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McNabb’s real guarantee? $3.5 million

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Those of you who follow the business side of football have figured out the formula that applies to the reporting of high-profile contracts.

First, someone reports the fact that the deal was signed.  As part of the loose, unspoken quid pro quo that comes with “being first,” the reporter holds his or her nose and parrots the numbers that the agent is pushing, without scrutiny or confirmation.  (Hey, if that reporter won’t do it, another one will.)

Second, at least a day or two later, someone else reports the true numbers, which almost always are less — and in some cases dramatically less — than the initial report.

Usually, the first report and the second report come from reporters who work for different news organizations.  In the case of Donovan McNabb’s contract extension, the initial phony report and the accurate follow-up report come from reporters who work for the same company.

On Monday, ESPN’s Michael Smith reported that McNabb and the Redskins “have agreed to a five year extension, worth 78 million, 40 guaranteed.”

No one believed that McNabb was getting $40 million guaranteed.  But since Smith and ESPN wanted to be first to report the news of the extension, they passed along the phony contract numbers on a don’t ask/don’t tell basis.

Now, Adam Schefter of ESPN reports that McNabb’s deal includes only $3.5 million in guaranteed money.

So Smith and ESPN were wrong, to the tune of $36.5 million.  And now Schefter and ESPN are right.

McNabb can get another $10 million in the form of a 2011 option bonus, if the Redskins opt to pay it.  If the team that decided to bench McNabb for Rex Grossman only 15 days ago decides after Week 17 that Donovan isn’t the long-term answer, McNabb will be traded or cut.

Beyond that, McNabb has non-guaranteed base salaries of $2.5 million in 2011, $12.75 million in 2012, $13 million in 2013, $13.75 million in 2014, and $13.55 million in 2015.  The total base salaries for No. 5 over five years?  $55.55 million.

He can also earn roster bonuses of $250,000 in 2010, $750,000 in 2011, $750,000 in 2012, $1.5 million in 2013, $3 million in 2014, and $2.25 million in 2015 if he’s on the active roster for each game in each year.  That’s another $8.5 million.  To get to that number, however, McNabb has to not miss a single game due to injury.  In five years.

So it’s not a $78 million contract.  And it’s not even close to $40 million guaranteed.

Usually, the puffed-up guaranteed money has some semi-plausible basis in fact.  In this case, even if we somehow treat the option bonus as guaranteed (which it most definitely isn’t), Smith’s report is $27.5 million off.

It’ll be interesting to see how ESPN harmonizes these two reports.  Actually, ESPN won’t even try, since there’s no way to harmonize these two reports.

Besides, ESPN finally has realized that, in the absence of conscience, it’s entirely possible to break the initial story of the long-term deal with the phony numbers, to follow up with the real numbers, and to then hope that 99 percent of the audience never notices the glaring discrepancy.

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19 Responses to “McNabb’s real guarantee? $3.5 million”
  1. gooboy6 says: Nov 16, 2010 11:20 AM

    ESPN = TMZ

  2. pedsaregoodforsports says: Nov 16, 2010 11:25 AM

    WHY he signed ANY contract with them, when he could go to Minn or Az and play with better players is beyond me.

    I guess he wants to beat the Eagles….oh wait, what happened last night?

    Yeah Donny, smart move.

  3. alewatcher says: Nov 16, 2010 11:37 AM

    The large print giveth, and the small print taketh away. $3.5 million is a lot more believable than $40 million for a 34 year old QB. Still too much, given what he’s done so far, but at least it’s not just flat-out batsh!t crazy. Even Al Davis must have been going, WTF?

  4. mathguy2 says: Nov 16, 2010 11:39 AM

    3.5M guaranteed
    + 10M 2011 option bonus
    + 55.55M non-guaranteed base salaries
    + 8.5M per-game roster bonuses
    ————
    77.55M total

    That seems tolerably close to the reported $78M topline number.

  5. skinzfan7 says: Nov 16, 2010 11:46 AM

    Uhh, it’s a brilliant move by McNabb. He’ll continue to suck so the Redskins won’t resign him. He’ll get an extra 3.5 million and then move on to Minn or Az and start winning again.

  6. pukey60 says: Nov 16, 2010 11:46 AM

    Destined to play back up for Vick. How ironic is that?

  7. cleverbob says: Nov 16, 2010 11:50 AM

    Methinks McNabb will be wearing a new uniform in 2011.

  8. geemoney713 says: Nov 16, 2010 11:59 AM

    @mathguy2

    The reason it isn’t close to 78M is cause they’ll only pay that much if they want to keep him. It’s likely they won’t hang on to him for 5 years at that pay.

  9. mathguy2 says: Nov 16, 2010 12:13 PM

    @geemoney713: I agree that McNabb won’t get all $78M. My point is that while I agree with Florio about the guarantee — I can’t see any way to read a $40M guarantee into those numbers — I disagree with him when he says
    “So it’s not a $78 million contract.”
    It *is* a $78M contract… in exactly the same sense that Tom Brady’s 4-year extension this year is a $72M contract.

  10. ineptguy6 says: Nov 16, 2010 12:15 PM

    Any amount above league minimum is too much considering his play.

    BTW Steelers just released Reed and Signed Suisam(sp?)

  11. blackqbwhiterb says: Nov 16, 2010 12:24 PM

    Thank God they didn’t really think he was going to be the guy for the next 5 years…..Now hopefully they draft Locker, or Dalton, or somebody good and MORE LINEMEN for Pete’s sake…….

  12. chapnastier says: Nov 16, 2010 12:31 PM

    “He’ll get an extra 3.5 million and then move on to Minn or Az and start winning again.”

    Winning AGAIN? Good lord.

  13. casophonic says: Nov 16, 2010 12:38 PM

    Why would they want him when he sucks?
    And why would he want to stay when he could throw to Fitzgerald or Crabtree or Harvin?
    Here’s why – If no deal is struck between the Players Union and the Owners, there is no marketplace in March for Donovan to shop himself or for Snyder to find some other lame-ass to overpay. If the standoff runs into training camp, there is not enough time for the Skins or Donnie to settle in with another party.
    Both sides are protecting themselves – if the labor deal gets done, I bet they dump him.

  14. kellyb9 says: Nov 16, 2010 12:47 PM

    @mathguy2 – Guaranteed money is all that matters in the NFL. He’ll never see the rest of it.

  15. finfanbernie says: Nov 16, 2010 1:09 PM

    Usually, the puffed-up guaranteed money has some semi-plausible basis in fact. In this case, even if we somehow treat the option bonus as guaranteed (which it most definitely isn’t), Smith’s report is $27.5 million off.

    55.55 + 8.5 = 64.05 – 78 =13.95
    55.55 + 8.5 +10 = 74.05 – 78 = 3.95

    There isnt away that it equals 78 million but I dont see how you get 27.5 million off

  16. nygiantstones says: Nov 16, 2010 1:15 PM

    The NFL (media coverage, Head Coach quotes, etc.) is like the Government. They tell big enough lies in the hopes that 99% of the population believes them; and they do. Same as any other mass media type of event. Tell the masses there’s a God, tell the masses McNabb got 40 mill guaranteed. It’s all the same.

  17. laffers says: Nov 16, 2010 1:16 PM

    I don’t believe that he signed for a 3.5 guarantee!

  18. knightringonow says: Nov 16, 2010 1:37 PM

    @gooboy6 says: Nov 16, 2010 11:20 AM
    ESPN = TMZ

    ya know what, gooboy6? I have never once ever heard a retraction from TMZ. Not once ever. ESPN? Once a day. Blow it out your arse.

  19. pandebailey says: Nov 16, 2010 3:59 PM

    Can we please stop calling the NFL work agreements “contracts”? A contract is typically a binding agreement – “You work, and I pay – no options”.

    In the NFL, its “You must work for me, but I can fire you and walk away anytime I like”. That’s not what anyone thinks of as a “contract”. They are one-sided work agreements.

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