We mentioned earlier tonight some of the details relating to the Julius Peppers deal. We’ve picked up some more information about the contract, and it’s now clear that if the Bears clean house after the 2010 season, it’ll be easier for the new regime to bid Peppers adieu.
As Peter King of SI.com pointed out this afternoon, Peppers gets $20 million in 2010 (all but a $100,000 workout bonus is guaranteed). But the $22 million in guaranteed money that he’s due to receive in 2011 and 2012 is guaranteed for injury only.
This means that the Bears can decide after the 2010 season to cut Peppers for skill reasons — and they’ll owe him nothing.
Specifically, Peppers’ 2011 base salary of $900,000 is guaranteed for injury at the time it’s signed; on February 10, 2011, it becomes guaranteed for skill. Also, a $10.5 million roster bonus due in 2011 is guaranteed for injury at signing. On February 10, 2011, it becomes guaranteed for skill.
An $8.9 million base salary in 2012 is guaranteed for injury at signing and then for skill as of February 10, 2012.
Finally, $1.8 million of Peppers’ 2013 base salary is guaranteed for injury only.
So, basically, if the Bears decide before February 10, 2011 that Peppers isn’t what they thought he’d be, they can treat it as a one-year, $20 million deal, and walk away.
Also, by our calculations the actual guarantee is $42.0 million, which comes from a $6.5 million signing bonus, a $12.5 million roster bonus in 2010, a $900,000 guaranteed base salary in 2010, a $10.5 million guaranteed roster bonus in 2011, a $900,000 guaranteed base salary in 2011, a guaranteed base salary of $8.9 million in 2012, and a $1.8 million base salary guarantee in 2013.
Still, only $19.9 million of the money is guaranteed for skill. If the new coach and G.M. decide that Peppers doesn’t have enough of it to justify the remaining money, Peppers could be out of more than $22 million that supposedly is destined to land in his bank account.
And there’s also a chance that Peppers could be in trouble even if the current regime survives. If the Bears get to the postseason without much of a contribution from Peppers, coach Lovie Smith and G.M. Jerry Angelo likely will be back. But maybe they’ll decide to cut their losses on Peppers.
If nothing else, Peppers still has a reason to try to play hard, and the Bears did a great job of structuring the deal to allow themselves the opportunity to declare that the move was a mistake — and to avoid more than $22 million in guaranteed compensation.