NFL 2021: Week Five Easy Pieces

In some news, WR Calvin Ridley is not travelling with the team to London due to a “personal matter”. Last week, RT Lane Johnson skipped the Eagles game against the Chiefs due to a “personal matte”. A couple weeks ago, Will Fuller missed a practice with a “personal matter” too.

Don’t misunderstand me, I think it’s great NFL teams are more aware of mental health issues. And I fully support destigmatizing it and allowing players to treat their mental health issues with the same vigor they do physical injuries. If these cases are to help players deal with their mental health, I’m all for it.

They are more than able to negotiate that kind of contract (and they do quite often) with players. But in the last couple decades, players have realized just how unfair it is to allow owners to unilaterally terminate a contract. So they started asking for guaranteed money to equalize the playing field and give them even a modicum of job security.

A contract could certainly say that. Other people get contracts for x number of years at Y rate of pay. If you want to get rid of those people, you have to pay them (exceptions apply).

But if you’ve signed a contract to work at that store through the end of the year, you cannot go to work for somebody else, right? Methinks the store owes you the money you would have earned had you kept working until your contract expired.

A few things about that.
Pete Carroll outcoaches everyone else getting his team ready for a short (Thursday) week.
If Seattle plays well, they can absolutely school everyone in the NFL. Witness Week 1 and the last 3/4 of Week 4. So are Weeks 2, 3 and first quarter of Week 4 the real Seahawks or the aberration?
Game will not be close. If you favor the Rams, get value and lay 9.5. If you favor the Seahawks, don’t just play the money line but lay some points.
Warning: not betting advice. just an idiot who acts like he knows what he’s talking about.

My first thought was Covid and trying to prevent the shaming for who think the vaccine is a ‘personal decision’

Hmmm. Yahoo fantasy football lists players’ covid status explicitly. The NFL is very much in bed with fantasy football and gambling in general. I would be surprised if they hid an injury by calling it a personal matter. In that context, I’m not sure if they would hide covid status.

Are there roster rules for covid status this season? Can they bring someone up from the practice squad to take their spot?

On the other hand, not all 53 guys dress every game anyway. I forget the limit; I think it’s in the 40s.

With all the games in London, there’s never been a game with two teams with winning records.

Of course, the Jags feature prominently and they’ve stunk for a long time. And other teams willing to give up the home game generally haven’t been good either.

Which also why you should ignore any contract announcements until you find out the guaranteed money. You’ll hear “So-and-so signed for 7 years, 1 billion dollars” but the guaranteed money is only 1 million for the first year.

The guaranteed money is usually the highlight of the announcement. The accepted assumption is that anything not guaranteed won’t be paid. Instead, they’ll restructure and there will be a new guaranteed amount to announce.

Burrow HAS been developing, and now has the benefit of an improved offensive line, and as you mentioned, the pretty awesome set of skill players in Boyd, Chase, Higgins and Mixon.

I think the defense is much better than you imply, and I expect us to get after Rodgers early and often as well as turn him over at least once. We aren’t giving up much on the ground to anyone, and the other offenses we’ve faced dink and dunked us by and large, which is why we’re ranked 7th.

Bates is back and will be patrolling and I fully expect him to intercept Rodgers. My biggest concern is being able to keep up on the scoreboard if it goes to a shootout and whomever is having to cover Adams because he’s a stud.

Fun fact: the Bengals are only one of three teams to ever pick 6 Rodgers in his entire career (2017, William Jackson III)

Not entirely. A fair amount of the bonuses will get paid, especially signing bonuses. But you can safely ignore backloaded bonuses in later years of long contracts. Those do matter for cap reasons but less so than the guarantees and stuff up front.

Let’s hope Mixon can go on Sunday. Hasn’t practiced yet this week, likely a game time decision and limited role most likely even if he plays. I weep for my fantasy team.

I have very specifically looked for the word “high” in every news report of his ankle sprain and have not seen it. Low ankle sprains don’t linger like high ones. Fingers crossed.

In other RB news, McCaffrey has been practicing all week, but they’re facing the struggling Eagles. Probably smart to limit him; 17 games is a long season.

Right. And the “guaranteed” money is usually in the form of a signing bonus, which is generally paid to the player in full immediately. Teams can prorate that bonus over the life of the contract for salary cap calculating purposes, up to 5 years I believe, which is why a team will sign, re-sign, or restructure a player to a 5-year contract even if they only intend to have him for 1 or 2.

Is that the cap hit? When you cut someone, whatever amount of signing bonus that was to be prorated in the rest of the contract comes due immediately?

But if you trade him, the other team takes ownership of the whole contract so you’re free and clear?

I would not be quick to give the league the benefit of the doubt on that. These “personal matters” could be anything from COIVD exposure the player is trying to keep hush-hush, a death in the family, a pending criminal charge, the birth of an illegitimate child, a dislike of blood pudding, or a Osaka-esque distaste for media sessions. In fact I think Urban Meyer’s absence from Tuesday’s practice was officially categorized as a “personal matter”. Maybe it’s mental health, but I would be highly suspicious of any “mental health issue” that’s magically addressed by them taking a few days off from football. Maybe I’m just a skeptic.

When you put it that way, my money’s on domestic violence and dui.

I think so. If a player is cut, any remaining “dead money” counts against that years’ cap, depending on the exact date the player is cut (I believe that date is June 1).

I’m relatively certain “dead money” stays with the team that generated it in most circumstances. If a player is traded, any money remaining on the contract is the responsibility of the new team, but all the money paid already by the original team, including signing bonuses, stays on that teams’ cap until its cap hit is “paid.”

This is somewhat out of date. The bonuses these days are a lot more sophisticated than just a “signing bonus”, everything from roster bonuses, to various guaranteed to convert performance incentives, and lump salary payments. And for most veterans the dead cap number is made up of salaries that were converted to roster bonuses upon renegotiation in the middle of the deal.

Even the so-called guaranteed money has a lot of fine print. The reporting would usually consider a roster bonus in year 1 as “guaranteed money” but for a player who signs an extension in the middle of the final year of a contract, it’s not REALLY guaranteed. If they go out and pull a Ray Rice before the start of the league year, you can damn well believe they won’t get that money.

That’s not the entire cap hit but it does represent a large chunk of it.

Cap economics are weird. If you execute a trade, you are often still be on the hook cap-wise depending on how you structured the bonuses and guaranteed money.

You can spread the signing bonus over the entirety of the contract, even if you paid it out immediately. So for a 5 year contract, you can spread the cap out over 5 years.

But if you trade or cut the player after 1 year or the player retires, you take the entire cap hit for that bonus the next season (you’ve already paid it out after all). That’s “dead money” and teams hate it, of course, and will avoid it. That’s why some players may get to stick around for another season even if their performance isn’t great or the team is moving on - they’d rather try to get value instead of eating potentially tens of millions in dead cap space.

Contract extensions are also weird, in that signing bonuses for those get spread out over the length of the entire contract, rather than extensions. So if a player is already under contract for 3 seasons, then extended for another 4 seasons, the cap hit can be spread over the next 7 seasons, i.e. 3 more years than the player is under contract.

And while a team can spread that money out, there’s clearly an incentive to pay as much of it now as possible (Jimmy G’s contract in SF was like this - $37 million cap hit up front in his first season and $3 million spread out on a $40 million first year). It’s just that it’s not always possible to do so and leave flexibility for other signings.

Then there’s performance based bonuses, which have a bit of subjectivity to them. If a RB has a performance incentive to run 500 yards this season, that’s very likely to be reached and will be counted against the cap provisionally. But if their incentive bonus is 2500 yards and winning the Super Bowl (say it’s the Jags), the bonus is not considered realistically achievable and doesn’t count against the cap.