Bradley Roby is not only entering a contract year; he is entering it in a year where he is becoming a de jure starter, even if de facto he has played in a majority of snaps for the Broncos. The opportunity is there for him to move on to the next level not only on the field, but to the bank. What type of vested veteran contract could await him?
Starting veteran cornerbacks do not come cheap.
I’m not going to sugarcoat this one: we should lean toward the outcome of Roby getting paid. Trying to replicate the sui generis hometown discount of Chris Harris, Jr. is an unrealistic expectation. And remember when the Broncos gave Aqib Talib a “big time” payday all the way back in 2014? That contract is still active in Los Angeles, but Talib is now tied for 17th in APY among cornerback pay, despite arguably outplaying many of those getting paid more than him.
I also don’t expect teams to be fooled by the idea that Roby may not have played as much as he possibly could. Few outside of Houston had heard of A.J. Bouye before he not only got paid after a stellar contract year, but backed up his pay in Jacksonville. Barring disaster in 2018, some team will likely take a financial swing at Roby if the Broncos don’t first.
The following players are cornerbacks that have signed vested veteran deals in the past two years. Looking at a few key on-field stats from the past four seasons (since Roby entered the league), Roby’s numbers may be slightly lower, but not unreasonably so. In particular, the deal the Packers offered for Kyle Fuller (matched by the Bears) is one that sent a strong signal to me that Roby is capable of getting paid on that level.
|Player||Stats||Yrs||APY||Full Guarantees||Running Cash Flows|
|Snaps||INT||PD||Total||Pct.||Year 1||Year 2||Year 3|
Remember that whenever I post contracts, I am doing so from a neutral position. If I was in the Broncos’ front office or a part of Roby’s representation, I would offer a contract that’s biased to who I’m working for.
|Year||Base Salary||Prorated Bonus||Cap Number||Dead Money (pre June 1)||Cap Savings (pre June 1)|
italics represent fully guaranteed base salary
This is a five year, $67.5 million contract that matches Bouye in APY right in the middle of recent vested veteran cornerback signings. The strongest part of this deal for Roby is the fully guaranteed money that comes from a $10.5 million signing bonus and $16 million in guaranteed base salaries in 2019 and 2020. At $26.5 million, that is third to only Johnson and Gilmore, barely above Bouye and Butler, and clearly above all others.
But in exchange for good full guarantees, Roby yields to the Broncos on cash flow. He only gets his signing bonus in new money at signing, and after the first extended year (2019) he only has $16.5 million, considerably lower than the leaders in this department. Running cash flows for Years 2 and 3, at $26.5 million and $38 million, are not much better.
Why do I have Roby yielding in cash flow? There are three reasons:
- To account for the possibility that the Broncos, currently second in cash spenders for 2018, may need to be judicious with how much money they are paying out now.
- 2018 and 2019 cap space is tight for the Broncos, and they need to defer some of Roby’s extension cost into 2020 and beyond.
- The 30% Rule makes it difficult to balance cash flows that could get money to Roby earlier. The 30% Rule states that base salaries for any year outside the scope of the CBA (2021 and beyond) may not exceed 30% of the previous year’s salary. Therefore, the big jump in salary for Roby has to take place while the CBA is still in operation in 2019 and 2020.
You may have noticed that although I said that Roby gets a $10.5 million signing bonus, his prorated bonus money actually adds up to $17.5 million. This is because as a condition of extending, I am demanding that Roby convert $7 million of his current fifth year option of $8.526 million to a signing bonus. I find this to be imperative as a way to lower Roby’s 2018 cap number so that the Broncos can make room for possible extensions for Matt Paradis, Shane Ray, or Shaq Barrett, as well as for any other expenditures for 2018 and 2019.
I don’t expect Roby to balk on this at all, as this means he gets $7 million now, instead of waiting for game checks for each week of the 2018 regular season. If his agent wants to, his camp can even leak to the media that Roby signed a deal that “includes more than $35 million guaranteed”, even though his fifth year option is not new money and is for all practical matters going to be guaranteed anyway.
For unguaranteed years, it should be fait accompli that they will be structured as option years for compensatory pick manipulation, even in the unlikely case that compensatory picks are done away with in the new CBA. If either the Broncos or Roby balk on guarantees, a combination of an injury guarantee triggering into a full guarantee unless an option is picked up to continue the contract may be used as a way to find compromise.
Is this enough to lock Roby up before the 2018 regular season?
I feel that this is a fair deal for Roby, but some players are not afraid to roll the dice on their contract year in hopes of striking it big in free agency. Others are content to stick with familiarity when they get an extension offer they find acceptable. There is no right or wrong answer to that question, and it will be up to Roby to decide what path he wants to take as he approaches perhaps his most financially key season in his NFL career. But it certainly helps Roby’s cause that he is playing a position that the market has valued high in recent years.