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Breakdown of OG Joel Bitonio’s contract extension with the Browns

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NFL: Preseason-Cleveland Browns at Tampa Bay Buccaneers Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve covered the contracts of all the Cleveland Browns’ free agent signings in 2017. In case you missed them, here are the links to the year-by-year breakdowns:

-C J.C. Tretter
-OG Kevin Zeitler
-WR Kenny Britt

Now, there is just one more thing left to cover: the contract extension that was given to OG Joel Bitonio on Day 1 of free agency. First, let’s look at what was originally on the final year of his contract for 2017 -- this was part of his rookie deal:

OG Joel Bitonio’s Original Rookie Contract, 2017

Year Base Salary Signing Bonus Roster Bonus Workout Bonus Total Cap Hit
Year Base Salary Signing Bonus Roster Bonus Workout Bonus Total Cap Hit
2017 $1,164,777 $573,036 $0 $0 $1,737,813

He was going to make $1.737 million. Cleveland worked out a five-year extension with Bitonio, but also spread the money over the 2017 season. That means they basically tore up the final year of his contract (sans the signing bonus) to execute a new 6-year deal worth $51.165 million and $17.165 million that is fully guaranteed.

OG Joel Bitonio’s Contract, Cap Hits Per Year

Year Base Salary Signing Bonus Roster Bonus Workout Bonus Total Cap Hit
Year Base Salary Signing Bonus Roster Bonus Workout Bonus Total Cap Hit
2017 $3,164,777 $573,036 $8,500,000 $0 $12,237,813
2018 $5,500,000 $0 $500,000 $0 $6,000,000
2019 $6,500,000 $0 $500,000 $0 $7,000,000
2020 $8,000,000 $0 $500,000 $0 $8,500,000
2021 $8,500,000 $0 $500,000 $0 $9,000,000
2022 $8,500,000 $0 $500,000 $0 $9,000,000
Total $40,164,777 $573,036 $11,000,000 $0 $51,737,813
  • You’ll notice the total cap hit in the bottom right corner is a little higher than what we specified in the paragraph above the table. If you remove the signing bonus for 2017, though, it all works out. Our guaranteed money below will not include that signing bonus amount (but it still applies against the cap — we’re trying to look at new guaranteed money for Bitonio).
  • Bitonio has $17.165 million that was fully guaranteed at signing. That includes his entire base salaries for 2017 ($3.165 million) and 2018 ($5.5 million) and the $8.5 million roster bonus for 2017. That big roster bonus allows Cleveland to have a big cash spend and cap hit this year, while not having to worry about dead money later on in the contract.
  • For example, if Bitonio is a bust or injury-riddled, then in 2019, it won’t cost a single penny to cut him.
  • If Bitonio is on the roster during the 3rd day of the 2018 league year, then $1.335 million of his 2019 base salary becomes fully guaranteed.
  • If Bitonio is on the roster during the 3rd day of the 2019 league year, then the remaining $5.167 million of his 2019 base salary becomes fully guaranteed.
  • From 2018-2022, you see that Bitonio has $500,000 in roster bonuses each year. He will earn this for every game that he is active, which comes out to $31,250 per game.
  • We're not certain exactly how much playing time he needs to have, but Bitonio has a $500,000 playing time escalator for 2020, and $1 million playing time escalators for 2021 and 2022. So the total value of the contract could potentially end up being $2.5 million more than originally stated if Bitonio is on the club all six years, doesn’t miss a game, and reaches his escalators.

It's tough to determine how to value Bitonio's contract. If Cleveland had reached the same valued extension near the end of the season and just split the money over five years, then Bitonio would be averaging $10.23 million a year. However, because they put a chunk of it in 2017, now it's only $8.527 million per year.

I think the impression is that with a healthy 2017 season, Bitonio would’ve gotten a little more money per year at the conclusion of the season, but probably not too much more. It was a smart deal for him to take, knowing the injury issues he’s had. Cleveland structured it in a way where they showed how much they value the player, but if Bitonio keeps getting injured, they can cut bait in a couple years and get him off the books.