On Wednesday, we noted that it would be instructive to learn how the Green Bay Packers structured the salary-cap impact of linebacker Clay Matthews' record-setting contract extension. Thursday, the numbers came in and here's what we can say: Matthews' deal makes little impact on the Packers' 2013 cap but will play a more significant role over time.
The deal, technically a six-year document worth $69.7 million because it was tacked on to Matthews' previous contract, counts $6.7 million against the Packers' 2013 cap. Matthews was already set to count $4.9 million under the old deal, so at the moment the Packers still have about $15.7 million in cap space remaining.
The cap hit reaches its height in 2017, when the deal will count $15.2 million in cap dollars, before dropping a bit in 2018 when the five-year limit on pro-ration ends. Here are the annual cap hits:
2013: $6.71 million
2014: $11.0 million
2015: $12.7 million
2016: $13.75 million
2017: $15.2 million
2018: $11.4 million
Some of you are already asking if the Packers will have to renegotiate the contract before it ends because of the increasing cap numbers. It's a fair question considering the team will, at some point, have a much bigger annual cap consideration for quarterback Aaron Rodgers.
The short answer is not necessarily. Additional television money will eventually raise the cap spending limit, and it won't be untenable for one of the top players on a roster to consume $15 million in cap space. You can't have eight players with $15 million-plus cap hits, but in 2017 you should be able to have a few. And if Matthews continues on his current path, the Packers will be happy to make him one of them.
Note: For those of you who keep track of such things, Matthews' deal technically guarantees $20.5 million of the total value in the form of a signing bonus. Matthews will be able to earn a roster bonus of $5 million in 2014 provided he is on the roster on the third day of the NFL's league year. He'll also be eligible for roster bonuses from 2014-18 that would pay him $31,250 for every game he is active for. If he never misses a game over that stretch, he will earn a maximum of $500,000 per year and $2.5 million over the life of the contract, through those bonuses.