Contract talk 101 with ESPN’s Andrew Brandt


We were lucky enough to have ESPN’s NFL Business Analyst and former Green Bay Packer Vice President Andrew Brandt answer a few questions for us on the NFL free agency period.

Andrew a salary cap and negotiating expert filled us in on a little contract talk 101.

1)  What type of ways/tricks do teams and players use to make contract look attractive for both player and team to public?

Andrew: Using the total value of the contract, rather than the early money or guaranteed money is often used to get headlines about the deal.  The overall contract number, over five or six years, means very little in practical terms.  It would be relevant in the NBA or MLB but not in the NFL, where there are no fully guaranteed contracts except for the top of the first round. 

2)  What metrics do organizations use to set the market for players?

There are a lot of salary research and comparables to be used, but the real question is where the player is in his contract stream.  If he has remaining year or years left, the team should be entitled to a discount.  If the player is a free agent, then the team may have to pay "retail" or whatever the market will bear.

3)  What are a couple of ways teams can get in trouble trying to play with the cap too much?

This is what I call “short-term gain for long-term pain."  Sometimes restructuring contracts or structuring them with low first-year cap numbers is just pushing off the problem.  Ideally, a team should "pay as you go" with equal Cash and Cap spending, but a team needs to get ahead of the curve, with ample cap room, to do that.

4) Any thoughts on the Mike Wallace contract?

First reports were stunning, but it seems to fall in line — over a three-year period — with the marketplace below Johnson/Fitzgerald.  I believe its $36M over three years, the same as Bowe and V. Jackson and similar to Harvin.  Wallace was at the fortunate intersection of being the top WR in the market and a team in need of his special skills.

Once again we would like to thank Andrew for taking the time to talk us. You can follow him on twitter @adbrandt.