If you’re worried about what the contract signed Monday by Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton might mean for Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, you need not be worried at all.
Why do I say that? Because much like the contract that San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick recently signed, Roethlisberger is probably laughing at it.
For starters, Dalton only received a $12 million signing bonus as part of his new deal which runs through the 2020 season. While Dalton will earn a total of nearly $18 million in 2014, he’ll only pocket $25 million over the first two years unless he reaches play time and playoff driven escalators during either of those two seasons.
What are those escalators? For him, they will be tough to achieve, in my opinion.
If in any year he participates in 80-percent of the regular-season snaps and the Bengals get to the divisional round of the playoffs (via wild-card win or bye), he gets another $1 million in each additional year of the deal. If he qualifies at any point for the conference title game (with 80-percent playing time in the regular season), another $500,000 flows into the base value of the deal, for each additional year. If he wins a Super Bowl he won’t be driving off in a Hyundai; Dalton will get another $1.5 million per year for each remaining year of the deal.
Should Dalton fail to hit those escalators in any year, yet play out his entire contract, he will only earn roughly $96 million over seven seasons. If you are scoring at home, that’s an average of $13.714 per year. In order for him to hit the max value of the deal ($115 million), he must win the Super Bowl this season.
If you think that Roethlisberger gives two craps about Dalton’s deal, you’re fooling yourself. The new contract that the Steelers quarterback will likely sign next offseason isn’t likely to be tied to escalators like Dalton’s is. It will also include a lot more guaranteed money, as it should.
In case you might have forgotten, Roethlisberger has been to three Super Bowls and won two. He’s won 10 playoff games during his career while Dalton has yet to win one in three tries. If Dalton fails to win a playoff game over the course of the next two seasons, the Bengals can cut him after the 2015 season and actually save $5.9 million in cap space for 2016 by doing so. Dalton received a contract that he deserved. In order to max it out it, he needs to do this year what Roethlisberger has already done twice.