In July, the Cleveland Browns signed DE Myles Garrett to a 5-year contract extension worth $125 million, with a $50 million signing bonus and $100 million in guaranteed money, that would keep him with the team through the 2026 season. At the time, it made Garrett the highest-paid defensive player in NFL history, but now he is in second place behind Joey Bosa.
We always love doing year-by-year contract breakdowns at Dawgs By Nature, but the details of his contract haven’t been made available — until now, to an extent. Jason from Over the Cap talked about the details of Garrett’s contract in his most recent podcast. Jason stresses that this is an extremely-friendly deal for Garrett, and not for the Browns, adding that this looks like a throwback deal to how contracts were structured in 2003-2005.
If you’d like to listen to the part about Garrett (and some speculation about what Baker Mayfield could see), start listening at the 28:00 mark, through the 43:00 mark.
After comparing the deal between Khalil Mack, Garrett, and Bosa for a bit, Jason talked about how Cleveland is using a “double option strategy” in addition to his initiail signing bonus to distribute his prorated guaranteed signing bonus:
“In terms of contract structure, this was a home run for Myles Garrett. I don’t know what Cleveland was thinking with the way they did this. This contract is basically a throwback to 2003-2005. As we talked about before, they’ve gone to the double option strategy here. An option bonus is a way to throw another signing bonus into a contract.”
Cleveland did one [option bonus] in the 2nd year and 3rd year of the contract. He has a $21 million signing bonus, then the first option bonus is $20.7 million, and then $17.97 million for his 2nd option bonus. We’re looking at a total of $59.67 million in prorated bonus money, at signing. That’s insane, that’s crazy. I know they have the extra years, but that is absolutely insane. All these options are basically fully guaranteed. In 2023, most of his salary becomes fully guaranteed at the end of 2022. Your cost to cut in 2023 is about $45 million in dead cap. He’s really protected through four years of this deal. I just think it’s a crazy contract structure — not in favor of it whatsoever.”
Jason then talked about how the contract seemed to be along the lines of what you’d see from the Philadelphia Eagles organization. Even though GM Andrew Berry was part of Eagles as their VP of Football Operations for just one season last year, he may have picked up some influence from how they do things:
“This contract is somewhat in the vein of what we’d see from the Philadelphia Eagles — not so much up front, but how they approach contracts in general. Philadelphia is very bullish on their own players, and the Browns are very bullish in Myles Garrett. Typically, an option bonus is not subject to forfeiture after he’s received it, and I’d be terrified if he gets suspended again. Cleveland is also not front-loading the deal. There is a logic to it. The strategic mindset of this is you’re pushing money into the future.”
Jason’s concerns about Garrett being suspended again are valid — if he receives an option bonus next year, and then gets a year-long suspension, Cleveland has missed out on that money. Jason then went on to talk about the year-by-year cap charges for Garrett from 2021 to 2026:
- 2020: $10.126M (before the extension, would’ve been $9.67M)
- 2021: $9.35M (before the extension, would’ve been $15.184M)
- 2022: 12.96M
- 2023: $29.18M
- 2024: $32.12M
- 2025: $27.5M
- 2026: $28.6M
Usually, we talk about the idea of front-loading a contract, which gives teams more flexibility against the cap to cut a player later in their deal if they don’t pan out. However, the Browns, when you factor in the option bonus and when certain years of his base salary start becoming fully guaranteed, have back-loaded the contract. This is at the core of what makes it a player-friendly deal, because for Garrett, he’s going to collect all that money, while the Browns just have to live with whatever he does. One reason he speculates that the deal is structured the way it is? The pandemic, and how teams might see some impact on spending over the next two years — by having less money committed now, that gives Cleveland more money to roll over into those upcoming two seasons:
“I’m assuming from a strategic standpoint, they’re very worried about next year’s cap, because of the league-wide cap situation. They’ll keep this year’s $40 million in rollover, and save some money next year and the year after, which are the years most likely to be impacted by the COVID. Your first major adjustment probably comes in 2022. We want to push that money into the future when the cap is much bigger in the future. I would always take a wait-and-see approach.”
Fascinating stuff! We’ll still post the full year-by-year contract details for Garrett whenever Over the Cap publishes them on their site.