Thursday, March 04, 2004

The NFL continues to make the Packers signing of Chad Clifton for an $11 million bonus look positively frugal. Houston gave right tackle Todd Wade a $10 million signing bonus. This would be in line with the signing bonuses for other top flight right tackles, Washington's Jon Jansen got $8 million while St. Louis's Kyle Turley got $10 million, that signed last offseason. However, is Todd Wade even a top flight right tackle? didn't even list him as a top 10 free agent offensive lineman, while determined Clifton was the 2nd best available, behind only multiple Pro Bowler Orlando Pace.

On the bargain side of the free agent tackle aisle, Tampa Bay signed veteran San Francisco offensive tackle Derrick Deese. Deese can play left tackle, guard, or right tackle, and only cost a $2.5 million signing bonus. Although one player doesn't make an offensive line, it is interesting that San Francisco's offensive line was good last season while Miam's (where Wade played) was a disaster and I am curious whether Wade or Deese will be the better player next season.

There were two signings that made defensive tackle Cletidus Hunt's signing last offseason look like a bargain. Houston signed Robaire Smith with an $8 million signing bonus, after Smith had a career best 4.5 sacks in his first season as a starter. Then, Washington gave Cornelius Griffin an $8 million signing bonus after his 1.5 sack 2003 season. Both players appear very comparable to Hunt, who has 15 sacks for his career along with a career high 5.5 sacks in the 2002 season, except Hunt signed for $1.5 million less than Smith or Griffin. Aside from the financial savings, this savings might be the difference between filling out the roster with quality veterans instead of untested rookies. The Packers are well positioned to make it to the Super Bowl next season, and the fewer rookies they have to rely on next season the better.

Griffin brings up the whole matter of Washington, who have given out substantial signing bonuses for the second straight season. $15 million to Clinton Portis, $8 million to Griffin, $3 million to recently released Phillip Daniels, $7 million to Marcus Washington, and $8.6 million to Mark Brunell. Brunell might not even be the starting quarterback. Back in December, Washington gave Lavar Arrington a $20 million bonus. That is $62 million in bonuses, although some of it was deferred until later years. This is all on top of the approximately $30 million in bonuses Washington gave to players like Laveranues Coles, Chad Morton, Jon Jansen, and Randy Thomas last offseason. No other team has even approached this level of spending, because they don't have it or are unwilling to spend it, but this spending will explode Washington's salary cap in 2 or 3 years. Washington can renegotiate salary out into future years, but this team has the potential to one day have more dead weight on its salary cap then any team in the NFL had ever believed was possible.

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