Per the Washington Post:
Brunell, reached on his cellphone, said he has not given up hope of starting for another team but would only want to be a backup in Washington. Coach Joe Gibbs said he wants to retain Brunell, and the sides are trying to strike a deal that would reduce the amount of Brunell's salary that will be counted against the salary cap.
Mark Brunell is going to cost this team 6.7M in cap space in 2007. He has just over 4.5M in signing bonus remaining, meaning we get fairly substantial savings by cutting him. The article covers all this, but adds this part that I don't quite understand:
All of this is relatively semantic, we're either saving 2M or else 5.2M or else 1.5M. In all instances we are saving. The indisputable fact is that Mark Brunell is currently locked into a contract he cannot possibly earn as a backup and likely cannot earn even when starting. I don't say this to be mean to Mark Brunell, who I am actually a big fan of. As a person. Not as my starting QB. Not as my backup for 6.715M a year.
That's why I unequivocally say we cut him, immediately. It will instanter save us 2M in cap space and by 2008 we will be free of all lingering financial obligations to Mark Brunell. That is win/win. Nothing against Mark Brunell, but given our cap situation we simply cannot afford a 6+M backup QB.
What troubles me most is that the team is currently in negotiations with Brunell, which means it is making a bad situation worse. Without knowing the details, I have to assume that Mark Brunell is not agreeing to a pay cut (as I don't know if that is even possible or allowed by the Player's Union). So that means the team is finding a way to turn his 5.2M base salary into guaranteed bonus that can be prorated over the 4 years of his contract. A veteran of his tenure makes, at a minimum, 765K (or around there, I believe). At most, then, the team could turn 4.435M of his base salary into bonuses, prorated over 4 years (1.1M per year, and change). So the maximum saving in a restructure for the team is 6.715M - (765K+1.1M=1.865M) = 4.85M.
Now that is a substantial amount of money, that could go a long way towards freeing up room and signing Dockery. So it's a no-brainer, right?
Absolutely not. You've now turned around 4.6M of guaranteed bonus money into over 9M of guaranteed money that is going to get paid to Mark Brunell no matter what. We think in terms of how much is "saved" in 2007 (a huge 4.85M) but really the payment is just postponed. Driving the point home: again, no matter what, Mark Brunell will get his 2007 salary if we restructure and he remains with the team. And that amount will count against the Washington Redskins cap no matter what.
As Mark Brunell's salary only increases over time (5.2M in 2007, 6.4M in 2008, 7.6M in 2009, 8.8M in 2010(!)) we're going to be having the same discussion every offseason except for two important factors:
- Mark Brunell will be a year older and a year further removed from contributing to this team.
- Mark Brunell will now have Millions of additional dollars protecting his 2008, 2009, and 2010 salary.
All of this speaks to a general philosophy of this team to simply sweep financial problems under the rug, to be dealt with in a year or two. I disagree strongly with this spending attitude, as it is one of many reasons why we are annually in Cap Purgatory.
Rant almost over, two final points:
- If Mark Brunell is negotiating a pay cut (if that is possible) then my entire post is irrelevant.
- It shouldn't matter whether Mark Brunell is restructuring 1 dollar or the maximum 4+M on his 2007 base salary. If it isn't worth paying in the here and now, it isn't worth paying next year, either.