OXNARD, Calif. – Been meaning to get this off my chest for some time now, so time to take the first shot.
Keep hearing all this chatter about market value when it comes to these player contracts, more specifically the Cowboys' Contract Triplets: Ezekiel Elliott, Dak Prescott and Amari Cooper. This stuff about here is what the Cowboys have to sign these guys to because this is how much this player got paid and this is how much that player got paid, so now X, Y and Z have to be paid at least that if not more.
But here is the deal. Do you want to pay the market value publicized by player agents and total package? Or do you want to pay what the real market value is based on guaranteed money, without all the fluff, various bonuses and an inordinate amount of money stuffed into the final year of contracts that bloat the total package?
Here, let me give you a couple of examples.
- Todd Gurley: Signed a four-year extension in 2018, totaling $57.5 million, with a $21 million signing bonus and $45 million guaranteed, according to Spotrac. But because his 2018 base salary was already at $950,000, the deal ended up being four years, $49 million, so averaging $12.25 million the Rams could get out of after 2021 for $4 million of dead money. If the Rams keep him for the next year, then his average jumps to $12.5 million with no dead money for getting out of the final season. So not the $14.3 million average everyone keeps referring to.
- Michael Thomas: Recently signs a five-year, $96 million deal, not the reported five-year, $100 million averaging out to $20 million a year. He receives a $20 million signing bonus with $60.5 million of the contract guaranteed. That fluffed up number comes to $19.2 million a year. But here is the fine print on the guaranteed $60.5 million guaranteed: The Saints can get out of the deal after three years for $45 million, thus $15 million a year, or after four when the $60.5 million of guarantees expire, and that's still $15 million a year. The final two years of his deal has $34 million stuffed into the base salaries, plus various incentives and roster bonuses that aren't guaranteed.
- Carson Wentz: Signed to a four-year, $128 million extension, with only a $16.3 million signing bonus and $107.9 guaranteed. But over the first four years of the deal, because of his $720,000 base salary for 2019 still in place, the deal comes to $103 million, or an average of $26 million a year. There is $41 million of base salary in the final two seasons that aren't guaranteed.
So the point here is, don't get bamboozled by those inflated numbers bloated by non-guaranteed base salaries, non-guaranteed roster bonuses, incentives and escalators. And see, what teams are doing is giving up smaller signing bonuses so the proration does not eat into their salary cap if a player is released, and are using roster bonuses that don't prorate over the course of the deal, some guaranteed, some not. Word to the wise: Always find out first what's guaranteed.
Maybe this gives you a better idea of what real market value is.
- Stephen Sez: So when stories began circulating that Zeke is prepared to sit out an entire season if he doesn't get a new deal done, even though the Cowboys have him under contract for two more seasons, and that the team has known this since January, Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said, "That's news to us; doesn't change anything." He also said when asked if he thought any of these contracts could get done before leaving camp on Aug. 15 for Hawaii, Stephen said, "I think you could easily get out of Oxnard before anything gets done, not until we get back." And love this term when describing trying to get these three guys signed, but also have enough money in reserve for the 2020 season to make a run at re-signing Byron Jones, Maliek Collins, La'el Collins, Anthony Brown and Jaylon Smith, Stephen saying, It's a distribution dilemma that we have to figure out." And that's it in a nutshell.
- Mounting Concerns: At the conclusion of Tuesday's practice there were 17 players not participating in practice for whatever reason – injury, a vet day or contract holdout. The latest was defensive end Robert Quinn, who fractured a bone on the back of his hand, similar to the hand injury (fourth metacarpal) DeMarcus Murray suffered late in the 2014 season. He was able to play once the stitches were removed, and is why the Cowboys expect Quinn to be ready for the Sept. 8 season opener. And two of those guys on the list nursing injuries, wide receiver Lance Lenoir and offensive lineman Derrick Puni, were released on Wednesday. Fringe players, as the saying goes, can't make the club in the tub.
- Camp Shots: With DeMarcus Lawrence and Tyrone Crawford not practicing yet, and now Quinn out for the rest of camp, this has to be Taco Time, Taco Charlton entering his third season with an opportunity to make a huge impression … Kicker Brett Maher might be raising some eyebrows, having now missed kicks during two-minute drills the past two practices and only once so far has he gone six-for-six during kicking sessions, the rest five-for-six. Well, making five of every six attempts over 24 attempts, means 20 for 24, which is 83 percent. You'd like that to be at least in the high 80s … Talking about free safety Xavier Woods, head coach Jason Garrett said, "He's going to have a great impact on our team" …. Excited to see my man Deebo. You know, South Carolina's Samuel Deebo, drafted in the second round this year by San Francisco.
As a PSA, the Cowboys-Niners preseason game from Levi's Stadium on Saturday will be televised on the Dallas Cowboys Broadcasting Network starting at 8 p.m. (CT), with the pregame show beginning at 7 p.m. (CT), along with the NFL Network picking up the live feed of the 49ers Television Network.