Friday new$ and note$

Moss’s enhanced season

The fact that Randy Moss will very likely be the only player to play 17 games this season – and only the 6th player to do so since the bye week was instituted in 1990 – raises some interesting questions.

NFL players are paid in equal installments of their salary over 17 (16 games plus the bye) weekly checks. The bye week, for salary purposes, is treated as any other week. Thus, Moss will make exactly what he was scheduled to make as a Patriot, $6.4 million, though will play 17 games for that money as opposed to 16.

Although I’ve confirmed that Moss does not have incentives in his contract for this year, the 17 games raises an interesting hypothetical. What if, for instance, a player in this situation had an incentive for 70 receptions and after 16 games had 68 receptions and then caught another three in his 17th game? Would he receive his bonus? My sense is that he absolutely would, unless the contract specified the bonus having to be earned in 16 games, which is unlikely.

Moss’s enhanced season segues to the proposed 18-game enhanced season. Contrary to some thought, players will not receive an extra two prorated amounts of salary. Rather, they will receive their negotiated salary – presumably larger due to the increased revenues from two more games raising each team’s spending limit – over 18 weeks plus the bye week(s) rather than the present 17 weeks.

Finally on Moss, he did receive a clause inserted in his existing contract – set to expire after this season – that the Vikings would not place the Franchise or Transition tag on him for 2011. The fact the Vikings did that is relatively innocuous in regard to Moss – they were not going to place the tag on a player as emotional as he anyway – but did set a precedent for other agents and players to bring up in their future negotiations, something the team will have to explain away as a special situation (like the special circumstances for the player throwing Moss the ball).

Marshawn’s a bargain

The trade of Marshawn Lynch to the Seahawks is an illustration of the lopsided nature of first-round contracts and the disproportionate financial obligations between the trading team and the acquiring team.

As to the football side of the transaction, the trade reflects the longtime interest in Lynch by Seahawks general manager John Schneider. John and I were at the Packers during the 2007 Draft and Lynch was rated highly, with Schneider (and college teammate Aaron Rodgers) championing his cause. Now Schneider, at the helm of the Seahawks, has his man with the bulk of his contract having been paid by Buffalo. Let’s look at it:

2007: The Bills paid Lynch a signing bonus of over $3 million, a $735,000 roster bonus and a $285,000 salary, totaling over $4 million.

2008: The Bills paid Lynch a $4.5 million option bonus along with a $375,000 salary. Lynch also had a $1.759 one-time incentive for minimum performance thresholds that was backed up by future salary guarantees.

2009-2010: The Bills paid Lynch a $630,000 2009 salary and $200,000 for the first four weeks of the 2010 season.

Now, the Seahawks take over the contract with the following left on the deal:

2010: $685,000
2011: $1.14 million.

Lynch also has a fifth-year escalator in 2011, although he has not achieved the performance to earn those levels.

Thus, of the $13.3 million on Lynch’s five-year rookie contract, the Bills have paid 86% of the deal, or $11.43 million, with the Seahawks on the hook for only $1.86 million.

The Seahawks did take another financial hit due to the trade, though. With Lynch coming in, Julius Jones went out. Jones had previously cut his salary in half to stay on the roster, going from $2.5 to $1.25 million. He will now file for termination pay for the unpaid portion of that salary, or $956,000. Jones will thus make almost $300,000 more than Lynch this year for not playing for the Seahawks.

All in all, though, the Seahawks got a player they had their eye on for some time, with very limited financial risk in doing so.

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