High Five: 5 Reasons Not To Sweat Dalton’s Contract

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Jun 11, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) during minicamp at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

2:  Loaded in the Rear

Past his relatively light guaranteed payday in year one (both Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap received more), Dalton’s year two is a modest salary for a tenured quarterback, only $9.6M.  This is critically savvy by the Bengals because it frees up cap space in for a precarious offseason in order to help resign other marquee players like A.J. Green and Vontaze Burfict.  Interestingly enough, the base salary bursts to $10.5M and $13.1M in years three and four, respectively.  However, because of the contract structure, the salary cap charge from 2014 to 2016 will never be higher than $13.7 million and when it rises to $15.7 million, he can be released with minimal salary cap implications; see “dead money” above.  In many ways, this contract is reflective of Dalton betting on himself and his future worth to the team.

3:  Expanding the Cap

In 2012, the salary cap for each NFL franchise was at $120.6M, and projections at that time suggested only marginal increases over the coming years; $122M for 2015 was the thought at the time.  Fast forward to 2014, teams’ caps are already at $130M and current projections advocate that number may rise to as high as $150M by 2016.  In that same year, Dalton’s total contract would only cover about three-fourths of the increase.  In other words, the escalation of Dalton’s contract, despite its size, remains disproportionate to theoretical increases in the cap.

4:  Market Relativity

The full weight of Dalton’s contract lists him currently as the fourth largest quarterback contract in the NFL.  In doing so, the Bengals did themselves a favor by controlling projections within market.  Sure, Dalton gets some short-term “qwan” by joining the ranks of other lucrative quarterbacks (at least hypothetically), but in the not-so-distant future more quarterbacks will be earning their own payday.  Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson, even Alex Smith will all demand more money and guarantees that what Dalton’s contract provides.  In a few years, Dalton’s currently hyped salary will be middle of the pack, making him a huge value if he does not hit his ceiling.  Considering the salary cap projections, and the overall value of Dalton’s contract for both parties just gets better.