Earlier today, we took a quick guess of how much it might cost the Cleveland Browns to sign both C Alex Mack or SS T.J. Ward if they do not use the franchise tag on either player. Our projections in a successful scenario are listed below:
- C Alex Mack - Projected at 6 years, $45 million ($7.5 million/year) with $18 million guaranteed.
- SS T.J. Ward - Projected at 5 years, $35 million ($7 million/year) with $17 million guaranteed.
If this happens, you have to ask yourself, "how does Ray Farmer like to structure contracts compared to Joe Banner?" Looking at the cases of OLB Paul Kruger and DE Desmond Bryant, Banner seemed to prefer lessening the signing bonus amounts for each of them (to pro-rate small amounts over the life of the contract), while giving a small first-year base salary but a large first-year guaranteed roster bonus. Since Sashi Brown is still the General Counsel of the Browns and specializes in contracts, he might negotiate terms in a similar manner. For the purposes of this post, we'll stick with that philosophy.
My projection would be that Mack's signing bonus would be $6 million, or $1 million per year. I would also expect a roster bonus of around $5 million in 2014, with the rest of the guarantees coming via his base salaries in 2014 and 2015. My scenario would have $2 million of that base salary being in 2014. Combined, the cap hit in 2014 would be $8 million for Mack.
My projection for Ward would be almost identical, except taking a little bit less from each figure. His cap hit in 2014 would be figured closer to $7.5 million.
If you combine both of those estimates ($15.5 million) and subtract them from the amount of available cap space the team has ($57.45 million), the Browns would still have a massive $41.95 million in available cap space. In other words, as long as Mack/Ward are not hell-bent on leaving Cleveland, there's really no excuse for the team not being able to retain either player.