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Breakdown of Josh McCown's Contract With the Browns

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A closer look at the Browns' 3-year, $14 million contract with QB Josh McCown

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The full, year-by-year contract details for Cleveland Browns QB Josh McCown are now available, thanks to OverTheCap.com. The deal was originally reported as being for 3 years and $14 million, with $5.25 million guaranteed in year one and $6.25 million guaranteed over the life of the contract. While that is true, it does not reflect the cap hits that McCown will incur from 2015-2017, which we have illustrated below.

QB Josh McCown - Browns' Contract Breakdown
Base Salary Signing Bonus Roster Bonus Total Cap Hit
2015 $          2,250,000 $            666,666 $       1,000,000
$        3,916,666
2016 $          4,375,000 $            666,666 $                       0 $        5,041,666
2017 $          3,625,000 $            666,668 $           750,000 $        5,041,668
Total $        10,250,000 $         2,000,000
$        1,750,000 $      14,000,000
  • When I broke down the Browns' available cap space a couple of days ago, I was using the assumption that McCown would have a cap hit of $5.25 million in 2015 via a $3 million roster bonus. Instead, his roster bonus in 2015 is only $1 million, while his signing bonus was $2 million. For cap purposes, signing bonuses are divided over the life of the contract. Therefore, while McCown still physically gets $5.25 million in cash this year, his cap hit is only $3.916 million.

  • Under my previous assumption, I said the Browns had $49.389 million in available cap space. Having McCown's correct cap number for 2015, I am now re-calculating the Browns' available cap space at about $50.723 million.

  • McCown's base salary in 2015 is fully guaranteed, as is $1 million of his base salary in 2016. Together, that is $3.25 million. When you add in his $2 million signing bonus and his $1 million roster bonus (in 2015), that equals the $6.25 million for the life of the contract.

  • What happens if the Browns want to part ways with McCown next offseason? The remainder of his signing bonus ($1,333,334) and the $1 million in guaranteed base salary for 2016 would be counted as dead money -- therefore, for cutting McCown in 2016, the Browns would still carry a cap charge of $2,333,334 for him. If they cut him prior to the 2017 season, they would carry $666,668 in dead money, as long as they do so before his roster bonus of $750,000 is due that year.

  • It's been previously reported that McCown will earn bonuses of $2 million for each year that he leads the Browns to the postseason. Therefore, the max value of McCown's contract is $20 million.

I think there is very little chance that McCown is with the Browns for the life of his contract. Making it three years long gives Cleveland "an option" in the event that McCown stuns the world and plays magnificently, but when he's done being a bridge quarterback after this season, it'll probably be time to let him be the backup in 2016 before cutting him the following offseason.