A Look Inside McNabb’s Contract Extension

Steve O Speak

First, I must say that this post has a much happier tone, compared to what I thought I’d be writing when I heard the news of the Donovan McNabb’s apparent 5 year $78 million deal. Now after everything is clarified, much of my anger has subsided. But I still believe there are some serious concerns with this deal, with both the reality of it and the spin created in the media.

Adam Schefter was the first to break down the real details of this deal, here is the break down of the new contract according to Schefter:

“Here is how the rest of the full deal breaks down, according to an NFLPA source:

• 2010: $3.5 million signing bonus/$250,000 if active eight games

• 2011: $10 million option bonus/$2.5 million salary/$750,000 if active 16 games/$250,000 workout/$2 million possible playoff incentives

• 2012: $12.75 million salary/$750,000 if active 16 games/$250,000 workout/$2 million possible playoff incentives

• 2013: $13 million salary/$1.5 million if active 16 games/$250,000 workout/$2 million possible playoff incentives

• 2014: $13.75 million salary/$3 million if active 16 games/$250,000 workout/$2 million possible playoff incentives

• 2015: $13.55 million salary/$2.25 million if active 16 games/$250,000 workout/$2 million possible playoff incentives”

The good news is the only thing guaranteed in this deal is the $3.5 million McNabb will be paid the rest of this year. This gives the Redskins the chance to back out of this deal at anytime, and doesn’t force them into any ‘dead money’ situations down the line. On the downside the Redskins are vastly overpaying McNabb, and that could affect them in terms of signing other major free agents.

Now look don’t get me wrong $3.5 million guaranteed is much easier to swallow than the $40 million that was reported, but I’m not going to call this a huge win for the Redskins to overpay McNabb. Many reporters and pundits are trying to call this firmly in the Redskins department as being a good thing, but it only looks that way compared to what the deal was first reported as. *Editors Note: I’m completely ignoring the playoff incentives because after last night’s performance, that shouldn’t even be in the discussion.

NFL analysts a lot of times talk about how guaranteed money is all that is really important in contracts, but that isn’t always entirely true. Yes guaranteed money is important, but you also have to look at expected earnings. If the base salary is extremely high and the player is expected to be on the roster it is all but guaranteed. Yes the Redskins can take this on a year-to-year basis, but each and every year they ‘agree’ (i.e. don’t cut him) they are then essentially turning that into guaranteed money and that is problematic, because they are still overpaying.

I think baring some drastic falling out the Redskins will pick up McNabb’s option bonus and salary next year (theoretically they could pick up the bonus and then trade him, but I don’t see that happening), meaning McNabb will account for $13.5 million against the cap next year. Is there anyone who can look at me with a straight face and say McNabb is worth that money? And what is scary is they will in all likelihood take on his 2012 salary as well.  I am in complete agreement with NFL.com’s Jason La Canfora that this is essentially a two year extension more or less guaranteed.

Now I realize plenty of people will want to argue that point and say that it really isn’t guaranteed, but can anyone really envision the Redskins getting out of this deal before 2012? If McNabb can have a completion percentage, 1st down percentage, and QB rating near the bottom of the league and he gets a pay raise this year and a new deal going forward; what would it take for them to get rid of him before either of the next two seasons? So for me I’m going to look at this as a 2-year extension and I will give him the bonuses for being on the active roster for the entire time (if he isn’t due to injury or ineffectiveness the Skins have bigger issues), as well as the workout bonues. I’m also not taking into account the $12 million plus he was already owed this year, since they assumed that risk a long time ago. In my eyes between his salary increase this year and his money for the next two years McNabb just netted $31 million or $15.5 million a year. Now it could be a million or two less based on workout bonuses and games played, but I think it is a fair estimate.

That is WAY too much money for McNabb (even if $3.75 million of it never counts against the cap) and it could hinder the Redskins ability to fix their roster with free agents who actually deserve their money. And that is why I’m against this deal even with the ridiculously low ‘guaranteed money’. McNabb might not have a lot of money ‘guaranteed’, but he has to know that at least the first 2 (if not 3) years of this deal will be picked up. And the reason that he knows this is that almost every fan and pundit was in his corner for his benching despite his subpar numbers. Also, considering that the youngest quarterback on this roster is John Beck (gulp) and the Redskins wasted two high picks to trade for McNabb, they aren’t in a great position to upgrade their quarterback spot (it’s possible, just not as easy as it should be). With knowing that, McNabb should have every assurance he needs to be one of the league’s highest paid quarterbacks.

The team did leave themselves with outs, which is good, but until they exercise them they are grossly overpaying for a quarterback who has been below average. There is a chance the Redskins could pick up McNabb’s $10 million option next season and decide to trade him (which would have good value since that team would only be on the hook for $3.5 million in base salary and incentives), but I’m not buying it. For one thing it would be a $10 million hit against the cap (and the check book), so I don’t know if you will get enough value to make it worth your while. Secondly despite his continued poor performances, the team seems to be generally okay with McNabb and I don’t see that changing. Shanahan has always been a ‘big-name’ quarterback type coach, so I don’t think he will take a chance on some team’s backup or an unheralded rookie (Colt McCoy cough..) to lead the Redskins (even if it probably is in the best interest of the team). I see McNabb here for at least two more years, and hopefully the talent around him steps up to the point to hide his deficiencies, otherwise this deal will set the Redskins back even further.

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