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Breaking Down the Contract for Browns RB Ben Tate

How much money is RB Ben Tate set to make, and what will his cap hit be?

When the Cleveland Browns traded away RB Trent Richardson last year and the rumors started circulating that the team was interested in RB Ben Tate, I was a little iffy on the prospects of him coming here. I liked the talent he had displayed when healthy, but I thought he would command a large contract, something to the effect of $20+ million over several years.

Instead, things worked out great for the Browns. They are getting Tate on a 2-year deal worth a tad over $6.1 million. He also gets $2.5 million guaranteed, which includes his $1.5 million signing bonus. There are also some incentives that Tate will earn, which I explain underneath the table below:

RB Ben Tate - Browns' Contract Breakdown
Base Salary Signing Bonus Roster Bonus Total
2014 $        1,000,000 $            750,000 $          656,250 $        2,406,250
2015 $        2,200,000 $            750,000 $          750,000 $        3,700,000
$        3,200,000 $        1,500,000 $      1,406,250 $        6,106,250

Here are some notes on Tate's contract:

  • As most of you should know by now, the $1.5 million signing bonus gets pro-rated over the life of the contract. I said there was $2.5 million in total guaranteed money. The other guaranteed money is Tate's 2014 base salary of $1 million.

  • The roster bonus is where things get a little interesting. Several sources on Twitter were reporting the deal to be worth $6.2 million, but Over the Cap reported it as closer to $6.1 million. The difference came in the roster bonus section.

  • Tate's contract says that for every game he is active in 2014 and 2015, he will earn a roster bonus of $46,875. Over a 16-game season, this is $750,000. In the roster bonus column below, 2015 reads this amount. Why is 2014 a lesser amount? Jason from Over the Cap explained to me that for cap purposes, in the first year of the deal, the team only has to count however many games Tate played in the previous season against the cap. Last year, Tate played in 14 games for the Texans, and 14 * 46,875 = $656,250.

  • Here is some additional insight from Jason regarding how and when the cap would change, depending on whether Tate plays fewer than or greater than 14 games in 2014:
    If he plays more games you will see that number rise during the year. If he plays in less games it will stay at the 6.1 million number and the Browns will get the difference added onto their 2015 salary cap.
    Technically, if Tate plays in all 32 games with the Browns from 2014-2015, that's where his deal would be $6.2 million vs. $6.1 million. Right now, though, Tate's cap hit for 2014 is a very generous $2.406 million.

  • The other element to Tate's contract is that he can earn roster bonuses worth $500,000 each season if he reaches a certain amount of yards. I asked Jason about this, and he said that while he doesn't have an exact number, in order for this bonus to not count against the cap (which is the case -- it does not count toward the cap at the start of the year), the incentive would have to be greater than what he did last year, which was 771 yards rushing.

  • At this point, we can only guess how many yards Tate needs. In 2010, RB Ryan Grant had an escalator (not a bonus) in his contract worth $500,000 if he reached 1,000 yards rushing. The same year, RB Ronnie Brown needed 750 yards rushing to hit a $500,000 roster bonus. In 2013, RB Jamaal Charles needed 1,400 rushing yards to increase his base salary by $300,000. My guess is that Tate wouldn't have to be a record-breaker -- perhaps near 1,000 yards rushing -- to kick his bonus in, given the low deal he signed.

What do you think of Tate's contract? Could he be one of the best bargains of the offseason?