Butler’s seven-year deal is actually three with a significant option payment

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When no details had emerged regarding the contract signed by linebacker Donald Butler with the Chargers, the silence was either attributed to the deal not being a great one — or Butler not wanting every relative, friend, and/or acquaintance asking for money.

The ultimate explanation could be a little of both.

Per a league source, Butler’s deal covers seven years.  It has a total value of $51.8 million.

But only (only?) $11.15 million is guaranteed at signing.  After three seasons, another balloon payment is due, in the form of a $12 million option bonus.

So the Chargers can walk away after paying $15.15 million over two years, in the form of a $750,000 base salary for 2014 and a non-guaranteed base salary of $3.25 million for 2015.  Alternatively, they can pay another $4.65 million in 2016 and extend it to a three-year, $19.8 million contract.

On the fifth day after the Super Bowl played in the 2016 league year (i.e., in February 2017), the $12 million option bonus comes due.  If it’s paid, the final four years kick in, at base salaries of $4 million in 2017, $4.65 million in 2018, $5.35 million in 2019, and $6 million in 2020.

The cap numbers are $2.98 million in 2014, $5.48 million in 2015, $9.28 million in 2016, $8.63 million in 2017, $9.28 million in 2018, and $7.75 million in 2020.

Ultimately, Butler will play at least two years and possibly three under this contract.  After that, the Charges will have to decide whether to write a check for $12 million and pick up the final four years of the deal.