Last week I posted a piece about the Raiders options with Carson Palmer. Since then, the Raiders have traded for a new QB, former Packer and Seahawk Matt Flynn. They also traded Palmer to Arizona, effective yesterday.
Since the trade, I’ve received a lot of questions about why Palmer counts against the cap and how the “dead money” works.
Here is text from last week’s piece on his contract:
“When a player is cut, their guaranteed money accelerates into the current season. Therefore, if the Raiders cut Carson Palmer this year, all of the remaining guaranteed money from the $11,675,000 signing bonus signed last year would come into 2013’s cap.
The Raiders paid 1/5 of that money last season as part of the prorated amount so four years’ payments of $2,335,000 remain, or $9,340,000.”
In the case of trades, the same accleration of the previously prorated signing bonus occurs . Because Palmer’s signing bonus was spread out over 5 years and only the first fifth was paid last year, the remaining $9.34M accelerates into 2013’s cap.
If Palmer had stayed on the team, his $13 million base salary would have combined with 2013’s allotment of the prorated signing bonus, $2,335,000 to give him a cap number of $15,335,000.
When the team traded Palmer, again, it accelerated the remaining 4 sections of the signing bonus into 2013, leaving $9,340,000 in dead money under 2013's cap.
So, by trading Palmer the team still realized a cap savings of $5,995,000 in 2013 ($15,335,000 - $9,340,000 = $5,995,000).
Before trading for Palmer, however, the Raiders had already made a move to secure themselves the most likely candidate to be their starting QB in 2013 – former Green Bay backup Matt Flynn.
The Raiders traded for Flynn and then restructured Flynn’s contract. The team made the rare choice of restructuring Flynn’s contract to a higher number – moving his contract from the $5.25 million he would have made in his original contract with Seattle to $6.5 million in Oakland in 2013.
Teams restructure contracts all the time but I don’t recall hearing about a team moving a player’s cap number up in the coming year because most teams are struggling to make it under the cap.
So why would the Raiders make this move? By putting more money in 2013 they were able to put less money in 2014 – Flynn and the Raiders moved $1.25 million from 2014’s salary (which was initially to be $6.25) into 2013’s base salary and then decreased 2014’s base salary to $5 million.
The Raiders also put all of the guaranteed money into 2013 – so Matt Flynn’s $6.5 million in 2013 is fully guaranteed. But that’s almost meaningless for this year. It’s not as if Reggie McKenzie spent the draft picks to trade for him only to cut him.
Plus, Flynn (having accrued than four years in the NFL as an active player) is now a vested veteran. As soon as he was on the Raiders roster at the beginning of week 1 of the regular season, as a vested veteran, his 2013 base salary became fully guaranteed anyway. So this provision meant nothing to the Raiders – it cost them nothing they wouldn’t already be paying.
Why would the Raiders take the steps to do it, then, you ask? I can think of only one reason. The Raiders put all of the guaranteed money in 2013 so that Flynn’s 2014 salary is not guaranteed. The only reason I can think that they would do that is so they have the freedom to cut Flynn in the offseason of 2014 without having any dead money go against the cap.
It’s likely this is was the provision that Flynn didn’t like as much when the Raiders were negotiating with his agent prior to the trade. However, the team solved this issue by giving Flynn a bit more money in 2013 – a year they aren’t expected to do much anyway – so they could have full flexibility next year.
Flynn now has a year to prove that he should be the team’s long term quarterback. Next year, Reggie McKenzie can evaluate his options and make the best determination without being tied to any particular player.
Because the Raiders saved slightly under $6 million when they cut Palmer ($5,995,000 to be exact) and because the team restructured Flynn’s contract to be $6.5 million in 2013, the team’s cap number is actually $505,000 higher in 2013 than it would have been had they simply kept Palmer.
But McKenzie was looking to the future. Palmer would have counted for a lot of dead money against the cap in 2014 if he were still on the roster at this time next season, too, and McKenzie likely determined it was better to take most of the cap hits in 2013 to free up as much money as possible in 2014 so that he can start to build a team of which he can truly be proud.
For more Raiders news and analysis, follow me on Twitter @AsherMathews
Interesting piece Asher. In between all the numbers, the way it obviously played out was Reggie understands Carson is not the future, he looked at the draft and saw no QBs, so he took on Flynn as a stopgap. The money works out about the same - except we get Carson off the books sooner and we have a QB who MIGHT be the future. With his shaky background - Flynn has one year to prove both Philbin and Seattle were wrong about him. If he does? Great - works out for both of us. If he doesn't it means we have another down year and another high pick for whatever QBs declare next year. So we've basically covered all the bases as best as possible given the circumstances. I've been the first to hammer Reggie on the bad moves, so I'll be the first to say this seems like the best option available right now. If nothing else it's a step in the right direction.
That said - I don't believe in Flynn, but I could be wrong. The Pryor situation remains the same - we wasted a guy who could have been either a valuable player in another position or - if nothing else - a couple draft picks via trade. If he wins the starting job (highly unlikely imho) - he'll be on the same one year probation as Flynn and Flynn's career will be over.
@AsherMathews If the Raiders don't expect to do much why trade for MF? Why not go with Pryor and build around him? QB Comp MY AZZ!! $$
@AsherMathews do you thinks that the Raiders will trade down during the draft?
@AsherMathews By the way, I will say it again. This was an excellent article filled with details every Raider fan should know.
Was there any money guaranteed in Flynn's contract in 2014 though? If not, the explanation as to why Reggie Mac took the rare move of frontloading Flynn's contract has no reasonable explanation. What did it gain the Raiders salary cap wise in 2014. Is there a before and after spreadsheet type analysis that illustrates Reggie's move? How does this help the 2014 cap?
This is the the guy I wanted when Campbell got hurt!! Hopefully Flynn and Pryor have an open QB with the best guy winning the job. I thik this would be Flynn, but if it is Pyor so be it - just glad to see Palmer gone. I also like that McKenzie made the Contract of Flynn fully guaranteed this year so really this is almost a "1-year deal". If Flynn wins the QB battle and fails to do much as a starter or if Pryor happens to outright be the best QB during the off-season the team can cut Flynn without any more major salary cap implications.
I'm liking your moves McKenzie!!
@insuraider Thank you.
If McKenzie and Allen don't see Pryor as the future at QB (which is the way things look), maybe Pryor could be traded to either the Eagles for Nick Foles or the Redskins for Kirk Cousins? I see Pryor better suited to run both the Eagles and Redskins Offenses than Foles and Cousins respectively; and both these guys would probably be better suited to our Offense than Pryor.
@RickyBo60099188 The Raiders aren't as optimistic about Pryor's future as you are. However, they'll give him a chance to earn starting spot
definitely. If you're asking about #3 specifically that's less clear RT @JoshRobeson you think that the Raiders trade down during the draft?
@insuraider Thank you. Writing these pieces helps me learn and grow myself so I enjoy writing them.
From what I have read there is no guaranteed money in 2014 (or 2015) unless Flynn is on the roster in week 1 - then his salary for the year is fully guaranteed at that point. It seems this may have been what the hold-up was with getting Flynn acquired as it is essentially a 1-year Contract with team options for 2014 and 2015.
@nilbymouth I would love to get Cousins for Pryor - but I doubt Pryor has that much trade value and I doubt the Skins would give him up considering RG3's knee injury last season. More likely we could get a late round pick or two for him.
@AsherMathews C'mon Ash, surely you can't believe that BS. DA hosed him last yr & isn't about to give him a fair shot this yr either. $$
@nilbymouth I think there was some guaranteed money ($2 million) still left on Flynn's original deal with Seattle and the Raiders inherited it. Regardless, as Asher Mathews clarified, he is a vested veteran and about as much of a 'lock' to make the week one roster as anyone. But still doesn't answer why he got a raise in real money for the 2013 season of almost a million dollars. Couldn't Reggie Mac have better used that spare change to go after free agents on the market today? And supposing that Terrelle Pryor takes a huge leap in preseason and wins the starting job outright, aren't we left with an overpriced backup like Seattle was last year? I could think of a number of better uses for our dead money cap strapped budget than an expensive clipboard holder.
@d_cambre we haven't signed one yet so I see either a late rd /UDFA pickup.
@RickyBo60099188 who's our 3rd string qb? Are we gonna draft a qb? What's ur thoughts?
@d_cambre He's a puppet, needs to grow a pair. Uncle Tom azz niqqa.
@RickyBo60099188 RM has got to have some say in this also,cause he's drafting people. Those guys have to fit the mold of the QB.
@d_cambre That something is DA. Just like Fisher despised VY in Tenn.
@RickyBo60099188 I agree with you,I'm just sayin,there's got to be something that seems to keep them from handing him the keyes.
@d_cambre Does he score TD's? Raiders hadn't scored 3 TD's in 9 wks.
@RickyBo60099188 I like Pryor,but theirs got to be something that RM & DA knows that we don't know about Pryor.
This year, yes Flynn is a lock. But after this year he is not - which is why McKenzie reconstructed his Contract as he did. This way as you say, if Pryor makes a huge leap in progress this season, Flynn may be an "overpaid" backup this year, but next season he is off the books with very little dead money and for minimal compensation really. However, if Flynn makes huge strides and looks to be a quality starter at QB, then McKenzie has him locked up for pretty cheap for the next couple seasons.
Palmer was not the answer, and needed to be moved on elsewhere either be trade or release. Palmer obviously didn't want to be on the team any longer (which is not what you want from your QB / leader) so why drag out the inevitable? With this being obvious, Pryor needed competition and Flynn was the best available option. There were no better Free Agent options and as far as I am aware no better trade options either. Getting Flynn also meant QB didn't have to be a priority in the draft which I don't think has any better options than Pryor anyway. I would rather McKenzie possibly end up overspending on backup QB this year if Flynn looses out to Pryor than have to waste an early draft pick on a rookie QB or sign one of the pitiful Free Agent options left like Vince Young.