During the free agency period, fans will often hear contract numbers thrown around - 4 years, 40 Million for instance - and wonder what that really means for the player and for the team. As with many things in life, contracts in the NFL are one thing on the surface and another thing in practice. Well, we at the Falcoholic are here to try and help clear up the situation especially with all of the signings in recent days. We'll keep this article updated as more information rolls in. Where applicable, information provided by OverTheCap.com.
Current Cap Situation
As of this writing, the Falcons have somewhere between 10 to 12 million in cap space. Right now, we don't know the contract details of Sean Weatherspoon and Derrick Shelby but we can make educated guesses (which we'll do below).
On June 2nd, the Falcons will free up 5.4M in additional cap space when the Paul Soliai contract "comes off the books." The Falcons can still designate one more player as a "June 2nd" cut (teams are allowed 2 per year) and that may happen depending on who else they sign in the coming days/weeks. Tyson Jackson is a prime candidate, due to the 4.75 million the team would get in cap room if they designate him as such.
Typically, the Falcons have liked to carry between 7 to 10M in free cap space into the season. This space is used to sign veterans during the season (in case of injury or cuts) and also to cover any escalators various players on the team may have (like a bonus for making the Pro Bowl). The team will also need somewhere between 4 to 6M for rookie contracts as well. Given that, the team can probably still allocate between 2 to 6M of cap to additional players this year. In other words, don't expect any more "splash" signings at this point.
Individual Cap Hits
What about the cap hits for recently signed players? Well, here's what we know so far:
2016 Cap hit: $4,050,000
This comes from his 1.75M base salary and his 11.5M signing bonus pro-rated over 5 years ($2.3M/yr). His 2017 cap rises to $9,050,000 with a 6.75M base salary. His salary in 2016 is guaranteed and if he's on the roster in 2017, his 2019 salary becomes fully guaranteed (don't ask, I don't know).
2016 Cap hit: $2,400,000
Sanu's cap figure comes from his 1M base salary and his 7M signing bonus pro-rated over 5 years ($1.4M/yr). His 2017 cap rises to 7.4M with a 6M base salary. His salary in 2016 and 2017 are fully guaranteed, which is how you arrive at his 14M guaranteed money figure (2016 1M salary + 2017 6M salary + 7M signing bonus).
2016 Cap hit: $3,000,000
Clayborn's cap figure comes from his 1.75M base salary and 2.5M signing bonus pro-rated over 2 years ($1.25M/yr). His 2017 cap rises to 5.5M with a 3.75M base salary and a $500,000 roster bonus - which leads me to believe only his first year salary is fully guaranteed.
Derrick Shelby (projected)
Vaugh McClure of ESPN reported that Shelby got a 4 year deal with 7.5 million guaranteed and a 5M signing bonus. Given those numbers, we already know the pro-rated bonus will hit the cap each year for 1.25M. The remaining 2.5M of the 7.5M guarantee is either 1) his base salary for 2016, which would mean a 2016 cap figure of 3.75M OR 2) a guaranteed salary in 2016 AND 2017, which would probably mean a 2016 base salary of 1M for a 2016 cap figure of 2.25M. My bet is that he's getting option 2, since this is a 4 year deal.
Sean Weatherspoon (projected)
Though we don't yet have the details, it seems unlikely the contract is for anything more than around the league minimum. I would expect the cap hit to be less than 1M for 2016, with incentives built in for playing time and performance goals.
Your thoughts on the Falcons cap situation right now?