Breaking down the Mario Williams deal


On Friday, before Bills G.M. Buddy Nix joined PFT Live to talk about the acquisition of defensive end Mario Williams, Buddy said he always checks PFT to see the actual value of contracts.

It’s fitting, then, that we’re now breaking down the actual value of the Mario Williams contract.

Here we go, in quick and easy terms via info obtained for a source with knowledge of the contract.

1.  $19 million signing bonus.

2.  $5.9 million fully guaranteed base salary in 2012.

3.  $8 million option bonus in 2013.

4.  $6.5 million base salary in 2013, guaranteed for injury only at the time of signing, fully guaranteed second day of 2013 league year.

5.  $10.6 million roster bonus in 2014, guaranteed for injury only at time of signing.

6.  $1.9 million base salary in 2014.

7.  $1 million roster bonus in 2015.

8.  $12.1 million base salary in 2015.

9.  $2.5 million roster bonus in 2016.

10.  $11.5 million base salary in 2016.

11.  $3.5 million roster bonus in 2017.

12.  $11.4 million base salary in 2017.

13.  $100,000 workout bonus in 2012, with $500,000 workout bonuses in each year from 2013 to 2016.

13.  $400,000 Pro Bowl incentives per year.

14.  $400,000 in additional incentives per year.

The base value is $96 million.  The incentives can push the deal to $100 million.

At the time of signing, the deal contains fully guaranteed money in the amount of $24.9 million.

Also, another $17.1 million is guaranteed for injury only at the time of signing; $6.5 million of it becomes fully guaranteed later.  It’s unclear whether the $8 million option bonus is fully guaranteed; as a practical matter, it is.

Given the $10.6 million roster bonus due in 2014, it’s a two-year, $40 million contract with a team-held option on the final four years.  More accurately, it’s a two-year contract with a one-year-at-a-time decision by the team as to whether it continues.

While it’s a significant risk in the short term, the Bills can walk away if it doesn’t work out.

There’s no reason to think it won’t work out.  Still, at a time when the perception is that the Bills handed the keys to the checking account to Williams, the truth is that it wasn’t as reckless as some may think.

Apart from the $40 million commitment for two seasons of football, which works out to $1.25 million per regular-season game.

14 responses to “Breaking down the Mario Williams deal

  1. When Reggie White signed with the Green Bay Packers in 1993 his entire contract was 4 years for 17 million dollars. At the tiime it was the largest contract a defensive player had ever signed.

    Mario gets 19 million as a signing bonus.


  2. Just to add another point on why the third year is the worst to cut him. The third year is the year where the Bills owe him the least money of any year in this contract.

  3. since 1993 the value of an NFL franchise has quadrupled. teams today average out at 1.02 BILLION dollars. while player payroll never goes over 51% of team income. i’d say keeping it in perspective, Reggie did good for those times. players didn’t get that type of percentage of yearly sales that they do now. they got ripped off back then.

  4. @sleazysnake

    While this is a ridiculous stat, it’s not as crazy as you think. $17M in 1993 is the same as $25+M today, and the average NFL franchise value has octupled since 1993, meaning that there is more money to give to players. Reggie White’s contract was also the largest ever signed by a defensive player at the time because 1993 was the first offseason of free agency in the NFL, which meant player salaries were way lower. Since it was the first year of free agency, 1993 was also the first year of the salary cap, which was set at $34.6M. This means that White’s $4.25M annual salary was 12.2% of his team’s cap, while Mario’s $16M average annual salary is 13.0% of his team’s cap.

    So yes, those are some startling numbers. But dig a little deeper and you’ll see that maybe it’s not so crazy at all.

  5. Will players salaries keep going up or will they flat line? It seems unsustainable to me.

  6. The worst year to cut Mario Williams is prior to his third season (other than right now). At that point, he has $17.8M in dead money. His cap hit for that year is just $18.4M. You add in the the minimum replacement player and you’re looking at a cap savings of just a couple thousand. It isn’t until the 4th year of the contract that it becomes worth while to cut Williams where they will get a bit more than $6m of real available cap space. At this point, and then prior to the last couple of years, the Bills would be fine to cut him if necessary. But prior to the third year, it is the worst year to cut him.

  7. bearsstillsuck, the players salaries will flatline the same day as the NFL’s heartbeat does. I assume that will be about the time the networks can no longer afford to pay Billions to televise games, and the fan can no longer afford to pay thousands to go see a game.

  8. I love all of these ridiculous NFL contracts. Every free agency period has outragous contract numbers that never get paid out in full. They will probably cut Mario before the 2015 season and he will never see ALL of that money. And, he’s not the only one. It happens to everyone of them. NBA and MLB owners should take note.

  9. Don’t forget this guy also made 60 million dollars already being the first pick of the draft. I think he really did feel comfortable on his Buffalo visit enough to want to sign there. Given how much he has already earned in his career, he could have afforded to take a little less to go somewhere else. It also sounded like he was less concerned with the “scene” in Buffalo and more about the dynamics in the locker room, did guys hang out away from football, what is there to do when you go home…he got a good deal from the Bills, but it’s not totally over the top when you break down the numbers, all relative to football player salaries of course. Most people would be happy with his offseason workout bonuses as a salary!

  10. Watch a playoff game from 1993 and count the number of jerseys in the crowd.

    Watch any sporting event today and make the same comparison. In 1993 merchandising meant hats and tees; today everyone owns a jersey. There’s simply more money available to teams than they had 20 years ago.

  11. Re: flatline salaries
    Luxury boxes, naming rights, merchandising, TV money based on selling advertising, and the world population has increased by 2 billion since 1993, and they can get all the games on their iPhone.

    This is the high water mark for pro football though, it’s all downhill from here. Now that defense is illegal, it’s just flag football now. Next the QB will be red-shirted during actual games.

    There is a reason that there will always be fighting in hockey, boxing won’t go away and MMA is getting more popular every year.

    Do the math.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.