Derrick Shelby's deal has a very simple structure. It's a $5 million signing bonus combined with base salaries that are guaranteed for the first two years of $1 million and $3 million. After the first two years, the salaries are not guaranteed at valuations of $4.5 million. He also has the ability to hit escalators each year that would increase the salaries of the following year by $1 million. It totals out as a four-year deal worth anywhere from $18 million to $21 million.
Shelby's cap hits are very manageable each year at $2.25 million in 2016, $4.25 million in 2017 and then $5.75 million in 2017 and 2018. Should he hit his escalators—which would mean a ton of production—he'll raise his cap hits in 2017, 2018 or 2019 depending on when he hits those escalators. For the money, Shelby should prove to be a great value within the Falcons scheme, as he'll play a role similar to what Michael Bennett played for Dan Quinn in Seattle.
In all reality, Shelby signed a two-year deal that should allow him to cash in and make money similar to what John Abraham did on his contract with the Falcons. His impact on and off the field should allow him to do so. When projecting contracts this offseason, it looked like the Falcons were going to have to overpay if they truly wanted Shelby due to his comparison as a poor man's Cameron Wake. Considering contract and potential production, Atlanta's best signing this offseason was Shelby.