MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings were scheduled to owe Matt Cassel a $500,000 bonus if he was still on the roster by Thursday. The decision they made to trade Cassel and sign Shaun Hill netted them an extra draft pick and $1.5 million in cap savings for 2015.
The 35-year-old Hill, who signed a two-year, $6.5 million deal with the Vikings on Tuesday, will count for $3.25 million against the cap in both years of his deal. The Vikings shipped Cassel and a sixth-round draft pick to Buffalo for a fifth-rounder this year and a seventh-rounder next year -- in a deal that was almost scuttled, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Caplan, when Cassel's surgically-repaired foot raised red flags with his physical. The Vikings had already agreed with Hill by the time Cassel took his physical, and ostensibly could have cut Cassel had he been returned to them. But with the deal done, they've got an eighth draft pick to go with their extra cap space.
Hill's $2.2 million base salary for 2015 is fully guaranteed, and he will receive a $1 million roster bonus next week. The payment, in lieu of a signing bonus, is a hallmark of a Rob Brzezinski contract; the Vikings' VP of football operations often uses roster bonuses instead of signing bonuses to avoid the risk of dead money in the future. Hill has a $3.2 million base salary in 2016, but none of it is guaranteed, effectively making the deal a year-to-year contract. We'll see the Vikings use a similar contract structure plenty this spring, and it makes good sense for a player of Hill's age.
The quarterback also gets $50,000 workout bonuses in each year of the deal, bringing the total bill to $6.5 million. According to a league source, Hill can earn an additional $500,000 in incentives in both 2015 and 2016.