On the surface, Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford’s new contract suggests that he’ll be in Philly for two more seasons at $18 million per year, especially since $26 million of it is “guaranteed.”
But like so many of the deals that will be done over the next two weeks, only the official details will tell the full story of what a deal is worth and, more importantly, how many years of it definitely will be honored by the team.
If, for example, Bradford is due to make $13 million in 2016 (with the payment fully guaranteed) and $23 million in 2017 (with $13 million of it guaranteed for injury only at signing), it’s a one-year, $13 million deal with a team option for the second year.
That’s just an example, not an attempt to characterize the actual deal. Still, it’s impossible to know how good (or bad) of a deal it is without knowing how much of the deal is fully guaranteed at signing, and how much will be paid in 2016 and in 2017.
Reporting general “guarantees” is meaningless, since the only true guarantee is money that’s fully guaranteed. (Actually, with the ability of teams to void guarantees in the event of on- or off-field misconduct, the only really true guarantee is a signing bonus.) Still, folks will continue to report true and not-true guarantees as “guarantees” generally, without an explanation or disclaimer that “guaranteed” money isn’t actually guaranteed.
Eventually, the real numbers will become available, for Bradford’s deal and all others. But by the time the real numbers are available, with the real guarantees and the real structure, the dust will have settled and the impression will have been created that the deal is better than perhaps it really is.
For Bradford, even with only a two-year deal, it’s impossible to know whether it’s a true $18 million per year deal or whether the second year is fluff without looking at the real terms.
Whatever the specific structure and true guarantees, it’s safe to assume Bradford didn’t sign the contract without knowing his market. And he knew his market because his agent was able to find out from other teams at the Scouting Combine what the market was.
The real numbers will give a very real picture on how real the market was for the last No. 1 overall pick who got a real payday after being drafted, six years ago.