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Re-signing Chris Cooley a "priority"

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Among news of Shawn Springs return to Redskins Park for the OTAs, with the requisite quotes about how awesome it is to be back ("It's good to be back" "It's business as usual, getting ready to play football") that don't really make any sense, since if it were so good to be back he would have been back a while ago, so really what you are saying is that it's good to be back but Arizona was nice too, anyways amongst all that good stuff was the word on Chris Cooley and his potential new contract:

The Redskins have made re-signing tight end Chris Cooley an offseason priority, but formal negotiations have not begun, according to sources with knowledge of the situation.
Strange development, as I would've assumed the best way to prioritize contractual negotiations was to engage in them, though I'm old fashioned. Presumably the delay is related to the team signing its rookie class and feeling out the offseason, at which time we'll know better how many funds are available for securing one of our best offensive weapons.

Jason La Canfora has the remaining Salary Cap space at 5M, as of Sunday PC had us at 6.68M, and he's been very reliable. We have a rookie pool of 3.4M to spend on our newest draftees (and fodder) though the bulk of that will go towards 6th pick LaRon Landry. Depending who you ask, that leaves us ~2.6M-3.4M or more presuming we don't spend the full 3.4M on our rookies.

I am not a professional on Tight End contracts and only know what other people tell me. Cooley signed a four-year ~2M rookie contract but has earned a significant pay increase with three solid years of play. Cooley has 19 touchdowns over three years with his best year arguably being 2005 (71 receptions, 774 yards, 7 touchdowns). Biggest development last year was that Cooley doubled the amount of 20+ yard receptions he had from the previous year. In 2005 he had six 20+ yard receptions on 71 total receptions or around 8.5% of his catches. 2006 he had twelve 20+ yard receptions on 57 receptions or a whopping 21% of his total catches. He also had two 40+ yard receptions, the first of his career.

So, commensurate with his productivity, Chris Cooley will get paid. What amount I haven't the foggiest, though I did track down the contractual numbers on NFC East rival and Tight End re-signee Jason Witten, who recently autographed a seven-year 29M contract. Details:

And that is what happened Saturday as the Cowboys handed a seven-year, $29 million contract to their Pro Bowl tight end, conceivably keeping him in the plans through the 2012 season.

Witten, who was entering the final season of his original four-year contract he signed in 2003, will earn nearly $13 million over the next eight months. Not only did he receive a $6 million signing bonus on Saturday, but he will also get another guaranteed $6 million option bonus next March, not to mention a base salary of about $500,000 this season.

I'm not the contractual or salary cap guru 'round these parts but here's what I see. Six million signing bonus prorates over five years to 1M a year (maximum proration at the time, that went up to six years in 2007). Option bonus can be amortized once they excercise it, so it starts on 6 years of proration this year (as the contract was signed in 2005). Jason Witten got paid in 2005 then, if my math is right, 500K plus the signing bonus proration of 1.2M=1.7M, which accelerates to 1M more (plus increase in base salary) the following year but who cares about that.

Obviously the salary cap increased and thus contract expectations with it, so these numbers are low but not dramatically so. That extension was signed less than 12 months ago and Witten's production to this point in his career has been comparable (but Cooley is better!). So perhaps I've provided some base figures on which to measure what we could conceivably end up paying Chris Cooley in Y1 of his new contract, and it is a manageable amount given our remaining salary cap space.

So let's start getting some of these folks signed, front office.