Jonathan Allen was, a week ago, scheduled to play on his 5th year option and be paid about $10m this year. The franchise started the week off by announcing that he had signed a 4-year, $72m extension.
Now we know the structure of the contract. Here it is, courtesy of Over The Cap:
The re-worked contract ends up as a 5-year deal worth $82.6m, which is an average of $16.5m per year, but the contract pushes the bulk of the cap hits into the 2023-25 seasons.
This contract structure points to the expectation that the NFL salary cap, which has already been limited for 2022 through agreement between the owners and the NFLPA, will jump rather dramatically in 2023 as the impact from the new broadcast contracts kick in and the ill effects of the low 2020 revenue wash through.
Allen’s contract has $35.6m in guarantees, but they are almost totally in the form of his signing bonus, which amounts to $30m. His base salary of just over $1.1m this season is guaranteed, as is his $2m base salary for 2022. On March 20, 2023, if Allen remains on the roster, then $2.5m of his $14m salary for the ‘23 season becomes guaranteed.
During the final four years of the deal, $1m per season is paid as per-game roster bonuses, offering a minor buffer for the team against Allen’s continued good health. He also has workout bonuses of $500,000 per season in those 4 years.
As is true with nearly every multi-year contract that Washington gives its players, the structure of the contract commits Washington to keeping Allen on the roster for at least 2 seasons, though I imagine they envision him playing in DC to the end of this contract.
While most sports writers and fans focus on ‘dead money’ and ‘cap savings’ to determine whether the team can ‘afford’ to cut a player at any given time, these numbers are immaterial. What really matters is how much the player is paid in total divided by the number of seasons (or games) played.
‘Dead cap’ in the case of Allen’s contract, is merely the unallocated signing bonus after the 2022 season is complete (aside from the triggered roster guarantee in March 2023). If he were to be cut or traded at the end of any of the first four seasons, this is the effect:
As you can see, cutting or trading Allen at the end of the 2022 season would mean that he will have been paid $17.32m per season — pretty much market value for his position at the moment. With APY of less than $17m per year if he plays in Washington beyond 2022, the option to move on from Allen at any time remains available.
If Washington were to try to trade Allen prior to ‘23, ‘24, or ‘25, then the team that acquired him would be responsible only for his base salary, per game bonus and workout bonus, meaning that he would cost that team $15.5m per year in ‘23 and ‘24, and $17m in ‘25; all of these numbers are likely to be palatable if Allen continues to play at a high level, keeping open the option of trading him in the 3rd, 4th or 5th year of his deal.
All in all, this looks like a very fair contract for both player and team, and one that guarantees that the front office will keep Allen for this season and next, but maintains flexibility to trade him later if that is in the best interests of the team.