On Monday I posted about the new contract that Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stevie Johnson received and warned against using the average per year of the total value of the contract as a measuring stick. I also warned that my projection of the first year cap hit and break down of the contract was a shot in the dark not knowing the full contract structure. Most times what is originally reported as guaranteed money is not always the case and it certainly was not in the case of the Johnson contract.
The early word was that the new contract was a five-year, $36.25 million deal with $19.5 million guaranteed. Pro Football Talk has the full breakdown this evening and you can see that the original report, along with my guess of the structure, was WAY off base. The contract included a first year guarantee of just $11 million, which is the 2012 base salary of $2.5 million plus the signing bonus of $8.5 million. The contract also includes a non-guaranteed 2013 option bonus of $4.5 million and a roster bonus of $1.75 million in 2014 and another roster bonus of $250,000 in 2015. He also has $100,000 workout bonus in 2012, which goes up to $275,000 in each of the final four seasons of the deal. His second year base salary of $2.55 million is guaranteed for injury only. Following along?
So basically as PFT points out, Johnson will receive $18.05 million guaranteed if he suffers a career-ending injury in 2012 or 2013. Otherwise only $11 million is fully guaranteed, really $11.1 million if he gets his workout bonus So instead of the $5.1 million cap hit I estimated on Tuesday, which again was very dangerous to do, his 2012 cap hit will be $4.3 million. Now all of a sudden you see how a reported $19.5 million guaranteed of a $36.25 million contract, was really just $11.1 million in guarantee with an option bonus. Now if you want to understand more about option bonuses and their pitfalls, I can point you to this old post from 2002 from the USA Today.
The Pittsburgh Steelers really do not like to structure with option bonuses from what I have seen, but instead like to use roster bonuses instead on bigger contracts as I pointed out in the post yesterday. In the case of wide receiver Mike Wallace, his agent Bus Cook will likely argue that the total guarantee amount of Johnson\’s contract is $18.05 million. Which in a way it kind of is and it isn\’t. That full $18.05 million amount is guaranteed in the case of career ending injury only. The Steelers would likely try to sign Wallace to a deal that includes a good portion of the bonus money as a roster bonus in the first and second year like they did with LaMarr Woodley and Lawrence Timmons instead of a full signing bonus.
It is always fun to see how teams choose to structure these things and what is really guaranteed and what really isn\’t. Now the only question is will they get a new deal done with Wallace before free agency starts and what will it look like if they do.