<
>

Breaking down Rey Maualuga's new Bengals contract

CINCINNATI -- On the surface it seems rather shocking that the Cincinnati Bengals agreed late last week to pay linebacker Rey Maualuga an average of $5 million over the next three seasons.

It seems even more bizarre that they are looking at paying him just short of half of his newly extended contract in the first year of the deal.

But upon further inspection of Maualuga's contract provided by ESPN Stats & Information and other sources, one can see there are provisions built in that appear to have saved the Bengals from long-term robbery in the event this next phase of the veteran's career doesn't work out.

In addition to the $7.1 million cap charge that is partially covered by the fully guaranteed $4.5 million roster bonus Maualuga will be due on Wednesday, the Bengals also don't have any dead money tied up in him in 2016 and 2017. That means if he gets cut after this season, they won't owe anything to his contract once he's released. Since the Bengals very regularly front-load their contracts with first-year guaranteed bonuses, they don't often run into trouble with dead money by the end of the deals they agree to.

Also working in the Bengals' favor are the relatively sizable cap savings they will get if Maualuga is released after 2015.

It was also good breaking up the roster bonus in the first two years, because it helped account for his guaranteed money, and also because it put the onus on Maualuga to stay healthy if he wanted to receive the maximum portion of his new deal. Health has been a concern of his the past two years, as he's been sidelined by knee and hamstring issues.

Regardless of how we dissect Maualuga's deal, it's still quite obvious he made out well for himself, particularly considering how ineffective the injuries have made him at times.

When healthy, he has been key in limiting opposing rushing offenses. When he was on the field last season, other teams averaged just 3.6 yards per carry. When he wasn't, they gained 4.9 yards per rush.

The former second-round pick has been loved and respected by coaches throughout his six-year career. As head coach Marvin Lewis said last Thursday, the decision to bring Maualuga back hinged in large part on the organization's belief that "keeping productive players who know our system" helped it reach an unprecedented four straight postseasons.

Here are the numbers behind Maualuga's deal:

2015

Cap value: $7,137,500

Base salary: $2,150,000

Guaranteed money: $4,500,000 (to be paid in the form of a roster bonus on Wednesday)

Roster bonus: $4,750,000 (the total roster bonus, including guaranteed money; remaining $250,000 paid per game active in 2015 -- $15,625 per game)

Workout bonus: $300,000

Dead money: $0

Cap savings: $2,637,500

2016

Cap value: $4,100,000

Base salary: $2,650,000

Guaranteed money: $0

Roster bonus: $1,150,000 ($900,000 due on fifth day of league year; remaining $250,000 paid per game active in 2016 -- $15,625 per game)

Workout bonus: $300,000

Dead money: $0

Cap savings: $4,100,000

2017

Cap value: $3,700,000

Base salary: $3,150,000

Guaranteed money: $0

Roster bonus: $250,000 (paid per game active in 2016 -- $15,625 per game)

Workout bonus: $300,000

Dead money: $0

Cap savings: $3,700,000