Tuesday, February 27, 2007

To Restructure or Not to Restructure - That is the Question

This is a discussion of the concept of restructuring player contracts in the NFL. Ideally, this should not have to happen, but it is a reality of the current bargaining that goes on between players and teams. Normally, when a team 'has' to restructure a deal, like the 4skins, its usually the result of poor cap management.

Here is how restructuring works:
The team takes some sort of non-signing bonus salary (base salary and roster bonuses being the most common) and CONVERTS a portion ( of it into a signing bonus. This essentially provides the player with the same amount of cash, but allows the team to pro-rate the converted amount over the rest of the players contract (up to a maximum of 5 years I believe).

This happens around the league - most notably this year with the Colts and Peyton Manning who was due a $10 million dollar roster bonus but "restructured the deal." As a result, that 10 million was turned into a signing bonus. Peyton got his money, but the Colts can spread out the hit over the next 5 years of his contract (2 million per year). He didn't "save" them any money, he simply allowed Indianapolis to "create" 8 million in salary cap space for the 2007 season, because the remaining 8 million will get accounted for in 2 million dollar chunks from 2008-2011. Roster bonuses are designed to do just that. They create potential flexibility by giving teams a choice. Pay now or pay later.

Consider the Eagles
. They chose to write in nearly $21 million in roster bonuses when they extended the contracts on a wave of key young players, including OGs Shawn Andrews (2 mill) and Todd Herremans (1.8 mill), DT Mike Patterson (4.5 mill), DE Trent Cole (6 mill) and WR Reggie Brown (5 mill).

The Eagles structured many of the extensions last year in a way that deliberately chewed up a lot (but not all) of their 2007 cap space... The reason? Think about it, fewer and fewer quality players are hitting the open market, which leads teams to splurge on so-so guys (Brandon Lloyd anyone)...the way to build a consistent contender is via the draft, retaining your own guys, and making judicious decision in free agency....and yes you really DO have to make the right decision on which player you extend and all that...but that is the route the Eagles have taken consistently during AR tenure.

Lots of folks have wondered aloud "Why McNabb and Kearse won't//aren't asked to restructure "for the good of the team" or so that we can keep more of our own players...

Using Donovan as an example: McNabb is due $5.5 million in base salary and this years pro-rated Signing bonus amount is $3.3 mill...nothing can be done about the SB, its there...., but lets make this easy on the math and just say the Birds reduced his base salary to 1.5 mill and converted $4 mill into a signing bonus - which would spread out over next 4 years (assuming he's signed thru 2010, if he's signed longer, then we could do 5 years - 800,000 per. )
So his base salary would be 1.5 mil and he'd get 4.3 mill SB. His total Cap Hit for 2007 would be $5.8 million instead of $8.8 - so we'd save 3 million but at a future cost, because in 2008 his base salary will go up again and he'll have even more of SB due...

Jevon Kearse has a base salary of 5.2 million...so in theory the Eagles probably would be able to save a similar amount...HOWEVER, Kearse, like McNabb also has 6 mill in signing bonus left on his contract. By adding to it, it would him that much harder to cut in the future....

Restructuring contract is a child of the salary cap, and the reason you cannot remember very many Eagles players restructuring contracts is because they DON'T HAVE TO, thanks to Joe Banner...Sometimes the Front Office's decisions work out (Letting Simon go, letting Douglas go, signing Runyan, re-signing Trotter (after letting him go)) and sometimes they don't work out so well - Letting Burgess go and counting of Jerome McWaste-of-Time and then Howard...

but overall the Eagles are on the plus side the ledger when it comes to personnel decisions...
Thus endeth the rant

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