Redskins @ #3. Bwa hah hah...Keep it up Danny!
(sorry about bad link)
Crunch Time For Numbers Crunchers
Nancy Gay, Chronicle Staff Writer
Tuesday, February 17, 2009
(02-16) 20:49 PST -- The NFL salary-cap police members are locked and loaded, and it's time for franchises to get their payrolls in compliance with the league's projected $123 million cap for 2009. This must be done by Feb. 27, the day before the official 2009 league year begins.
As we know, the 49ers and the Raiders were big spenders during 2008's free-agent signing period. As it turns out, their exuberance in free agency did not yield much on-field success.
Now they are paying the price for that extravagance. The Bay Area franchises maintained '08 payrolls in the NFL's upper tier, and they must be flexible to have money available to sign free agents and draft picks.
The NFL Management Council's auditors are computing how various players' incentive bonuses from '08 will affect each team's adjusted payroll for '09. Other factors, including players who are waived, franchise tags placed on players - which count in full against the '09 cap - and tenders placed on restricted free agents, will contribute to payrolls increasing or decreasing before the compliance deadline.
Every NFL front office already has a good idea where it stands against the $123 million total, which is why you saw the Jets and quarterback Brett Favre come to an agreement Wednesday about his retirement.
Something had to be done with Favre. His base salary for 2009 is $13 million, plus $600,000 in prorated bonus money.
As of January - before payrolls were adjusted - the Jets were at least $9 million over the $123 million limit for '09. The Jets placed Favre on the reserve-retired list Wednesday, and his $13.6 million cap charge comes off their payroll.
Where do the 49ers and the Raiders stand? We won't know for certain until the final audits are complete.
However, according to NFL Players Association figures obtained by The Chronicle, the Raiders' payroll in the last computed 2008 team-by-team survey in January was $116,111, 648, ranking them ninth in the NFL. The 49ers' team salary was $108,978,416, 13th in the league.
Remember, these totals will change considerably by the time cap compliance is nigh - and not because the 49ers just dumped $3.475 million off their books last week by waiving linebacker Tully Banta-Cain and safety Keith Lewis. Or not only because the Raiders place that $11.97 million franchise tag on cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha before Thursday's deadline.
All those fuzzy "performance incentive" bonuses contractually promised to players last season also come to roost right about now.
There are two categories of bonuses.
"Likely To Be Earned" (LTBE) incentives are paid to players who are assumed, based on past performances, to achieve those same statistics. If they do, these bonuses count toward the cap. If they don't, teams receive a credit.
Teams try to get around these LTBE incentive charges by linking them to team-improvement categories, such as wins, points scored by offense, sacks allowed or subtler nuances like average net yards per rushing play.
By tying individual performance incentives to team-improvement categories, franchises can call these "Not Likely To Be Earned" (NLTBE) bonuses, which don't count against the cap.
Eight team categories can be used to compute NLTBE's for veteran contracts; rookie contracts are limited to three categories. If the player doesn't meet the criteria, the incentives don't count against the cap.
Agents don't mind including NLTBE incentives into their clients' contracts because they greatly inflate a contract's value - and gain big headlines in the media.
That's why so many of the top-1o draft picks - players such as Raiders running back Darren McFadden, for instance - will have numerous NLTBE incentives in their deals, to entice the player and agent to sign.
What's the big deal about NLTBE incentives? If McFadden earned any of his NLTBE incentives, and it's likely he did, the Raiders will be charged for them in '09.
It's also worth noting that the team payroll totals we've listed include cap charges for players released by the teams during the '08 season.
The 49ers, for example, cut linebacker Brandon Moore in August, but they were forced to carry $1.04 million in salary-cap charges for him on their '08 payroll. Why? Because he was released with two years remaining on his original five-year contract, a deal that included a $2.6 million signing bonus.
When Moore was waived, the 49ers no longer were able to prorate the remaining two years of that bonus ($520,000 for 2009 and 2010). The bonuses accelerated, amounting to the $1.04 million cap charge.
That's what is known in NFL terms as "dead money" under the cap.
In the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the NFLPA tried to protect its players from being released in the middle of their contracts with this clause, which is why you see fewer teams agreeing to up-front signing bonuses. They don't want a Brandon Moore headache - on the field, or off.
Top NFL 2008 payrolls
Here are the top 15 NFL team payrolls for the 2008 season as computed in January 2009, according to NFL Players Association figures obtained by The Chronicle. The NFL's salary-cap limit for 2009 will be $123 million per club. The average payroll in the NFL for 2008 was $106,817,344:
1. Jets $133,918,131
2. Saints $130,436,150
3. Redskins $127,280,675
4. Colts $127,034,791
5. Cowboys $119,759,725
6. Broncos $118,325,837
7. Browns $117,327,329
8. Panthers $116,248,235
9. Raiders $116.111,648
10. Giants $112,075,732
11. Jaguars $111,990,303
12. Rams $109, 794,350
13. 49ers $108,978,416
14. Chargers $107,206,082
15. Patriots $107,206,082
E-mail Nancy Gay at firstname.lastname@example.org.
This article appeared on page D - 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
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