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Tate’s base deal pays out a lot less than reported

Tate AP

When it comes to free agency, the reporting of contract numbers often goes like this:  (1) the agent leaks a number higher than the actual value of the contract; (2) the real numbers eventually get filed with the NFL and the NFLPA; and (3) by the time the real numbers are available, everyone has moved on.

Just like pre-free agency tampering, which everyone does because everyone else does it, agents justify puffing contract numbers by explaining everyone else does it.  Contrary to popular belief, however, not everyone else does it.  So we’re going to point it out when it happens, especially if the false numbers have been mentioned more than once or twice in this space.

For new Browns running back Ben Tate, regarded as the top running back in the 2014 class of veteran free agents, it has been reported that he signed a two-year deal worth “about” $7 million.  That puts his annual rate at (about) $3.5 million, matching the money paid to Toby Gerhart by the Jaguars and Donald Brown by the Chargers.

Here’s the truth on Tate, based on numbers provided to the NFLPA.

He gets a signing bonus of $1.5 million and a fully-guaranteed 2014 base salary of $1 million.  He also can earn $46,875 for each game on the active roster in 2014, which can result in another $750,000.  For 2015, the base salary moves to $2.2 million, and another $750,000 can be made via the same per-game roster bonuses.

That’s a base value of $4.7 million over two years, with another $1.5 million available — but only if he suits up for 32 regular-season games.  And while another $1 million in incentives are available, it’s not a two-year deal worth “about” $7 million.  It’s a two-year, $6.2 million deal if he plays in 32 games.  And with no guarantees beyond 2014, if could be a one-year, $2.5 million deal, if Tate suffers a serious injury before Week One.

We know what you’re thinking.  If there’s that much fluff in Tate’s deal, what about Gerhart’s and Brown’s?  For Gerhart, the base value is indeed $10.5 million over three years, with no per-game roster bonuses.  For Brown, the base value also is $3.5 million per year over three, with a total base value of $10.5 million and no per-game roster bonuses.

So why would Tate’s deal be exaggerated?  Since he was considered to be the top running back in free agency, failure to get as much as Gerhart or Brown reflects poorly on Tate’s agents — and it will be used against them in recruiting future clients.

If that happens, it’s not fair.  The agents in most cases get the best deals that they can.  Tate, while talented, is regarded as a guy who isn’t durable; he has missed 24 regular-season games in four NFL seasons.  Also, there simply weren’t many teams interested in Tate.  Beyond Cleveland, demand was low to nonexistent.

Of course, the agents fairly should be criticized for putting out phony numbers.  For Gerhart and Brown, the numbers are initially reported were accurate.  For Tate, they were exaggerated.

Since the truth always comes out, why not just tell the truth in the first place?

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17 Responses to “Tate’s base deal pays out a lot less than reported”
  1. puckthefatriots says: Mar 30, 2014 12:39 PM

    He’s worth a lot less than reported.

  2. anonymous135 says: Mar 30, 2014 12:50 PM

    Honesty is my policy… just hope others can follow your lead.

    Would serve the world well.

  3. thestrategyexpert says: Mar 30, 2014 12:52 PM

    If the agents get the best deal they can then there wouldn’t be much reason to have multiple agents. It’s just like coaches in the NFL, every team has coaches, but if you have a coach who is slightly better it makes a very relevant difference. A small percentage edge may not be discernible to the eye, i.e. you can’t watch baseball and automatically tell who is a .260 hitter versus .270, it’s not obvious to the naked eye, but that differential has a very real and measurable value. It’s a game of inches, and the skills of an agent can definitely affect the outcome. Better to spend your time focusing on finding the best agent you can for you rather than analyzing the nature of it.

  4. ken0west says: Mar 30, 2014 1:00 PM

    Men lie, Women Lie, numbers don’t.

  5. Wineshard says: Mar 30, 2014 1:04 PM

    He may have been the best FA RB on the market, but you said it yourself – he isn’t durable. A per game roster bonus is a good compromise. You can be Barry Sanders, but if you ain’t playin they ain’t payin.

  6. mapedog1 says: Mar 30, 2014 1:24 PM

    The other teams all know that not only has Tate only been able to be healthy an average of 10 games per year, he also has fumbled as many times as he has scored touchdowns in 4 years (10 of each). There’s gotta be 100 former college RBs out in the world who can stay healthier and score more than they fumble. Browns have to get who they can get, though; especially after the clownery this offseason.

  7. attorneyfootballtalk says: Mar 30, 2014 1:28 PM

    Buy Low, Sell High… All of these running backs should have signed one year deals and tried again next year.

  8. dirtdawg54 says: Mar 30, 2014 1:41 PM

    But it is a two year contract worth about $7 million. The only part they left out was “if he hits certain incentives”. They didn’t exaggerate the terms of the contract; they just weren’t as transparent as they could have been.

  9. amazingguy101 says: Mar 30, 2014 1:54 PM

    Making me wonder if Vikings overpaid A.P. Coming from a Vikings fan…

  10. mymanmccoy says: Mar 30, 2014 2:01 PM

    A win for the Browns!

  11. billyburley says: Mar 30, 2014 2:50 PM

    The greatest ability is availability.

  12. jerruhjones says: Mar 30, 2014 3:24 PM

    That’s what a smart GM will do you for…

    Go Farmer!

    Go Tate!

    Go Browns!!!

  13. bigwinintx says: Mar 30, 2014 4:10 PM

    THAT’S why Houston didn’t offer him a contract: DURABILITY ISSUES.

    He may have gutted out the last part of this past season with a rib injury to run for a contract, but he’s been often hurt here and that’s the bottom line.
    If you’re going for a number two guy to back up Foster, then you want someone as durable or more than the lead back to spell him on third down or short stands in the Red Zone.

    Good luck Browns’ fans, this guy most likely ain’t gonna hit that game’s played bonus clause.

  14. brownsmakemecrazy says: Mar 30, 2014 7:48 PM

    Hope the Browns realize they still need to draft a beast RB. This guy has proven 3 things, 1.) Hes a solid running back, 2.) hes not durable, and 3.) he fumbles alot.

    They need 1 of these 3, Jeremy Hill from LSU, Tre Mason from Auburn or Carlos Hyde from Ohio St.

    I wouldnt count on Dion Lewis coming off of a broken stick.

  15. burgandy2260 says: Mar 30, 2014 10:21 PM

    I think they should just keep it basic when releasing it to the public. All the contract info should be released by the NFL so there’s no mishap. Besides, why would the players want their business out there? Look at poor DJ Williams. The BEARS have gotten him for cheap 2 straight yrs. But his salary is a joke for his talent.

  16. oldcracker says: Mar 30, 2014 10:24 PM

    First time I’ve heard of my Browns using sense and doing things right. I hope it works out for everyone.

    I would still like to see a legitimate FB, or a big bruising RB like Peyton Hillis to punch holes for RB Tate, and whomever we draft. I watched RB Carlos Hyde while at OSU, and he is indeed a power beast.

  17. natelan69 says: Mar 30, 2014 10:59 PM

    As a Chargers fan, the Brown signing still confuses me, with Mathews and Woodhead on the roster…

    Correct contract, wrong team. Great player, wrong team. Important position, wrong team. We needed CB’s.

    But whatever, happy to have him and hope I’m wrong.

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