For those who weren't aware, both Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas reached long-term extensions with their respective teams on Wednesday - coming in just before the deadline for franchise tagged players. Many people thought that the Falcons were waiting to see how these contracts played out before beginning the negotiations with Julio's agents. Now that those numbers are in, how might it impact Julio and his looming extension with the Falcons?
The Bryant and Thomas Numbers
In what should be considered a miraculous turn of events, both Bryant and Thomas got extremely similar deals. Bryant was first, receiving the 5 year, 70M contract. It has 45M in guaranteed money, with a 20M signing bonus. His first year will give him 23M guaranteed (3M salary, 20M bonus) while he'll get the remaining guaranteed money in the second year of the deal.
Shortly thereafter, Thomas also received a 5 year, 70M contract. His guarantee appears to be slightly lower at 43.5M. Though the details of this contract aren't yet available, it's likely that they are similar in structure to what Bryant got.
The Julio Investment
Lets' be clear about one thing: there's no way the Falcons aren't going to get Julio locked up for the long-term. After investing two first round picks (amongst others) into him, there's simply no way the franchise will walk away from him now - injury prone or not.
The question about whether Julio is better than Dez Bryant is irrelevant. The real question is whether he's top-5 at his position (he is) and whether he's important to the team (he is). That is what will ultimately set the market for him.
Julio's Potential Numbers
The easiest number to predict is what the average yearly number will be. I fully expect it to be between 13.5-14.5M. This number isn't nearly as important as the guaranteed money and the signing bonus.
With Thomas getting 43.5M guaranteed, that would appear to be the floor. The Falcons are essentially already locked in for 23M in guarantees for Julio through 2016 (10.2M this year, 13M for a franchise tag in 2016). So, going up to 45M is really only an additional 22M guaranteed. The 45 sounds far more intimidating than it really is. Julio's agents will likely want to meet or exceed that 45, while the Falcons will likely want to keep that number closer to 40. In this case, I think Julio's side will likely win out.
As for the structure, I would expect the Falcons to front load more of the deal. They currently have 16M in cap space (with Julio already counting as 10M to the 2015 cap), so offering him a bigger year 1 salary to take more of the cap hit now would be sensible and make it easier to extend someone like Desmond Trufant when the time comes. A first year salary of 16M would leave the team with 10M in cap space, but also take a nice bite out of the initial set of guaranteed money. Since you can only spread a signing bonus out over 5 years, the deal is likely to be a 5 year deal with no more than 20M in the form of a signing bonus.
Ultimately, the biggest impact of the Thomas and Bryant contracts will be this: the Julio deal will get done soon. In fact, I'd be surprised if we don't see him signed within the next week or two. For a team that is short on superstars, it would be nice to get one of our best wrapped up before the season begins.
What do you think about the looming extension for Julio?