Even though that didn’t happen, he may yet find a way to help Bill Belichick and Co. Tonight, Bryant became the first first-rounder to sign, inking a five-year deal with a max value of $11.8 million and $8.3 million guaranteed. And since he and Devin McCourty were only separated by three picks, the framework could be in place for a deal.
We mentioned the other day how the language regarding the option bonus, and worry about the player’s ability to get that money after a potential lockout, was muddying the waters. Not just with McCourty, but with just about all of the Top 45 or so picks.
Well, according to someone with knowledge of this one from tonight, the answer is simple: Eliminate the option bonus all together. Here’s how it worked …
Bryant got a significant amount more up front than Peria Jerry got last year, and that $2.52 million was split between a signing bonus and roster bonus (the divide was a bookkeeping matter for Dallas; As a practical matter, it’s all signing bonus, since Bryant gets it right away). The rest of the bonus money came in the form of a one-time incentive clause worth $3.185 million, which is exempt from the rookie pool (which forced the second-year option bonuses in the first place).
The triggers for that incentive are easily reached and, if Bryant were to get hurt and miss the year, would roll over to the next if they aren’t hit right away. Bottom line is that Bryant is guaranteed to get that money — the question is when — and Dallas could get around the rookie pool.
The option bonus issue is eliminated because the option bonus isn’t there. The difference? A player knew that option bonus was coming during Day 1 of the next League Year. That the players lost the certainty with the chance of a lockout was what created the problem here. With this deal, Bryant simply doesn’t know when exactly when the money’s coming, but if he stays healthy, he’ll get it before he would’ve gotten the option bonus.
Anyway, this is all a little complicated, but the deal makes sense, and it could well set off a flurry of deals to come over the next few days.