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Joey Slye’s contract looks good for the Commanders and holds no surprises

no void years

NFL: Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Washington Football Team Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

We’ve known for a week or so that Joey Slye, who had earlier been tendered as a Restricted Free Agent, had signed a 2-year deal worth “up to nearly” $5m.

I always take the the tweets that use players’ agents as sources with a grain of salt, and the hair on the back of my neck always stands up when I read the words “deal worth up to”, as that number rarely reflects the cap charges that the team will likely face. This offseason, we’ve often faced a double-twist, as the Commanders’ front office has been making liberal use of void years in their contracts.


The LA Rams, the salary cap, and the time-value of money

For this reason, I like to visit Over The Cap a week or so after each deal is announced, since the guys at that site load up the data that comprise the expected cap charges once the contract is filed with the league office for approval.

When I looked at the summary of the Joey Slye deal at OTC, I was mildly surprised to see that the contract is fairly straightforward, and less lucrative for the player than Dustin Hopkins’ recent deals had been.

Prior to signing this 2-year deal, Slye would have been paid $2.43m on his Restricted Free Agent tender for the 2022 season. It looks like this 2-year contract is structured to keep him close to that number in cash, while reducing the Commanders’ cap hit by around $600k this season.

Source: Over the Cap

Slye gets $1m signing bonus, another $1.01m in base salary, and what looks like $20K per game that he is active. His expected cash for 2022 is $2.35m, which is pretty close to what he would have gotten under the RFA tender.

His expected cash in 2023 is $1.85m.

While the deal is slightly front-loaded from a cash standpoint, it is a bit backloaded regarding cap hits, which are $1.75m and $2.35m for ‘22 and ‘23 respectively.

His total expected value of $4.1m is significantly lower than the reported value of “up to nearly $5m”, which indicates that he has up to $900k in unlikely-to-be-earned incentives that OTC has not included in their cap hit chart.

Dustin Hopkins’ last two deals with Washington averaged around $2.5m per year over a 4-year period, so I had been expecting Slye’s contract to be closer to a ‘true’ 2-year, $5m deal. Getting him signed to a contract with an expected APY of less than $2.1m looks like a slight ‘win’ for the front office. Perhaps having the option of Brian Johnson on an ERFA contract at $825K provided some leverage in the negotiation.

Over the Cap lists Slye as the 24th highest paid kicker in the league at the moment. Given his 100% accuracy on field goals for the Football Team in 2021 (92% in 12 games with 3 different teams in the ‘21 season), and what appears to be a stronger leg than former kicker Dustin Hopkins, the Washington front office looks to have landed on its feet after some struggles at the position last year. The Commanders have done well to have locked up Slye for the next two seasons on a pretty thrifty contract that they can easily walk away from if he struggles in 2022.