Wednesday, April 24, 2013

2013 NFL Draft and Clay Matthews' New Contract

Who will the Green Bay Packers will select on Thursday night? Kevin Seifert said no one knows, so my guess yesterday is as good as anyone else's.

There's a lot of talk about which teams might want to trade up, but NFL Network's Jay Glazer and Daniel Jeremiah aren't sure of a single team who wants to. The only player they mentioned as someone who teams might want to trade up for is West Virginia's WR Tavon Austin, and it would be a huge surprise to see the Packers trade up for a wide receiver.

As a side note, I don't know how Austin's become such a high riser when he's only 5-8 and 174 lbs. A wide receiver doesn't have to be over 6-0 to become a success in the NFL, but 5-8 is short. He's going to have to create some space on his routes because he's going to be tough to throw to in tight coverage.

Since I have no idea what's going on with the Packers' draft, I'll compare two recent mega contracts: LB Clay Matthews vs. CB Darrelle Revis.

Per, Matthews went the conventional route with a big signing bonus ($20.5 signing bonus) followed by an almost-certain-to-be-paid 2014 roster bonus ($5 million). Once all the guaranteed money is paid out in 2013 and 2014, he'll receive a big bump in annual salary ranging from $7.6 million in 2015 to $10.4 million in 2018. The average of the new money he'll receive (six years, $69.73 million) is $11.62 million.

Revis instead did something completely different: zero guaranteed money and a huge $16 million per season salary. Even TE Tom Crabtree was guaranteed $50,000 by the Buccaneers. Revis is thinking that there's no way the Buccaneers will release him in 2013 or 2014, so he'll receive $32 million for the first two seasons even though it's not technically guaranteed. For the Buccaneers, they'll take no salary cap hit if they decide Revis is too expensive, which he might be in a couple years (see CB Nnamdi Asomugha).

One way to look at it, though they're out a lot of money in 2013, is that the Packers got a bargain by agreeing to pay $4 million less per season to Matthews than Revis. Even with the signing bonus, the Packers will pay Matthews only $3 million more over the next three years ($35 million) than Revis will receive over the next two ($32 million). If you're not expecting the Packers to release Matthews in the next three years, and not worried about the salary cap hit his hypothetical release would cost, then the Packers did very well.

The plus side for Revis is that this was the only way he'd become the highest paid defensive player. DE Mario Williams got a huge guaranteed payout from the Bills and an annual salary of $16 million per season, but being paid greater than $12 million per season is something reserved only for defensive lineman who record sacks. The highest paid cornerbacks are guys like Brandon Carr and Cortland Finnegan at $10 million per season.

In the end, I can understand why each player and team did what they did, and it looks like everyone got what they wanted. Matthews' contract extension was something I had been concerned about, I thought it would create a future salary cap disaster, but now it's looking like the Packers did better than I was expecting. Keeping Matthews under their control for the next few seasons without making him one of the highest paid defensive players in the NFL looks like a win.

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