Under the Cap: Top Ten Cornerbacks
by J.I. Halsell
This week on "Under the Cap," we're looking at the top ten starting cornerback contracts in the league. As one looks at the table below, the contract of Raiders cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha stands out head and shoulders above the rest with an average per year of $15.2 million.
The average per year isn’t the only aspect of Asomugha's contract that strikes one as an anomaly. The contract is technically a six-year contract but practically speaking, it's either a two- or three-year contract depending upon Asomugha's performance. Under any scenario, years four through six of the contract will be voided. On its face, at the moment the contract was executed, it had a guarantee of $25.1 million. This guarantee comes in the form of a $7.5 million signing bonus, a $4.5 million year one salary guarantee, a $5.85 million year two salary guarantee, and a $7.2 million year three salary guarantee.
Additionally, the contract contains a $15.8 million option bonus in year two; this option contains a non-exercise fee, meaning if the Raiders choose to not exercise the option, Asomugha still receives the cash. So, unless the Raiders terminate this contract before 2010, Asomugha is essentially guaranteed a total of $28.6 million over 2009 and 2010, which is also the two-year total of this contract.
Here's where the contract really gets interesting: If Asomugha does not achieve the contractual performance qualifiers in year one or two, then years three through six are void, and he becomes an unrestricted free agent after 2010. The contract precludes the Raiders from franchising him. Conversely, if Asomugha achieves the qualifiers, his year three salary escalates from $2.1 million to the greater of $16.9 million or the amount of the quarterback franchise tender, and this salary is fully guaranteed. Therefore, assuming the qualifiers are achieved, over years one through three Asomugha can earn at least $45.5 million, all of which is guaranteed, and once years four through six are voided the Raiders are precluded from franchising him. In short, this is a great contract for the player and represents an anomaly in the cornerback market from both a value and structuring standpoint.
The Asomugha contract aside, the 2008 Asante Samuel contract executed by the Eagles represents the multi-year market-setter for elite starting cornerbacks. Not only does Samuel's contract lead the multi-year market in average per year at $9.5 million, but it also leads the market with a guarantee of $23.6 million and a three-year total of $32.1 million.
Speaking of three-year totals, to put the DeMarcus Ware contract in perspective, his three-year total is $45 million, compared to Asomugha's $45.5 million. The other blockbuster defensive contract this year, that of the Redskins' Albert Haynesworth, has a three-year total of $41 million. The quarterback contracts of Eli Manning and Philip Rivers both have three-year totals in the neighborhood of $50 million.
The Giants' Corey Webster has a good deal that leads the multi-year market with a guarantee per year of $4.2 million, with 48.3 percent of that total guaranteed.
Packers cornerback Charles Woodson is a candidate for defensive player of the year this year, and his seven-year contract from 2006 guaranteed him $10.5 million on a total package that has an average per year of $6.1 million and three-year total of $18 million.
Antoine Winfield of the Minnesota Vikings signed a contract earlier this year, at age 32, that guarantees him $16.1 million on a contract that averages $6.9 million per year. Broncos cornerback Champ Bailey's contract ends in 2010 and going into 2011 Bailey will be 33 years old. Given the Winfield contract, it will be interesting to see by comparison the contract that Bailey receives.
When one looks at the crop of young cornerbacks across the league, Cincinnati's Johnathan Joseph could be the next to join this top ten list, as his rookie contract expires after the 2010 season. Even though his rookie contract does not expire until after the 2012 season, Jets cornerback Darrelle Revis will ultimately join the list, and stands a good shot of being at the top of the list at some point.
Here are the top ten starting cornerback contracts in the league:
|Top Ten Starting Cornerback Contracts (in millions of dollars)|
Next week, we'll analyze the top ten starting safety contracts in the league. If you’re interested in learning more about the salary cap and contracts, I'm holding another Salary Cap 101 webinar on Saturday, for details, visit Salary Cap 101.
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