Mailbag: Regarding roster bonuses

Joe in Chicago writes: The past few weeks I’ve been hearing a lot about players receiving roster bonuses. How does that work? If a player does not receive a roster bonus would it still count against the cap (if there was one) or does it work like an expiring contract that would not have any cap hit?

Paul Kuharsky: There are really two kind of roster bonuses.

If I give you a big contract now with $30 million guaranteed and a $20 million signing bonus, with roster bonuses of $5 million next year and $5 million more the year after, they amount to deferred payments. If I’ve paid you the 20, it’s pretty much assured I’m going to pay you the other 10.

The second kind come later in a contract and are there to force a decision: If you’re due $2.5 million at the start of the league year, I either have to judge you to be worth it, which pretty much ensures you’re going to be on the team this season, or I cut you to avoid it, which gives you the opportunity to go find a better gig.

If you’re cut to avoid it, it wouldn’t count against a cap.

OK, we go heavy on the Titans from here. Before the complainants from Houston, Indy and Jacksonville perk up, let me say I can only answer the questions I get and the mailbag address is no secret.


Titan4fan in Brentwood, TN writes: Why are the Titans not making any roster moves? I am a 10 year PSL season ticket holder ready to give them up, tired of watching Ravens and Jets improve dramatically while we do nothing. We are in the second wave of FA several good options available. Need a quality cornerback, safety, defensive end, quarterback and returner that can be signed at a reasonable price. We are paying a backup quarterback $7.5M that needs to retire. We could use that money plus the other $18M saved on players not re-signed that we could upgrade. Titan fans are getting tired of Bud Adams’ and Jeff Fisher’s plan, they deserve a championship. Bud spend some money, you can't take it to heaven with you!!!! Now is the time.

Paul Kuharsky: Good options are available?

OK, I’ll bite. Please give me a couple names.

They got a veteran corner, linebacker and, if the Eagles don’t match, defensive end.

That’s not bad for a team looking to build through the draft. They’ve got experienced insurance or depth, and can now go get kids with upside.

Who is it you want that’s available right now? How many FAs did Colts and Saints add last season before they went to the Super Bowl?

As for Kerry Collins’ money -- he doesn’t get a new dime until the first week of the season. (And it’s $5.5 M left not $7.5.) So with no second quarterback in play, wouldn’t it be irresponsible to make a move now?

Brad in Houston writes: PK, what is your take on Kirk Morrison? I believe he is a solid run defender and a very consistent player who would fit what the Titans do. Could something materialize with sending LenDale White to Oakland in exchange for Morrison so that no draft picks are lost? Morrison was only tendered with a 3rd rounder.

Paul Kuharsky: I like what I know of him. But it would take a third or a fourth. People don’t give away good players for your junk and a lot of the league doesn’t regard White in a good light. Also, does Oakland need a running back? I don’t think it does.

Here’s something that touched on Morrison at the start of free agency.

Jim in Memphis writes: Because the Titans are a small-market team, does that constrain their activity in free agency? They seem to want to save the bank, but have spent in the past and been burned. Steve McNair and Eddie George come to mind. It seems to me that they spend when they see something great and rarely miss.

Paul Kuharsky: No. Small market stuff is way over played. Does it hurt New Orleans or Indianapolis? They were in the Super Bowl. It’s not about saving the bank, it’s about paying what they judge someone to be worth. You think they should have spent on George and McNair? It was clear when they left they were done (McNair had one more year in him, George none) and the Titans had made the right decision rather than the sentimental one.

Gerald Ball from parts unknown writes: Four questions. 1. Will the Titans make a run at Nate Vasher, the 28 year old Pro Bowl CB just released by the Bears? 2. Will the Titans start going after linebackers who can rush the passer like South Carolina's Eric Norwood (who has a third-round grade)? 3. Jordan Shipley is very good at returning kicks and punts, and would help the Titans more at wide receiver in 2010 than Lavelle Hawkins and Paul Williams put together. Any chance the Titans have interest? 4. Bo Scaife and Alge Crumpler won't be in Nashville past 2010. Are the Titans likely to get a TE in the draft? Thanks!

Paul Kuharsky: 1) Don’t think he’s a fit. Once a Pro Bowler doesn’t mean always a Pro Bowler. Doesn’t sound like a great Titans’ match. 2) They don’t rush the passer often with their linebackers, so I don’t see why that would become a focus. But sure you’d like your backers to have that skill set. 3) Sure they’d love Shipley. They just don’t have a pick anywhere near where he will get drafted, I don’t think. 4) Maybe late. But the tight ends of the future are Jared Cook and Craig Stevens, both recent third-rounders. Crumpler left between the time you wrote in and I posted this.

Darcy in Columbus, OH writes: On your recent draft update and the past you have mentioned the Titans need for a defensive end. I realize it's a primary need, but wouldn't be easier to "kill two birds with one stone" by drafting a corner/return specialist with the first pick? Such as Kyle Wilson (if he's still there) or Devin McCourty (family)? Just wanted to know your input? Thanks

Paul Kuharsky: It’d be a nice bonus. But if you don’t love him as a position player, you can’t let the return skills over-influence you. And if he’s good enough to start on defense, you’re not going to want to use him as a special teamer for very long.

McCourty shouldn’t get graded up because they have his brother.

Josh Cates in Louisville, KY writes: I have a question about RFAs, and, as a Titans fan, I'll use LenDale White as my example to make the question clear. Do the Titans have Right of first refusal by default, or do they have to tender him the lowest RFA tender to have that right? And if they don't, and he doesn't get signed by another team, is he still a Titan next year? If so, at what salary -- RFA tender salary or his current contract salary?

Paul Kuharsky: You have to tender him, but tendered at any level you get ROFR. If you don’t tender him, he becomes free to sign anywhere -- see Marlin Jackson of the Colts who jumped to Philly. (Untendered, you’re basically unrestricted, but still categorized as restricted though no one has a right to match.)

You can pull an RFA's tender at any time, but it had to be put on him by the start of the new league year. And a guy can sign it at any time.

White will sign it -- they all do. The deadline is before the draft, and a team will say, “You’re last, best chance to get traded is on draft day, and we can’t move you if we don’t have you under contract.”

David Dunston in Nashville writes: Why don't you stir someone else's pot? What say we give Vince Young a chance to continue without constantly reminding the world that he could "fall back to the things that got him demoted the first time.” I guess you media guys do that so you can say, “Hey, I warned you.” Funny you hardly ever hear someone come out and say, “Boy, I blew that one... and let's face it, in the world of "Expert Opinion" most media blows it more than they get right. And they never have to answer for it. I like your articles most of the time. I might still get the Tennessean if you were still there. But you are National now, so cut us some slack.

Paul Kuharsky: I’m giving him a chance. Why in the world would I not be allowed to use his past as a potential predictor of his future? I did it with a number of players in that post – see Kris Brown, for example.

I don’t understand the idea that I am national now so I should cut you some slack. Please explain?

As for never admitting I am wrong, please see here (for a general admission) and here (for a Young-specific example).