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30 percent rule still looms over uncapped year

With the salary cap disappearing in 2010, plenty of players still under contract might be looking for new deals.

If, after all, there’s no spending limit and fewer free agents are available and guys are operating under deals done when a cap was in place, some of them might expect a big raise.

But there’s a problem, as one league source pointed out in response to our recent suggestion that the decision of Steve Smith (the young, good one) to change agents could be a sign that he wants to strike it rich.

The 30 percent rule applies to the renegotiation of any contracts.

It means that the player’s salary in 2010 can’t be more than 30 percent greater than the player’s salary in 2009.  For players still operating under the minimum base salaries of a slotted rookie deal, that’s a problem.  A big problem.

But there’s a loophole.  NFL director of corporate communications Dan Masonson has confirmed for us that signing bonuses won’t count toward the 30 percent rule.  Still, it means that the bulk of a player’s compensation would have to be funneled to him via a signing bonus, with limited base salaries in future years.  While the player might be fine with that in 2010, the player might feel a lot differently in the out years of the deal.

Then there’s the looming lockout.  Why would a team want to front load a deal with a huge signing bonus in 2010 if there might be no football in 2011?  Every player who receives such a deal is one less player who will have to face the prospect of living game check to game check with no game check.

So keep an eye on this angle as the uncapped year begins.  Plenty of players under contract will want more money.  It’s unlikely that many will get it.

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15 Responses to “30 percent rule still looms over uncapped year”
  1. Child_Please! says: Feb 21, 2010 6:14 PM

    A big problem????? WTF!!
    I would love to have a 30% raise !!

  2. Sheriff04 says: Feb 21, 2010 6:17 PM

    See I never knew about that 30% rule.
    But is that just for players in a rookie contract, otherwise, I’m a bit confused if I understand it correctly.
    Lets take a guy like Chris Johnson. This is his 3rd year coming up. I don’t know his actual numbers but I think he probably had a base salary of 500k-1mil last year. I could be totally off but its probably in that ballpark.
    Now there were earlier reports about him wanting a new contract, and obviously once he signs a new deal, it will be alot of money. But 30% more of that is not even a million increase.
    1 000 000 turns into 1 300 000 increase. And the top players make atleast 5 and usually close to 10 mil or more.
    So my guess is this only refers to players in a rookie contract? Because if CJ signed a new deal now, he definately should be making a hell of a lot more than 1.3million as a base, even with all the incentives and signing bonus. Because 1.3 the next year doesn’t even turn into 2 million.
    This may actually be how it is, but I’ll tell you I sure didn’t notice it. So if anyone could kind of explain this in more detail I’d appreciate it. Thanks.

  3. I Registered To Post This says: Feb 21, 2010 6:17 PM

    Florio what is it with you and Steve Smith? Did he kill your family or something? Or can you just not connect the dots between his sub-par 2009 and being on a team that stubbornly insists on sticking with one of the most mind-numbingly awful quarterbacks in the league today?
    I will say that this was a nice departure from the usual “hurrr steve smith punches teammates” drivel that you mail in, however.

  4. BigMikey says: Feb 21, 2010 6:31 PM

    Ain’t nothing wrong with the old, great one Mr. Florio.

  5. Richierich420 says: Feb 21, 2010 6:47 PM

    If it only affects the 2010 salary they can increase the salary for the years in the future and pay the difference for 2010 in a signing bonus. How hard is that to figure out?

  6. Deb says: Feb 21, 2010 7:12 PM

    It’s obvious from some of the posturing that many of the players hear “uncapped” and assume it means the sky’s the limit. You’d hope their agents would put them wise, but an agent will tell them whatever they want to hear if it means securing a new client.
    For most players, the uncapped year won’t mean anything because most teams will continue working within their usual operating budgets. A couple of owners with deep pockets may decide to fill holes with big names. But only a few players will benefit and it won’t make any difference come February. So far there’s been no indication that throwing big bucks at star players is a way to win championships. The rude awakening will come for players whose owners don’t care about winning. Without a salary floor in place, those owners can play slash and burn, making the same amount on ticket sales and TV contracts while saving money on the salaries of players who don’t have other options.

  7. dcrespo24 says: Feb 21, 2010 7:54 PM

    Florio –
    the only money guaranteed to a player is the signing bonus, so of course the bulk of the contract will be the signing bonus, regardless of the 30% cap rule in effect for players under contract.
    As for players like Chris Johnson that “deserve” a raise, he will simply have to take more g-money now and see what happens in 2011. If there is a lockout, no one is going to get paid anything other than their signing bonus anyway.

  8. VegasChris says: Feb 21, 2010 8:09 PM

    Only 30%?
    See… that’s why I refuse to be an NFL player.

  9. Leo Crow says: Feb 21, 2010 8:12 PM

    I couldn’t care less about the Carolina Panthers but to imply that the elder Steve Smith is not good is ignorant beyond belief.

  10. Treima says: Feb 21, 2010 9:35 PM

    @I Registered to Post This:
    Oh, come on, Eli Manning’s not that bad.

  11. tdonegan says: Feb 22, 2010 12:08 AM

    “A big problem????? WTF!!
    I would love to have a 30% raise !!”
    Do you play for an NFL team? No? Are you an attraction that earns your company millions of dollars ever year? No? Do you risk a career-ending injury every day you go to work? No? Then it’s not the same thing.
    Guys under their rookie contract, especially if they were drafted after the second round, earn a good wage but if those players are starting for their team, they contribute far more than they earn every week. By signing a sub-market deal they’re undercutting themselves out of millions of dollars they should be earning–dollars that they likely won’t have the chance to ever earn again. Somehow I doubt you’ll lose 90% of your earning potential in the next five-ten years.

  12. ledgends0707 says: Feb 22, 2010 1:41 AM

    lol the “good steve smith”? Panthers Steve Smith has the WR triple crown, 50 receiving TDs and has been to the Pro Bowl 5 times. Florio..lol

  13. Adam says: Feb 22, 2010 3:38 AM

    I Registered To Post This says:
    February 21, 2010 6:17 PM
    Florio what is it with you and Steve Smith? Did he kill your family or something? Or can you just not connect the dots between his sub-par 2009 and being on a team that stubbornly insists on sticking with one of the most mind-numbingly awful quarterbacks in the league today?
    I will say that this was a nice departure from the usual “hurrr steve smith punches teammates” drivel that you mail in, however.
    Dummy, this is about Steve Smith of the Giants. Read the friggin article.

  14. I Registered To Post This says: Feb 22, 2010 8:54 AM

    Hey Adam, I’m sure you’re a well-meaning, presumably literate guy. As such, I will kindly suggest that you take your own advice and read the following sentence quoted from this very article:
    “But there’s a problem, as one league source pointed out in response to our recent suggestion that the decision of Steve Smith (the young, good one) to change agents could be a sign that he wants to strike it rich.”
    Gee, I wonder what that could possibly mean?

  15. BIG BLUE in tx says: Feb 22, 2010 9:46 AM

    I love Steve Smith (the young, good one), but what happened that everyone hates the very good Steve Smith? The young one is being thrown to by a much better qb but the old one is still putting up good numbers and hasn’t lost a step despite a horrible qb.

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