A Look At Austin's Contract Structure

adjustment against the Cowboys this week dates back to the front-loading of Miles Austin's contract in 2010.

So, it's worth taking a look at what exactly Dallas and Washington did to draw the ire of the rest of the league. In the Cowboys' case, it was the lumping of $17 million of base salary into the uncapped year in an apparent effort to draw down his cap hit in future years.

Sportrac.com has all the figures. Austin was a restricted free agent in 2010, so the widely-reported six-year, $54 million deal was actually tacked onto his restricted season, making the deal, in essence, a seven-year contract for a bit over $57 million.

No signing bonus money was pinned to the 2010 season. Instead, his $7.885 million bonus was deferred over the next five years, from 2011-15. By doing that and front-loading the deal with a huge guaranteed base salary in 2010, the Cowboys were able to keep his base salary low for 2011 and 2012.

If not for the unforeseen *adjustment *to their salary cap for 2012 and 2013, the structure really would've proved advantageous.

His total cap hit in 2011 was $2.26 million, and is scheduled to be $2.72 million in 2012. It rises to $8.3 million in 2013, then $7 million in 2014, $8.46 million in 2015 and $11.38 million in 2016. However, the final year of the deal includes no guaranteed money, so there's a decent chance that Austin never sees his big base salary in 2016.

There are a few ways to look at the effect of the league's response, which probably won't be totally known until we see what moves the Cowboys make to create cap space. The team is expected to be docked $5 million from its salary cap each of the next two seasons.

One might think of the total cost of Austin's deal, in retrospect, as $67 million, adding on the $10 million lost against the cap.

As some have pointed out the Bears signed Julius Peppers to a huge deal in 2010, dumping almost $35 million into the first year.

The difference to the league, it's obvious, is that the Bears did not lap the field in terms of overall spending in the uncapped year.

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