Signing bonus rule will clear cap space for teams with opt-outs

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NFL teams will be getting some additional cap space when players who received signing bonuses opt out of the 2020 season.

The prorated portion of a player’s signing bonus will be removed from his team’s 2020 cap space as soon as he officially opts out, according to Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.

For a team like the Broncos with offensive tackle Ja’Wuan James, his $10 million 2020 salary is taken off the salary cap and so is the $3 million proration of the $12 million signing bonus on his four-year contract. So the Broncos get $13 million in cap relief for the 2020 season.

As a practical matter, this may not make a big difference to how teams do business. Just because the Broncos suddenly have $13 million in cap space doesn’t mean there’s a $13 million player out there for them to sign: Few free agents remain around the NFL right now. And next year’s salary cap is expected to drop significantly, so teams may decide simply not to spend any extra cap space so they can roll it over to next year.

Still, this is could news for the few remaining free agents hoping to cash in. Jadeveon Clowney, for example, might find that a team which previously showed no interest is suddenly open to signing him now that it has a surplus in cap space. It’s coming late in the offseason, but it may prove to be a lucrative development for a handful of players.

4 responses to “Signing bonus rule will clear cap space for teams with opt-outs

  1. Thank God that FOR ONCE….TEAMS actually get something that favors the team over the player.
    The PLAYER forfeits his season and should NOT be paid anything. The PLAYER, his agent, and his union know that this is a personal CHOICE made by the player.
    The TEAM should NOT have to suffer the cap charge for a player that QUIT.
    Yes, players who opt-out are QUITTERS IMO.
    Imagine the outrage from the players and the NFLPA if a TEAM decided to opt-out!
    Players would cry to the media about their contracts and how badly they want to play, the media would side with the players of course.

  2. conservativeconstitutionalist says:
    August 4, 2020 at 9:01 am
    Thank God that FOR ONCE….TEAMS actually get something that favors the team over the player.

    The article refers to prorated SIGNING BONUS money – aka money ALREADY PAID to the player – not being counted against the team’s salary cap for this season.

    There is no money going back in the owner’s pocket. If anything, this simply allows teams to sign and pay another player this season.

    What isn’t clear from the article is if the prorated bonus will be pushed back and count against next season‘s cap, or if it will go away entirely.

  3. So if you’re smart, you use the newly found cap space to restructure contracts of high ticket “keepers”, paying them with this year’s dollars and decreasing their cap numbers falling on future years.

    Of course that backfires down the road when those players complain about being underpaid, having forgotten about the “early payments” they already received…

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