NFL player contracts often include roster bonuses due early in the offseason.  The goal is to force the team to make a quick decision as to whether the player is in the plans for the coming year.
Since base salaries typically aren’t guaranteed, a team can squat on a player long after the free-agency market has evaporated, and then cut him at a time when it’s too late either to get paid or to get prepared to be successful on a new roster.
Every once in a while, the team pays the bonus and then makes the ultimate decision later.  The Titans, for example, once paid running back Eddie George a $1 million roster bonus in March 2004, only to release him later in the offseason.
This year, Browns quarterback Derek Anderson is due to receive a $5 million roster bonus in March.  The widespread thinking is that they’ll try to trade him before the bonus comes due, because the only alternative is to cut him.
But a league source tells us that the $5 million roster bonus is fully guaranteed by $5 million in salary and other payments, all of which will hit the cap in 2009 because, in 2010, there is no salary cap.
So if the Browns cut him or if they keep him, they’re still on the hook for $5 million. 
How this affects trade talks remains to be seen.  On one hand, there’s even greater urgency for the Browns to do a deal before the roster bonus comes due, since that’s the only way to avoid paying the $5 million.  On the other hand, the Browns might take the position that, if they’re on the hook for the $5 million regardless of whether they keep him or cut him, they might as well keep him around for another year.
New coach Eric Mangini might have been already laying the foundation for the “screw it, we’ll keep him” approach on Thursday, when he didn’t commit to Brady Quinn as the starter.
Regardless, the fact that Anderson’s $5 million roster bonus is fully guaranteed by $5 million in other payments represents a fairly large Cleveland Steamer that Phil Savage has left for the next G.M. (whoever it might be) to clean up.


  1. Anderson blew goats this year, but seriously, what has Brady done to deserve the starting job? Open competition for the most important position on your team sirs…take the bankroll hit.

  2. Is a “Cleveland Steamer” worse than a “Detroit Steamer” or a “Kansas City Steamer”?

  3. “Cleveland Steamer”…. priceless
    I can’t wait for you to work in a Dirty Sanchez reference.

  4. Ugh. Cleveland is an absolute mess.
    As a Steelers fan, I do feel bad for them. We welcome competition and relish beating good teams instead of steamrolling bad ones.

  5. This should make him more attractive to other teams though, maybe they’ll actually get something for him in trade.

  6. So many people focus on whether or not Phil Savage was good at scouting the draft and how great of a talent evaluator he was. I’ve long contended that any strength he had in those areas was more than offset by his deficient abilities in other areas… overpaying FAs, overpaying in trades, PR problems, what have you… we could go on and on.
    These are the kinds of decisions that hamstring organizations with several years of fallout after they’ve jumped ship.
    It’s just the tip of the iceberg, fellow Browns fans… the media lauded all of his FA acquisitions without much critical consideration. With a new sheriff in town, and the purge that is likely to follow… we’re all going to see just how lousy a GM this guy truly was.
    Of course, hindsight is always 20-20… but just think… Savage all but confirmed we could have had a 1st and a 3rd for DA, but he tripped all over himself to sign him to a big-money deal before the FA market even opened, negotiating against only himself…. because it would have been only “low first and third” rounders–how would that look right now relative to this mess? Considering we’d given up a 1st and 2nd round pick for BQ, many of us thought even a low 1st and 3rd would have been good value… Savage effectively gave up two firsts, a second, and a third rounder for our current QB, not to mention the financial mismanagement with this DA deal.

  7. @ Pear Tea…
    This feels like a wake or something. Receiving sympathies from Steelers fans. Ugh. =-)

  8. @ Rob Noxious – it sounds to me like there must be other payments or bonuses that are triggered if the roster bonus is not paid.
    Who knows, I certainly don’t have the contract in front of me, but I assume the worst when it comes to Savage’s contracts.

  9. saintsbucspanthers….yes they are worse- there is NO WAY they could beat either detroit OR kc right now, hell they hadn’t scored a td since november and got shut out last two games, right now cleveland is #33 out of 32 teams. maybe next with mangenius they can get back into top 32~! don’t bet on it

  10. ————–
    JawadSuggs says:
    January 9th, 2009 at 5:11 pm
    Man, what? This makes no sense at all.
    Exactly. This is what it’s like to be a Browns fan.

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