As soon as the dust settles on any significant NFL contract these days, such as the one that Doug Baldwin signed with the Seahawks today (details here), the next questions concern whether it was a good deal for the player and team, and how it will impact the team going forward.
The consensus of two salary cap experts is that the contract Baldwin signed today — a two-year extension that will pay Baldwin $13 million over three years with incentives that could take it up to more than $19 million, and with $8.5 million guaranteed — is a good one for both player and team.
Joel Corry, a former NFL player agent who now writes for CBSSports.com, explained why he thinks this is a good deal for Baldwin this way:
“I think it’s a good deal for Baldwin because he made less than $1.5 million his first three years for him to make $13 million over the next three, that’s $500,000 less than (Philadelphia receiver) Riley Cooper’s cash flow in his deal. The upside in the deal, he has incentives in it so he can make more. But this is what I call ‘a bridge deal’ because he only gave up two years of unrestricted free agency. So as an agent I would value the deal when I was looking at it that ‘okay, if he did nothing he could play for $2.187 million, so what amount of money would I need in order to make it worth it to give up the unrestricted years?’ So the two unrestricted years are valued at $5.46 million — that’s the average value of those two years. So if you look at the deal from that perspective it’s a good deal for Doug Baldwin. And then when you look at that fact that he’s going to get another bite at the apple because he will be an unrestricted free agent when he’s 28, going on 29. You can’t argue with what he did. As long as Doug Baldwin keeps progressing as a player, a short-term deal is going to work to his advantage.”
Jason Fitzgerald of OvertheCap.com also said the deal is a good move for the Seahawks.
Said Fitzgerald: “It’s a smart move locking up Baldwin this offseason. He was the one certain piece in the passing game. Golden Tate is gone, Paul Richardson is an unknown, and Percy Harvin and Sidney Rice are both injury risks. If Harvin went down again, Baldwin likely would have been in a position to be a 1,000 yard receiver. That would have made him a far more expensive player for the Seahawks if they waited the contract out. The bottom line is they kept their salary
cap in very good shape and should not have compromised anything by making the move.”
Indeed, as Fitzgerald mentions at the end of that comment, each said that the Seahawks left themselves in good salary cap shape while still getting some significant signings done this off-season with Baldwin on top of the earlier deals with Richard Sherman, Earl Thomas and Michael Bennett.
Specifically, each said Seattle is in good shape to re-up quarterback Russell Wilson after the 2014 season, the earliest the team can re-do his deal.
Said Fitzgerald: “I don’t have the exact Baldwin salary cap numbers just yet, but considering he was already counting for $2.187 million against the cap it should not have a dramatic impact on their cap this year. Assuming Baldwin carries around a $4 million cap figure in 2015 that would leave the Seahawks with, conservatively, $20 million in cap room to play with and that figure is based on no growth in the salary cap. Projections are in the $140 million range so realistically its around $30 million, which is plenty to do whatever kind of deal they want with Wilson.”
Said Corry: “Seattle should be in good shape cap-wise next year because I’m going to assume it’s going to go up the same 8.13 percent that it did this year, or more. So at a minimum the cap is $144 million. Before Baldwin’s deal they were sitting at $113 million for their top 51 players, so that’s going to put them in great shape and they could have some carry-0over room, as well. So they are going to have plenty of room to take care of Russell Wilson. That won’t be a problem. What may be a prolem is that if everything goes the way Seattle wants it to and he is a two-time Super Bowl champion at quarterback, even if he isn’t the engine driving the train, they may have to make him the highest-paid player in football, But that’d be a nice problem to have. … Russell is the big one they’ve got to save money for. I’ve seen people say ‘Russell’s not going to be greedy’ and I’m like ‘c’mon now.’ Name one football player that isn’t going to try to maximize his leverage on his first real chance to make big money? So I don’t buy that. ”
Corry also said he thinks the Seahawks were one of the winners of the off-season in terms of how they used their available cap space.
“They are one of the teams in my mind that benefited most in using cap room wisely when the cap unexpectedly went up to $133 million from $128-130. That extra cap room, Seattle has done a great job of using it wisely because they got their two big guys out of the way (Earl Thomas and Richard Sherman) and they were able to get Baldwin as well. You’ve got to commend Seattle for what they have done.’’