed $2.6M and once he was on the team after the sixth game, he was guaranteed $3.2M for the season. I think he's looking for a similar contract this year and he's not going to get it. He's already turned down $1M contract from the Packers. I don't see any chance that the Lions sign Culpepper.

Our Rookie Draft Picks - The Lions have never signed their rookies early, but it's odd that they have only officially signed one draft pick, Cliff Avril. My guess is that they have basically agreed to the money that will be paid to all the rookies drafted in the third round or later, but are holding up the contracts to see how they want to recognize the money for salary cap purposes. Jordan Dizon's contract is likely very close to being finalized as well. Gosder Cherilus' contract will allow the most flexibility to manipulate the salary cap and if needed, could be manipulated to keep salary cap space free for a player like Takeo Spikes. If needed, Jason Hanson's contract could be extended to free up salary cap space or Cory Redding contract could be restructured to free up salary cap space.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Franchise Player Deadline

Back in February of this year, 12 players received the franchise tag designation, 11 of which received the non-exclusive franchise tag. The deadline for these players to sign long-term contracts is today (July 15th). Any player that hasn't signed a long-term contract by today, can only sign a one-year contract.

Of the 12 players that received the franchise tag, two were traded and received long-term contracts from their new teams, Jared Allen - Vikings and Corey Williams - Browns. Two have signed long-term contracts with their 2007 team, Marcus Trufant - Seahawks and Dallas Clark - Colts. The other eight players face the July 15th deadline.

All eight of these players have until the end of today (July 15th) to sign a long-term contract. If they haven't signed a long-term contract by the end of today, they may only sign a one-year contract.

Nnamdi Asomugha was the only player that received the exclusive franchise tag. He has not signed his franchise tag tender yet, does not have the option to sign with another team and may only negotiate with the Oakland Raiders.

Players who receive the non-exclusive franchise tag designation are allowed to negotiate a contract with other teams, but if they sign a contract with another team, their former team has the option to match that contract and retain their rights or they can receive two first round draft picks as compensation from the new team. Of the seven remaining players, four have already signed their franchise tag tender Karlos Dansby, Jordan Gross, Stacy Anderews and LJ Smith. The other three (Terrell Suggs, Ken Hamlin and Albert Haynesworth) have yet to sign the franchise tag or a long-term contract.

Over the past two years, the Lions were facing this deadline with Cory Redding (2007) and Jeff Backus (2006). There is also a strong possibility that they will could face this deadline in 2009 with Roy Williams next year.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Cliff Avril Signs


Cliff Avril

The Lions have signed their first rookie draft pick. According to Adam Caplan of RoarReport.com, on July 11th, Cliff Avril signed a 3 year contract that included a $484,000 signing bonus. His base salaries are $295,000 (2008), $385,000 (2009) and $470,000 (2010). His current year salary cap cost is $456,333 ($484,000 SB/3 years plus $295,000 Base Salary). As I've noted in the past, only the top 51 player contract count toward the cap until the first day of the season. Before Avril signed, the 51st highest Lions player contract counted $451,720 against the cap. Therefore, the current impact of Avril's contract reduces the Lions salary cap status by $4,500. The Lions are currently $3.9M under the cap.

Friday, July 4, 2008

June Transactions


The months of May and June are a fairly boring time of year for the NFL. The Draft has concluded and teams are just beginning to sign their draft picks and it's no different for the Lions. They do, however, have a very good track record of getting their rookie draft picks signed before the start of training camp. Over the last three years, only one rookie wasn't signed before the start of training camp, Calvin Johnson. He missed one or two days last year, but that was only because he had a very complicated contract that needed to be written and once it was done, he was at camp. 75% of drafted rookies don't sign a contract until after July 4th. The start of training camp is at the end of July and there is nothing that can be gained by signing rookies at the end of June/early July that they'd lose if they were to sign the week before training camp.

Over the past month the Lions have released seven players and placed one player on injured reserve. This freed up eight roster spots and the Lions will need one more spot before they can officially sign all of the rookie draft picks. On June 17th, the Lions released Darrell Blackman, Justin Sanders and Ronyell Whitaker. On June 23rd, Allen Ervin, Greg Lee, Jonathan Lewis and Buck Reed were released. On the 24th of June, Shemiah Legrande was placed on Injured Reserve and is officially done for the season. None of these transactions had an impact on the Lions salary cap status.