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The Jon Jansen Contract

[editor's note, by Skin Patrol] For your consideration... I think I'm more pleased with the deal than the below indicates. It is more generally a rant about the Redskins Cap Philosophy that perhaps (I need to put more thought and research into the semantics) isn't catastrophic or excercised to that degree in this particular case. It might just be a solid, legitimate, shiny new contract for a deserving contributor to the team. If the below seems hysterical, please feel free to tell me so in the comments below. Caveat Over.

Jason La Canfora has the details on Jansen's new contract. Before we get to that, I want to briefly call attention to my criticism of restructures as a means of saving cap space in the present. My criticism is that restructuring is always advantageous for the player, limits the team's future flexibility, and merely postpones problems as opposed to mitigating them. By all indications, Jansen's new contract does all of that.

Bascially, the Skins will end up cutting Jansen's cap figure from what would have been around $5.4 million to about $1.7, but at a steep price. He had two years left on his deal and as it stands they could very well be re-doing this deal again two years from now given Jon's age and the money associated with the contract.

Instead of making $4.25 in base salary in 2007 - all of which counts against the cap - Jon will make the vet. min of around $720,000 in base salary, but he will get $5 million to sign. So for him, isntead of making $4.25 this season, he's getting $5.7, plus, next March he gets a $5 million option bonus. So that's essentially $10.7 mill guaranteed on this 5 year, $22 million deal.

If I'm reading this correctly, that means Jansen will save us significant money in the 2007 season, cutting his cap hit of 5.8M (1.6M in signing bonus plus 4.2M in base salary) to 3.32M (1.6M in signing bonus plus 1M in prorated signing bonus plus 720k) for a total saving of around 2.5M in space. And in the process, Jansen cashes in, as the guaranteed money is paid immediately to him in the form of a check, as opposed to base salary which is (I believe) paid over the course of the season per week.

For the Skins, I think it is much riskier. He is 31 and has been hurt a lot the last two years. He's a rock and plays through a ton of stuff, and never missed a game in his career before the Achille's tear in 2004, but still, he's getting up there for a guy in the trenches.

The Skins had to create cap room - again - and essentially bank on restructuring 4-10 deals every offseason.

Before we praise the Redskins for their shrewd management of the cap, we should wander why the Redskins are in the unfortunate position of having to restructure, while so many other teams are not. All of this damage is self inflicted from years past when we signed overpriced contracts and restructured players like Chris Samuels.
It's a strategy that has not worked to this point.
Hasn't worked because it simply recreates itself. Restructuring begets additional restructuring. Putting out fires of your own making is not a worthwhile excercise.

There is a redeemable aspect of all this:

according to sources, they made a lot of promises to Jon last year when they convinved him to alter his contract, and assured him he would be rewarded for his time here - he is the longest tenured Skin - in the 07 offseason if he played ball with them in 06. To their credit, they were true to their word, something several players have questioned on their way out of Ashburn in recent years.

And Jansen is a "core" Redskin, as much as any player on this team. He's been here since 1999 and I'd like to see him retire here. We can pine endlessly on about keeping core Redskins, but that requires keeping your word to said players and treating them as if you want them around.

Also, as Canfora points out, this may be the precursor to a Derrick Dockery signing. We need cap space to get him under contract, and if keeping this line intact is a priority for the team then it's only natural that we get Jansen's cap hit down a few million.

So what am I complaining about? Having to make unreasonable promises, for one. Don't make those promises, front office, and the players won't feel sleighted when you can't offer the moon. Keep your word to Jansen, but in the future be more careful with your word. Perhaps if you'd had a more realistic attitude towards restructures years ago, then you wouldn't have had to mess with Jon's contract last year. And thus you wouldn't have had to make those promises when altering his contract. This is a perfect example of a vicious cycle that creates itself, as a few years down the road we'll hear the same story only (perhaps) with different names and numbers associated.

I'll leave Jason with the final word as he puts it better than I (emphasis added):

Snyder is willing to continually front load deals with new bonuses in order to get various cap numbers lower, and that's a noble gesture, but it's also indicative of a team philosophy that lacks much long-term - or mid-term, vision, because they are always trying to buy their way out of one problem or another. And, to this point, it has precluded acquiring sufficient depth, which can loom large.