The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, February 29, 2004

MEET THE SALARY CAP WIZARD
bustin' capscap buster
With the free agency period starting this week, NFL teams have some work to do on their payrolls. Enter the capologist, the front-office guy who has to decide who gets cut, who gets an accelerated signing bonus and who has to take a pay cut, all toward getting the team to that $80.582-million magic number.

The St. Pete Times provides this fun Flash piece to illustrate some of the finer points of capology (or, if you prefer, caprobatics). An interesting note regarding why the hometown Bucs can't do anything with their franchise-player designation:

In 1999, the Bucs made [Chidi] Ahanotu a franchise player, but because they did not sign him before the start of free agency in March, the six-year deal he signed in July made him the Bucs franchise player through 2005. Oops. Ahanotu was released after the 2000 season and has since played for St. Louis, Buffalo and San Francisco, all the while tagged as the Bucs' franchise player.

I've wondered about the finer points of the cap before, particularly about the so-called "dead money" it creates. I think today's articles clear some of this up for me; for instance, I was wrong regarding base salary being pro-rated and thus looking to me like money that's never actually paid out by a team. From what I've read here, teams eventually have to pay out the money that's proscribed under the cap limit, except for relatively small amounts that count as base salary in terminated contracts. Of course, the nature of the NFL's non-guaranteed contracts is, I think, the crucial reason why a hard cap works so well in football, and probably wouldn't work as well in other sports (pertinent as the NHL works toward a new collective bargaining agreement with its players).