Well, that five-year, $50 million contract might impact the local club sooner than I thought.
The National Football Post’s Andrew Brandt Tweeted earlier this evening that the 49ers and Willis’s agent, Ben Dogra, found and exploited a loophole in the CBA to get around the “30 Percent Rule”. I actually emailed Brandt (a former agent and lead negotiator for the Packers) a little while ago, and he told me he’s still working through the details, and will have a story up at NFP tomorrow.
(UPDATE 10:52 p.m.: Pro Football Talk’s Mike Florio has an explanation of how the sides circumvented the rule. I’m still a bit foggy on it … but it seems like having a signing bonus in Year 2 that’s not guaranteed against skill creates a second deal. The key will be seeing if this allowed the difference between Willis’s 2010 and ’11 salaries to be greater than 30 percent.)
Here’s the bottom line for you guys: If the league approves this deal, it could open the door for Tom Brady’s new contract to get done. As I wrote back in February, the 30 percent rule — which states a player’s salary can’t go rise more than 30 percent in a new deal from 2009 to 2010 — could well keep the Patriots’ franchise from getting a new contract before the next CBA is worked out.
Brady made $5 million in base salary last year. So the max the Patriots could give him in a new deal in 2010 salary is $6.5 million. I was also told tonight that from there, rather than there being a 30-percent bump on each year’s salary, his raises in base salary can only be by that original $1.5 million increment each year.
It’s kind of complicated, so let’s simplify it. Say Brady were to get a five-year deal. Here’s how his capped salaries, under the current conditions, would look over the life of that contract:
2010: $6.5 million
2011: $8 million
2012: $9.5 million
2013: $11 million
2014: $12.5 million
Add that up and it’s $47.5 million over five years. Now, contrast that to what Peyton Manning — who carried a $15.8 million base salary in 2009, thus giving his agents and the Colts more flexibility — might get.
Based on the fact that Philip Rivers, Eli Manning and Jay Cutler all signed deals worth about $15 million per year in the last eight months, it’s not far fetched to think the NFL MVP would get $20 million a season.
So if Peyton gets $20 million per season, it stands to reason that Brady would get that much.
Let’s say, for the sake of having round numbers, the Patriots quarterback is to get $100 million over the next five years. Then, take that figure of $47.5 million in base salary, and you have $52.5 million you have to make up in bonus money.
And that’s without knowing what kind of penalties the league will retroactively put on signing bonuses if a new CBA is struck and the cap returns in 2011.
That deal could then be cap-crippling, and that’s why this negotiation, when compared to Manning’s, isn’t apples-to-apples at all. There’s a perception out there that the quarterbacks could be involved in a high-stakes game of Contract Chicken over the next few months (Drew Brees could be getting a deal, too), but the truth is that the situations are very different.
That brings us back to Patrick Willis. If Willis’s deal exploits a loophole, and that loophole holds up with the league, it could make it easier for Brady (and a lot of other veterans) to get the contracts they’d want.
So you can bet there are some people down Rt. 1 who’ll be paying close attention to this one.