On Monday, the Dallas Cowboys signed QB Brandon Weeden to a 2-year contract worth $1.23 million, but no guarantees are included. Some may laugh at the Cowboys, but this isn't a bad signing for them in the least. They are getting a former first-round quarterback on a minimum salary invite to training camp.
If Jason Garrett can work wonders with Weeden, maybe he replaces Kyle Orton as the team's backup quarterback. According to reports, Orton has speculated that he might retire, and even if he does stay, he will generate a large cap hit over the next couple of years. The move also makes sense for Weeden, who will be closer to home and needed to jump on a team immediately to try to jump start his career again.
The move could also have some benefits to the Browns, because Weeden's rookie contract had offsets:
Branden Weeden's deal with Dallas will give the Browns some cap relief. His $1,124,872 & $920,000 '14 & '15 guarantees have offsets.— Joel Corry (@corryjoel) March 17, 2014
First, we have to remember that the Browns are still on hook for the original signing bonus that they gave Weeden, which will account for $1,079,745 in each of the next two seasons. The part that can offset are Weeden's base salary numbers. The Cowboys are giving Weeden a $570,000 base salary in 2014, and a $660,000 base salary in 2015.
|Browns' Cap Savings on QB Brandon Weeden|
|Browns||Cowboys||CLE Cap Hit|
|2014||$ 1,124,872||$ 570,000||$ 554,872|
|2015||$ 920,000||$ 660,000||$ 260,000|
|Total||$ 2,044,872||$ 1,230,000||$ 814,872|
In the table above, the original guaranteed base salaries that the Browns were allocating to Weeden are listed, along with what the Cowboys plan on paying Weeden. The "CLE Cap Hit" column illustrates how much in base salary the Browns are on the hook for if Brandon Weeden plays the full season with the Cowboys for those respective years.
Let's assume that the Cowboys keep Weeden. Taking his signing bonus into account, the Browns would owe Weeden...
$1,634,617 in 2014 instead of $2,204,617.
$1,339,745 in 2015 instead of $1,999,745.
In total, over the next two years, Weeden would count for $2,974,362 against the cap, instead of $4,204,362. All of this reverts back to the full amount, or a partial amount, if the Cowboys decide to part ways with Weeden at some point. That is why it's difficult to actually include the savings in the Browns' available cap space until each season concludes, so we probably won't do so.
Even if the Cowboys release Weeden, though, through 2015, the offset rules still apply to any other team who signs Weeden to a contract. The Baltimore Ravens and Cincinnati Bengals both reportedly reached out to Weeden before he signed with the Cowboys.