There has been some speculation by fans and analysts alike on how detrimental the Saint's recent Jairus Byrd signing could be in future years. A recent article by Tony Manfred of the Business Insider reflects this sentiment and paints a potentially dooming picture of the Pro Bowl Safety's contract. Though any large contract comes with a certain amount of inherent risk, it is worth looking into the specifics of the Byrd contract and how it will actually effect the Saint's salary cap situation in the years to come. All of the information in this article comes from Spotrac and can be found here. I've been sick for the last four days and have been pretty much bed-ridden so I thought I'd understand and outline the contract.
General Contract Details
- 6 years/ 54 million
- Average salary per year: 9 million
- Prorated Signing Bonus: 11 million
- Guaranteed Money: 26 million
- Fully Guaranteed Money: 18.3 Million
Understanding the Contract
Total Contract Amount = Base Salary + Signing Bonus + Miscellaneous Bonuses
54 Million = 35.6 million (Base) + 11 million (Signing Bonus) + 7.4 million (Misc. Bonuses)
Per Year Average
9 million = 5.933 million + 2.2 million + 1.233 million
As you can see the total contract amount is made up of: Base Salary, Signing Bonuses, and Miscellaneous Bonuses. The Base Salary, unless otherwise stated, is not guaranteed money. The Signing Bonus is guaranteed money. The Miscellaneous Bonuses can be guaranteed or not guaranteed.
In response to the narrative that the Saints might be forgoing their future for the present, what we want to look at is the guaranteed money or the money that, from the moment of signing the contract, we owe Jairus Byrd at any given time.
How Much is Byrd Guaranteed?
The figure I've seen most is 28 million but, per Spotrac, this figure is not correct and is actually much lower. The number to remember is 18.3 million which is the figure that Byrd is fully guaranteed over the next 6 years. So, how does this work?
Each year, the Saints pay Byrd a 2.2 million dollar figure, which is known as a signing bonus. Since this 2.2 million dollar figure is paid once for the first 5 years of the contract, the Saints pay 11 million dollars total in signing bonus. So 11 million dollars of the 18.3 million dollars comes from a set 2.2 mil/year signing bonus.
So then where does the other 7.3 million guaranteed dollar amount come from? Two places.
First, Byrd has a base salary every year. As stated above, this base salary is different than the signing bonus and miscellaneous bonuses and it averages to 5.93 million a year. The contract is backloaded -- meaning the base salary is only 1.3 million dollars this year (2014) but is in the 8 million dollar range in the last four years of the contract (2016-2019). This 2014 1.3 million dollar base salary is guaranteed. Meaning if we cut Byrd tomorrow, he still makes the 2014 base salary along with all the prorated signing bonuses. That then leaves 6 million in guaranteed money.
Second, the remaining 6 million dollars in guaranteed money comes from a 6 million dollar roster bonus in 2015. This means that in 2015, Byrd gets a guaranteed 6 million dollar figure (and is included in the 54 million dollar total). This 6 million dollar bonus is not a base salary or signing bonus so it then is a Miscellaneous Bonus. The 6 million dollar roster bonus is the biggest Miscellaneous bonus and the only guaranteed Miscellaneous bonus.
So then Byrd is fully guaranteed the following: 11 million dollar Signing Bonus, 1.3 million 2014 Base Salary, and 6 million dollar 2015 Miscellaneous Roster Bonus. This means that of the 54 million, only 18.3 million of that is absolutely guaranteed.
So How Tied Down are We?
The following are the cap hits (includes BS + SB + MB) over the next 6 years and the dead money that would remain if we were to cut Byrd in any of these years:
- 2014: Cap Hit: 3.5 Million, Dead Money: 18.3 Million
- 2015: Cap Hit: 10.3 Million, Dead Money: 14.8 Million
- 2016: Cap Hit: 9.7 Million, Dead Money: 6.6 Million
- 2017: Cap Hit: 10.5 Million, Dead Money: 4.4 Million
- 2018: Cap Hit: 11 Million, Dead Money: 2.2 Million
- 2019: Cap Hit: 9 Million, Dead Money: 0 Million
As you can see, it is unlikely that he will be cut in his first three years -- each carrying 18.3, 14.8, and 6.6 million dollars in dead money relative to only 3.5, 10.3, and 9.7 million dollar cap hits. However, in the last three season the dead money figure (4.4, 2.2, and 0) is relatively small in comparison to the cap hits (10.5, 11, 9), and so it becomes more likely -- most likely in his last year (2019) with no dead money attached.
Some may still wonder, what is the difference between fully guaranteed money and guaranteed money. In the case of Jairus Byrd's contract, this is the difference between 18.3 (Fully G) and 26.3 million (G). That's a difference of 8 million. So where does it come from?
In 2015, Byrd carries a base salary of 2 million. In 2016, Byrd carries a base salary of 7.4 million. Though base salaries are not guaranteed in any way by default, Loomis added something in for Byrd to sweeten the deal. As of the third league day in 2015, the 2 million base salary becomes guaranteed. As of the third league day in 2016, 6 million of the 7.4 million base salary becomes guaranteed. Thus, 2 million + 6 million = 8 million.
Why is this not considered fully guaranteed? Because Byrd has to be on the roster on the third league day of 2015 and 2016, so it's conditional. This 8 million dollars isn't extra or a bonus, but just guarantees part of Byrd's base salary in 2015 and 2016 for being on the roster. This is largely inconsequential because as we stated before, it is unlikely that Byrd is cut in his first three years because of high dead money and lower cap hits in comparison.
Conclusion and the Saints' Philosophy
We have one of the best GMs in the entire league. This is a very cleverly constructed contract that pays Byrd an average of 7.8 million in the first 3 years and then carries a maximum of 6.6 million in dead money in the last 3 years. That's pretty good. So despite the potential doomsday analysis, it doesn't seem so bad after all.
When the organization is setting up large, back-loaded contracts it becomes apparent that Peyton and Loomis are wanting to position themselves in the best way to win now. However, because of Loomis' clever orchestration of contracts like Byrds, the organization isn't necessarily forgoing their future for the sake of the present.
With such large signings in Brees, Colston, Grubbs, Evans, Byrd, and (soon) Graham, the risk is evident -- after all, a lot of the cap space is invested in a small percent of the team is scary. What this means though, is that the Saint's must rely on young, cheap talent. They must continue to hit in the Draft and Undrafted Free agency to get a good amount of production out of cheap contracts. Thus, with so many large contracts, it's important that many players, usually younger, outplay their contracts. Examples of this in the last year were Kenny Vaccaro, Kenny Stills, Cameron Jordan, Akeim Hicks, Junior Galette, Zach Strief, Khiry Robinson, and others. Additionally, it means cutting under-producing contracts like those of Roman Harper, Will Smith, and Lance Moore (debatable).
It seems then that Loomis knows exactly what he's doing -- cleverly constructing contracts like Byrd's and continuing to get massive production out of cheap, young talents. We really do have one of the best GMs in the league and even though large contracts can be nerve-racking, the future is bright as long as we continue developing our younger players and getting expected production out of older veterans.This contract is not one of desperation and mismanagement.
It is one of confidence. In both the coaches to develop future players into quality starters and in the proven veterans to continue the success grounded in a Championship team.
As always, thanks for reading and feel free to comment below!