Initially, the idea of an uncapped year sounded terrific. The thoughts that ran rampantly through my mind were, if a team chose to do so, they could pretty much sign whomever they want so long as they had the financial backing to honor the contracts agreed upon.
Enter the new rules that accompany an uncapped year. Wow! So obviously, that is not the case, and I am left back-peddling on what I thought was a great idea.
Like most of us, I have become very familiar with the rules regarding most everything, when there is a Collective bargaining Agreement in place, and teams have to stay under a salary cap. I also became to complacent with that knowledge, never believing there would come a time that the NFL wouldn’t have a salary cap in place.
When the CBA was allowed to expire, the rules literally changed overnight.
“Final Eight” teams — teams that made it to the divisional round of the playoffs — are restricted from acquiring certain big-name free agents, unless they lose a player of the same or greater contract value.
That’s easy enough, right? In the NFL? No way, man! There has to be more to it than that, and there is. To accompany that rule, there was some kind of — for lack of better words — clause that a team could sign a player that was under contract and released by a team without breaking the rules…Or something along those lines. I’m still learning this new way of life in the NFL, and it’s a tongue twister at times.
So to get to where I intend for this story to go, the new rules are now affecting our Panthers, and two of the young stars on the team, center Ryan Kalil and running back DeAngelo Williams.
Here comes another new rule: The “30 Percent Rule.”
What this is, is a rule that restricts teams from locking up rising star players that are currently in the last year of their contracts, or with expiring contracts. Essentially, they have to become an unrestricted free agent before the team can sign them to a new deal.
In Carolina’s case, if the Panthers want to offer Kalil or Williams a new deal right now, they can. But there’s the catch. They can only increase their current contract by 30 percent.
The new rule affects a player’s base salary, but has no restriction on the signing bonuses.
So in essence, what the Panthers would only be able to do, is increase Kalil’s contract by 30 percent of his current base salary of $519,000. That would give him $153,000 more, setting that — $663,000 — as his new base salary.
To further help, I found this article by Charles Chandler of the Charlotte Observer, where Chandler is able to explain it better than I can.
“A market-rate, five-year, $30 million deal for Kalil beginning at a $663,000 base salary this season would top out at a $1.275 million base in 2014. His base pay would total $4.845million for the life of the deal, requiring the Panthers to give him a signing bonus of more than $25million to get to the market rate.
Williams’ basis for determining his base pay is a 2009 figure of $1.61million, 30 percent of which is $483,000. His base salaries in a five-year, $45 million deal would total $15.295 million, leaving nearly $30 million to be paid via signing bonus.”
Again, there is no restriction set on the amount of signing bonus, which is pretty much guaranteed money up-front. So what sense does it really make at this time, when the factors outside of the contract could totally make the contract worthless; i.e. injury, career-ending injury, poor performance, etc?
It’s a simple case of over-inflation.
As the new rules state, this rule does not apply to restricted free agents whose contracts have expired, which means the Panthers can freely negotiate with outside-linebacker Thomas Davis,
With the new rules in place, a player used to become an unrestricted free agent after his fourth season. Now, the new rules dictate six years of experience before a player can enter the unrestricted free agency pool. Kalil is beginning his fourth season, and Williams will be starting his fifth season.