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Sternberger Signs, But There Is Nothing To See Here

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Sternberger Signs, But There Is Nothing To See Here

The Packers third round pick, number 75 overall, Jace Sternberger, signed his rookie contract last Monday, one day before the start of the team's mandatory minicamp.  Per a tweet from Rob Demovsky, Sternberger's deal looks like this:

YEAR BASE SB W/O BONUS CAP # CASH
2019 495,000 251,632 - - - 746,632 1,501,528
2020 651,452 251,632 30,000 933,084 681,452
2021 769,548 251,632 30,000 1,051,180 799,548
2022 853,000 251,632 30,000 1,134,632 883,000

There is nothing to see here in terms of overall dollar amounts.  The total value of Sternberger's contract is $3,865,528.  That's about $34,000 less than the 74th pick got (Devin Singletary) and almost $18,000 more than the 76th pick (Terry McLaurin) signed for.  The only guaranteed money is the signing bonus.

It is true that some sites prior to the draft estimated that the overall compensation for the 75th pick would be $339,000 less than Sternberger's contract calls for, but those estimates are off by similar amounts for Singletary and McLaurin as well. 

There is nothing to see here in terms of the timing of the signing.  As of June 12, eleven other third round picks had yet to sign.  Eleven more third round selections signed between June 3 and June 11.  Third round picks have always been slow to sign their rookie deals. 

Only 5 second round picks remain unsigned.  All of the fourth and fifth round picks have signed.  All but one of the sixth round picks have signed (Duke Shelley of the Bears).  All but one of the seventh round picks have signed, and that is Austin Cutting, who is waiting to see if he will receive a waiver allowing him to postpone his military service.

The Packers did insert workout bonuses into Sternberger's contract.  Due to slotting and guarantees, workout bonuses fit third round contracts better than later rounds. 

Looking at J'mon Moore's contract, his base pay in each year is for the league minimum for that year.  That means that any workout bonus would have to come out of Moore's signing bonus, which is guaranteed money.  However, teams are not allowed to guarantee workout bonuses. 

Inserting a workout bonus in a fourth round pick's contract results in a reduction in the amount of guaranteed money, something every agent would bitterly oppose.  The contracts for the fifth through seventh round picks, Keke, Hollman, and Summers, consist of base pay at the minimum plus a signing bonus, so any workout bonus would have to come out of the signing bonus.  No agent would allow that.   

The contracts of both Rashaan Gary and Darnell Savage are 100% guaranteed.  Thus, no agent would allow a team to insert a non-guaranteed workout bonus.  However, not all of Elgton Jenkins' contract is guaranteed, yet it has no workout bonuses.  I am speculating, but I think the reason lies elsewhere.

Jenkins' contract is fully guaranteed for the first two years.  His base pay amounts for 2019 and 2020 are fully guaranteed, and of course the signing bonus is guaranteed.  His base pay for 2021 and 2022 are well over the league minimum projected for those years, so some of the excess (at least $100,000) could be moved to a workout bonus without reducing the total guaranteed money in the deal.  So, why did that not happen?

Many articles simply use the explanation that second round picks do not have to accept workout bonuses, but that makes no sense to me.  A player in year three is somewhat more likely to earn a work out bonus, which is earned between the middle of April and early June, than he is likely to earn the entirety of his base pay. 

Jason Spriggs' base pay this year exceeds the minimum by over $400,000, so $100,000 or more could easily have been converted to a workout bonus when the deal was negotiated.  Spriggs is far more likely to earn such a workout bonus in May and June than he is to earn the money by making the team in September, when he would have to earn it as base pay.  There is a reason workout bonuses are considered likely to be earned and immediately included in the cap calculation.  The Packers probably want to see how Spriggs looks during training camp and in preseason games, so he is likely to remain on the roster through training camp.  

I think the team is disinclined to insert workout bonuses in the contracts of second round picks, certainly not for the substantial amounts given to players on second contracts which run in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. Putting in workout bonuses requires the team to make a decision on the player earlier than is otherwise the case. 

The Packers have already fully guaranteed almost $4,250,000 to Jenkins.  Although $100,000 might not be enough to sway the decision-making process in Jenkins' case, consider whether the Packers would like to be watching Josh Jones lifting weights and earning $100,000 or more in May and June.

There could be other reasons buried deep in the CBA for not having workout bonuses in the players' contract.  Perhaps injury protection, pension calculations and the like.  

As a note, signing Sternberger reduced the team's cap space by $175,000.  The Packers waived Kapri Bibbs (despite some positive tweets during OTAs and minicamp), which saved $234,000 in cap space.  The net effect is an increase in cap space of about $59,000.   

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Fan friendly comments only: off Comments (13) This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Regarding Bibbs, I am assuming that the Packers sign a player for the rookie minimum. If the team signs Ibraheim Campbell, who has four accrued seasons, his salary would be a minimum of $805K, the same base pay Bibbs was signed for. So, there would be no change in GB's cap space.

Edit: Turf Show Times reported that LAR's 3rd picks, Bobby Evans and David Long signed their contracts on June 7, and NFLTradeRumors.com also shows that they have signed. That site now shows that 5 third-round, 5 second-round, and 8 first-round picks remain unsigned. Carolina still hasn't signed its first or second round picks, Brian Burns and OT Greg Little, yet.

Two players I coveted, Brian Burns and Deebo Samuel, remain unsigned.

ttps://nfltraderumors.co/list-of-unsigned-2019-nfl-draft-picks/

Coach JV's picture

Yup... I think that's why Bibbs was cut. Ibraheim Campbell is probably ready, or will be ready to pass his physical by the start of training camp. He's a good Safety that Pettine drafted with the Browns. He tackled well and prevented a few plays from blowing up in our faces. I think he's worth bringing back.

jeremyjjbrown's picture

I'd gladly see him back to. Especially with Jones baseless malcontent.

Since '61's picture

Nice job TGR! Appreciate the information.
Thanks, Since ‘61

IceBowl's picture

The money info is great. Thanks.

But, I would like to know what part of a 3rd round pick's contract is so hard to work out?

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

The short answer is probably split contracts and NFI splits, along with deferrals of signing bonus. 1st and 2nd round players have the leverage to insist on no split contract provisions. GMs start to insist on a split contract (one that pays less than the minimum if the player ends up on IR or PUP) beginning in the third round. Same for Non-Football Injury list. A 3rd rounder's split might be just for 2019 and just if the injury occurs during TC but not during the season, but a 6th rounder probably will have a fully split contract (doesn't matter when the injury occurs) for 2019, 2020, 2021 and 2022.

Just because ESPN reported a $2M signing bonus doesn't mean the player won't have to wait until 2020 to receive half of it. Timing is negotiable.

Third round players don't have issues with offsets since none of their money other than the signing bonus is guaranteed. They also do not have concerns over guarantees voiding due to suspensions for the same reason. That just leaves first year and total compensation to argue over, and the schedule of when the signing bonus actually gets paid.

Each draft slot has a minimum and maximum possible cap number, and a minimum and maximum cumulative total over the four years of the contract. While it is slotted, there is some wriggle room.

I think 3rd round picks are viewed rightly as still premium picks, but due to slotting, their pay is depressed beneath their value. Add an h to the link for a Jason Fitzgerald article on value:

ttps://overthecap.com/using-salary-data-to-better-value-nfl-draft-picks/

IceBowl's picture

Thegreatreynoldo'

Your points are noted, and accepted.

But something is missing.

Only 3rd round picks take the longest to work out contracts. 1st, 2nd, 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th rnd. picks have, basically, slotted contracts that can, and do, get done quickly.

I wonder what ambiguity do 3rd rndrs, have that drags out their contract signings?

Rak47's picture

Idk how accurate it is but I recently read that because of the CBA, third round picks are able to get a higher % increase over the previous years drafts picks as opposed to other rounds. Most picks from what I read can receive a 20% increase over the previous years picks from the same slot. Whereas because of the language in the CBA a 3rd rounder can get up to a 25%-30% over the previous year. Again I don't know how accurate that is as I'm not an agent or CBA expert.

jannes bjornson's picture

Percentage of playing time thresholds met may be in play, but that may be a finite number. Not sure if this came into play with the three rounders.

Thegreatreynoldo's picture

Ice Bowl, the even shorter answer is I am not entirely sure (a/k/a I don't know). The answer I gave above is based on an article written by Gil Brandt. There is no publicity given as to whether a deal has a split provision, so it is hard to verify. According to Brandt, every 5th-7th round contract has a full split. 3rd and 4th round picks might have a split just for a few years and/or under certain circumstances.

Most signing bonuses are at least in part deferred. I've noted that Matt Ryan got $23M of his $46M signing bonus right away but had to wait almost a year (April of the next year) to get the rest.

Rak, I went with 3rd rounders simply being volatile and also agree that there is some wriggle room. Sternberger got increases in total value (3.2%), signing bonus (4.9%) and first year cap hit (3.75%) over 2018's 75th pick, Derrick Nnadi. Wriggle room is definitely a thing: take a look at the contracts for the 73rd-77th picks in 2018 by total value, signing bonus and first year cap hit (remember - the numbers should progressively decrease):

73: $3.810M; 975K SB; $724K cap - Jerome Baker
74: $3.698M; 969K SB; $674K cap - Ger. Christian
75: $3.745M; 959K SB; 719K cap - Derrick Nnadi
76: $3.921M; 932K SB; 713K cap - QB M Rudolph
77: $3.619M; 929K SB; 712K cap - Sam Hubbard

The media describes slotting as a mathematically precise progression, but that isn't the case in most rounds. IDK if there was something wrong with Geron Christian or if he had a bad agent. Rudolph got more because he is a QB, most likely. Rak, IDK how much increase is possible since that doesn't seem to be a publicized number, but Jace didn't get much in the way of increases.

The first year cap number is all-important. By rule, the 2nd year can't be more that 125% of the first year. And additional increases in year 3 are limited to the differential in dollar amount between the first and second years. For example, Jenkins got $1.233M first year cap, and the full 25% increase to $1.541M in the second year ($308K in nominal dollars). The 3rd year is $1.541 + $308K, or $1.849M, the maximum allowed. The 4th year is $1.849M + $308K or $2.157M, again the maximum allowed. That can be thought of as a max contract, but it assumes that Jenkins squeezed all that it was possible to get out of the first year cap number. Note that Sternberger got almost the full 25% increase year two over year one, but year three over two was $68K less than the full 25% increase allowed, and year four over year 3 was $103K less than the full 25%.

Finally, JoeJuan Williams, the player taken one spot ahead of Jenkins, accepted a $50K workout bonus in year three, and a $75K workout bonus in 2022. In the article, I suggested that workout bonuses are better for the player than the same increase in base pay. Happy to have found this example of a fairly high 2nd rounder accepting substantial workout bonuses (here, $125K total).

chaka's picture

Packers should see if they can re-sign former Packers TE Colt Lyerla. He would be the best TE on the roster.

sam1's picture

Grow up chump!

IceBowl's picture

We have 5 weeks of growing, imagining, postulating!! LOL.

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