The truth on the Brandon Marshall deal

Now that NBC has produced and aired a commercial that makes us look a lot better at this than we really are, we need to periodically put something up here that justifies the characterization.

So here’s one to consider.

Many of you have wondered how and why the Miami Dolphins could have made Brandon Marshall the highest-paid receiver in NFL history.  The easy answer, as we pointed out the other day, is that they didn’t — his widely-reported four-year, $47.5 million extension fairly should be regarded at best as a five-year, $50 million contract, giving Marshall a $10 million annual average that matches the yearly total paid to Cardinals receiver Larry Fitzgerald.

Now for the truth.

For starters, the full contract is worth $47.3 million over five years.  It contains a phony $2.7 million roster bonus payable in 2014 — but only if Marshall participates in 95 percent or more of the Dolphins’ special teams plays in 2010.

Why would this be included?  To allow Marshall and his agent to characterize the contract as a package worth $10 million per year.  Truth be told, it’s worth $9.46 million annually.

(That may not seem like much of a difference, but the phantom roster bonus allows Marshall and his agent, Kennard McGuire, to claim with a straight face that Marshall is getting $10 million per year.)

Then there’s the notion that the Dolphins would pay $24 million in guaranteed money to a guy with a history of off-field incidents.  Surely, V.P. of football operations Bill Parcells hasn’t lost his mind, right?

He hasn’t.  (Or, more accurately, if he has, this isn’t proof of it.)

With the 2009 decision in the Plaxico Burress grievance that signing bonus money can be recovered only if the player holds out or retires, a $20 million signing bonus would have been untouchable, even if Marshall had been suspended for a year or longer.  So the Dolphins instead have paid out a signing bonus of $5.5 million.  Coupled with a guaranteed base salary (for skill and injury) of $4 million in 2010, Marshall’s contract has a minimum value of $9.5 million over one year.

Here’s the kicker.  If the Dolphins decide before April 2, 2011 that Marshall isn’t who they thought he was, they can walk away, possibly without paying Marshall another penny.  Prior to April 2, 2011, he has only $3 million in future guaranteed money that already has been unlocked.  But the contract contains offset language; if they cut him and someone else pays him $3 million in 2011, the Dolphins are off the hook for the balance of the contract.

And even if the Dolphins pay a $3 million option bonus due on April 2, 2011, guaranteed base salaries of $6.5 million in 2011 and $6 million in 2012 (he also has $3 million in non-guaranteed base pay in 2012) can be nullified if Marshall is suspended by the league.

So, for now, the only guaranteed money is $12.5 million, with an offset for up to $3 million.  If the Dolphins decided to keep him past April 2, 2011, another $9.5 million in guaranteed base salaries will be available — as long as Marshall stays out of trouble.

These facts are another reason why it’s always dangerous to accept at face value the numbers that the player’s camp begins to parrot as soon as the deal is signed. 

The problem is that the agent has an incentive to get a skewed version of the contract into the media, the team rarely is willing to say anything that would dampen the “highest paid player!” parade, and the reporter who gets the information often is so determined to be first that the question of whether or not the information is accurate often gets lost in the shuffle.  (And, yes, we’ve done that once or twice — and we hope that we have learned from it.)

31 responses to “The truth on the Brandon Marshall deal

  1. Brandon Marshall Is A Dolphin!
    U Have No Idea How Happy I Am!
    Davon Bess Says He Wont Give Up #15!
    I Say Brandon Marshall Should Buy #85 From TE Kory Sperry Or Take Ted Ginn Jr’s Number 19!
    Id Rather See Brandon Marshall In The #85 Jersey!

  2. enough with the “mine’s bigger than yours is” articles … does anyone really care? …
    bottom line …. dude got a huge contract and will collect a King’s bounty if he keeps his nose clean and plays well the next five years …

  3. I am glad that Miami structured the contract so that Marshall can claim he makes $10 million annually.
    Having to acknowledge only making $9.46 million per year would be so humiliating.

  4. The ONLY thing that matters with NFL contracts is the guaranteed $, so Marshall’s is not even close to L.F.’s $30 mil in guarantees.

  5. @ Winslow: well said.
    That kind of pay-cut would make him want to fight a McDonalds bag.

  6. Sound like a fair deal to me… Although the extra $ for would be bragging rights is kinda lame haha. Oh Well we have a top 3 wr and we wouldn’t have gotten that with the #2’s in all probability. Win Win for us and the Bronco’s.

  7. I’m sure hill be a patient and classy guy as the Dolphins figure out who is going to be their quarterback of the future.

  8. why is this news? do you really need to hate on this guys money as much as you have?

  9. @Winslow: LOL
    @Florio: Good detective work. It sounds like a pretty smart deal for both parties. If Marshall behaves, he’ll be compensated very well. If he doesn’t, the Dolphins can kick him to the curb without destroying their franchise financially.

  10. Ok Davon Bess sayin he won’t give up #15. ok idiot, Marshall will be wearing #15

  11. are you really going to do this with every contract? i think we get the point-agents state the maximum value of contracts, while the money the player is likely to get is actually much lower.
    It was novel the first few times you explained this, but now you are doing it with every big contract that comes out.
    It’s Saturday-for Christ’s sake spend some time with your family instead of re-spewing the same stuff out.

  12. My boss just told me he will tell the press I make 40k a year instead of 36k so it will make me and my agent feel better.
    These poor millionaires.

  13. I like the article, I enjoy the numbers game. Not being sarcastic I am always amazed how the media portrays these deals then PFT gives the real breakdown. I remember saving all of Brady Quinn’s contract numbers and amazed a few friends who thought that he was making huge money. He probably made more from the Subway commercials.
    It also illustrates that Parcells is the guy I thought he was, I couldn’t believe this deal when I first heard about it. This makes alot more sense.

  14. Florio thanks for the breakdown. It’s great to see the fish structure the deal like this to help limit their liability in case something bad happens.

  15. @Tre-nitty
    You obviously didnt see the press conference where Marshall said “I dont care what number I wear” and “the only number that counts is the number of games we win next year”…
    @ rea725
    When has Marshall had a problem with who his QB was???? He’s not TO. He never complained bout Orton or Cutler, so what are you talking about? And Henne very well could be a franchise QB. Laugh and joke about it if you want to.

  16. 2 all the brain surgeons who are saying Bess wont be a Dolphin so Marshall can have #15, a little insight… Marshall wore #6 in college, more than likely he will buy Thigpen’s number 16 and wear it…He wanted #16 in Denver but Plummer was still on the team when he was drafted…he decided 2 stick with #15 even after Plummer left…He has no ties to #15,and he already has said he will wear whatever number is available, so your predictions will not come 2 pass…

  17. Mad props on this one Florio. So what if we get the real details for every contract… that’s why I tune in!!!
    Everyone knows that the only reason the Dolphins got Marshall (and got rid of Teddy G) is for the special teams expertise. Does anybody have 95 on the Dolphins roster? Give it to Marshall!!!!!

  18. So the bottom line is that if McDaniels wasn’t an egomaniac incapable of dealing with star players, and Bowlen a cheap fool the Broncos could have signed him to the same kind of a deal with performance and behaviorial clauses.
    Despite all his failings Brandon Marshall seems to be exhibiting more maturity than Josh McDaniels.
    Bring on some rookie or some retread to replace Marshall who embraces McMoron’s “team first” concept.

  19. So he basically accepted from the Dolphins what the Broncos offered him last season.
    This assclown will be suspended before the season even starts.

  20. And he will get to keep a little bit more of that money because there is no state income tax in Florida.

  21. Waitin for a clip of the commercial. Be a nice PFTV segment where you can toot your horn. I missed it.

  22. And Jerry Jones says Bill Parcells ain’t worth a sh!t? How much you paying Roy Williams to play WR, you f&cking ignorant sh!it-kicking hick?

  23. Florio-
    When are you going to name the 5 young receivers who are better talents than Marshall?

  24. With $12.5M for 2 years guaranteed (plus another $9.5M guaranteed for 3 additional years only if Marshall performs and stays out of trouble in ’10 and ’11), this is a deal Denver should have done instead of jettisoning another Pro Bowl player. Miami was able to manage risk knowing the immense talent of BM, so why not the Broncos? Perhaps, because McDaniels is overcompensating for his shortcomings by seeking power and control…
    Fire McDaniels!

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