Campbell’s real guarantee is $17 million


Another week, another contract that was initially reported as having a much higher value than it actually has.

It was reported on Friday Cardinals defensive end Calais Campbell has received a five-year, $55 million contract with $31 million guaranteed.  Inspection of the contract reveals that the deal isn’t quite that sweet.

Only $17 million is fully guaranteed upon signing.  And, as a practical matter, it’s not a five-year, $55 million contract but a one-year, $17 million contract with a team-held option for the remainder.

That said, it’s at least a one-year, $17 million contract.  Which is nice.

The Cardinals can avoid the balance of the deal by cutting Campbell on the before the third day of the 2013 waiver period, otherwise known as the Tuesday after the Super Bowl.

And if the Cardinals should decide to move on after 2012, Campbell will hit the market after making more than $6 million more than he would have made under the franchise tag, and he’d be a free agent weeks before free agency opens.

Another $13 million in guaranteed money is guaranteed for injury only in 2012, meaning that he’ll get it only if he has a career-ending injury between now and early 2013.

Here’s the full and easily-digestible breakdown of the deal:

1.  $15 million signing bonus;

2.  $2 million base salary in 2012, fully guaranteed;

3.  $10 million option bonus in 2013;

4.  $3 million base salary in 2013 that becomes fully guaranteed if the option bonus is exercised (the salary is $13 million if the option isn’t exercised, and it becomes fully guaranteed if Campbell is on the roster on the third day of the 2013 waiver period);

5.  $5.5 million base salary in 2014, $1 million of which is guaranteed for injury only at signing (it converts to $1 million guaranteed for cap/skill but not injury as of the third day of the 2014 waiver period);

6.  $9 million base salary in 2015;

7.  $9.5 million base salary in 2016;

8.  $250,000 annual workout bonuses from 2013 through 2016.

It’s a total base value of $55 million, so that part of the report is accurate.  With a cap number, however, that starts at $5 million and increases to $8.75 million in 2013, $11.25 million in 2014, $14.75 million in 2015, and $15.25 million in 2016, the final two years could disappear — assuming that the Cardinals decide after paying $17 million in 2012 to pay another $13 million in 2013.