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Adam Archuleta and how the Highest Safety Contract might've been a steal

WCG sent me an email this morning about Adam Archuleta and posted my response at Windy City Gridiron. Da Bears are short at Safety and are looking towards Washington's direction for a solution. Remember that Archuleta was originally going to play for Da Bears (I think him and Lovie knew each other from St. Louis?) but we outbid them with the Highest Safety Contrat In History.

Full disclosure: I cannot take credit for realizing how the Archuleta contract might actually be a bargain. I blatantly ripped it from Football Outsiders commenter Pat, who politely bitch slapped me down informed me in a discussion we had about the ins and outs of Archuleta's contract and the Amended CBA agreement, among other things.

The fact is, Pat understands the CBA better than I, though I encourage readers to pour over it here. It is enormously complicated and I haven't the time, brains, or inclination to mathlete myself to it. I desperately need a Hogs Haven reader to do so and become my CBA Guru. Every site should have one.

Anyways, what Pat was arguing was that a bunch of the contracts have funny money guarantees that are completely misleading. That's the extent of his argument I'm willing to explicitly assign him as he's clearly more informed on the CBA than I am and his argument was far more complex and nuanced than my idiot-monkey-brain could handle. I don't want to butcher his position anymore than I have already.

What Pat pointed out, though, was that we really kind of sort of got a steal on Adam Archuleta. While any contract where the guy goes from starter to 4th stringer (behind Vincent, Fox, Reed Doughty sometimes, etc.) is a burn, continual referral to Adam Archuleta's deal as the Highest Safety Contract In History is really hyperbole. Because Archuleta's contract is (I believe) filled with zee funny moneys, yes?

I'm explaining: A brief look at Archuleta's contract reveals he signed a 7 year around 35M deal with a 5M signing bonus and around 5M in other guarantees. The additional 5M guaranteed was in the form of a 2nd year option (all explained by Canfora here with my hysteric take here) that, if unexcercised, would turn his 2nd, 3rd, and 4th base salaries into "Guaranteed Salary". The totals bear repeating: around 600K + 1M + 4M = 5.6M.

So cutting him was never really an option because it would cost us the 4M remaining in signing bonuses plus the 5.6M in that guaranteed salary. Thats 9.6M in dead space that we simply cannot afford. I was flustered with this as it was clear Archuleta could not earn his salary as a 4th stringer, meaning we were keeping him on board for the wrong reasons.

I might have been mistaken.

What Pat pointed out was that Archuleta's contract might be, viewed holistically, fairly Redskins friendly. He earns around 600K in his first two years, 1M in his 3rd year, and 4M in his fourth year. But if we end up paying all that (without excercising the option) we've also covered 5.6M of the guaranteed money which is essentially double counted as Guaranteed and Salary because it became the nebulous "Guaranteed Salary".

So let's run those numbers: through 4 years Adam Archuleta will have cost us around 6.2M in base salary. He will have cost us 4M in signing bonuses with 1M remaining if we decide to cut him. The 5M other "guaranteed bonuses" are already accounted for in that 6.2M, as they are salary (if we don't excercise the 5M option, which we shouldn't).

6.2M base salary + 4M in signing bonuses + 1M remaining signing bonuses if we cut = around 12M. That's the roughly (note: I'm missing some numbers here but am confident they are close enough) amount we can walk away from Archuleta's contract after 4 years. So essentially the Highest Safety Contract In NFL History is really a 4 year, 12Mish contract with an option to extend for 3 years at 23+Mish. Viewed as such, is a 4 year 12Mish contract (that we can walk away from penalty free after 4 years) really all that bad? That's like three mil a year.

It gets more interesting. I have heard it suggested that "Guaranteed Salary" isn't something the team doing the trading is forced to cover in a trade. As far as I can tell, the CBA never mentions "Guaranteed Salary" in trades; it only mentions Signing Bonuses. While we cover the remainder of signing bonuses in a trade as if we'd cut them, the team being traded to (I think!) takes on all salaries and thus all "Guaranteed Salary". Meaning we could heap a trade recipient with 5.6M of Archuleta's guaranteed money. I think.

Anyways, that's all something to consider. Now that Chicago needs a Safety it at least seems possible that we can get rid of Archuleta to them without taking a 9.6M hit. Unless my understanding of the CBA or Pat's argument or my numbers are horribly wrong, or I'm just an idiot, I think there are some "outs" regarding the Archuleta contract so to speak. And I think it's about time we stopped referring to it as the Highest Safety Contract In NFL History and rather as Just Another Contract given, after breaking down all zee funny money, that's really all it is.

Personally I have no problem keeping Archuleta a Redskin as I do think he has a worthwhile skill set that can be put to good use by Gregg Williams. And recognizing what happened to Pierson Prioleau least year, a little depth at Safety never hurt anyone. For 3M a year I'd take it.