More evidence of the ability of Russ Ball and Ted Thompson to negotiate a contract can be found in the details of Jordy Nelson's new four-year extension.
Ball, the Green Bay Packers vice president of player finances, and Thompson, the club's general manager, completed a deal that will keep Nelson in Green Bay through the 2018 season. The extension is light on guarantees, heavy on workout and roster bonuses and extremely team-friendly during the first three years.
Nelson will receive just $11.5 million in real guarantees, all coming in the form of his signing bonus. He has available roster bonuses totaling $2.5 million, spread out over a yearly basis at $500,000, or $31,250 per game. Another $2.25 million is available in workout bonuses, including $500,000 every year from 2015-18. His $250,000 workout bonus in 2014 has already been earned.
Overall, Nelson's cap hit never goes above $8.8 million during the first three years.
He will count $5.925 million against the Packers cap in 2014, $4.6 million in 2015 and $8.8 million in 2016. Overall, his three-year cap hit equals just $19.3 million.
For context, consider Mike Wallace will count $17.25 million against the Miami Dolphins cap in 2014 alone. In 2015, Nelson is currently scheduled to rank 28th in cap hit among receivers. Meanwhile, Calvin Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald will both count over $20 million against their team's respective caps in 2015.
Nelson's base salary jump up to $8.25 million and his cap hit to $11.55 million in 2017, when he will be 32 years old. The next season, his cap hit increases slightly to $12.55 million. The Packers may entertain the idea of restructuring his deal by 2017, but a jump in the league's salary cap may actually keep Nelson a bargain that far down the road, especially if he can remain productive in his early 30s.
Bottom line here: The Packers are once again getting a terrific three-year value for Nelson, who will almost certainly outperform the early seasons of the extension. By the time the deal jumps in value, the Packers may be looking at a leveraged restructure, or the real possibility that an expected increase in league-wide salary cap will keep Nelson a relative bargain.
Ball and Thompson strike again.
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