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Examining A Possible Contract Extension For Connor McGovern

Last offseason, I advocated a “wait and see” approach for any multiyear extension for Connor McGovern. Well, the Broncos have indeed waited, and what we’ve seen is someone who is playing every single snap at a high level. There are now calls (such as this emphatic one from Matt McChesney) for him to indeed get that multiyear extension. Let’s take a look at what McGovern could expect for his second contract in the NFL.

Top interior offensive line pay has breached the eight figure level.

While I will be projecting McGovern’s contract as a center, it is notable that guard pay is very similar, and if McGovern’s 2020 team decides for whatever reason to use him at guard, this analysis from the perspective of center can also be applied to guard.

The center position has seen several new contracts issued in 2019: Mitch Morse (March 14), old friend Matt Paradis (March 14), Rodney Hudson (August 30), Cody Whitehair (September 2) Nick Martin (September 9), and JC Tretter (November 8). Here are some relevant financial metrics for the contracts those players signed:

Player Years APY GuaranteesCash Flow
Year 1Year 2Year 3
Mitch Morse4$11,125,000$20,400,000 $19,500,000 $28,375,000$36,000,000
Matt Paradis3$9,010,000$10,000,000$11,500,000$18,500,000$27,030,000
Rodney Hudson3$11,250,000$0$13,000,000$22,900,000$33,750,000
Cody Whitehair5$10,250,000$12,026,078 $5,900,000$16,500,000$23,000,000
Nick Martin3$11,000,000$18,351,132 $10,000,000$17,500,000$25,000,000
JC Tretter3$10,850,000$14,500,000 $6,500,000$14,850,000 $24,300,000

With a large sample size of contracts signed in 2019, the approximate ranges that McGovern should expect are straightforward:

  • APY: $10.25 million to over $11 million. I do not consider Paradis’s APY to be representative, as injury dulled his market.
  • Guarantees: $12 million to $20 million. Again, Paradis’s injury made teams leery from guaranteeing too much. Hudson, meanwhile, took a bit of a risk that the Raiders will exercise good faith on his extension, as the only full guarantee he got was on old money. Hudson is scheduled to see his base salary of more that $12 million vest to fully guaranteed on March 20.
  • Cash flow: $7 million to $15 million at signing, $15 million to $23 million after two years, and $23 million to $36 million after three years. I consider Morse’s running totals to be quite generous, likely influenced by the fact that he is the only one of these six players to have no injury concerns that signed his deal as an unrestricted free agent.
  • Contract length: 3 years has been the norm, and it is the norm I will use for the sample contracts below for McGovern–though if either the Broncos or McGovern want to go more than three years, that is fine.

Sample contracts

As always, the usual notes:

  • All figures in italics indicate base salary that is fully guaranteed.
  • Base salary money can be split out into roster bonuses (should McGovern want money quicker) or workout bonuses (should the Broncos want to incentivize attending offseason activities)
  • The last year of the contract, at the very least, should contain the usual team options in case the new CBA still allows the manipulation of the compensatory pick system on this basis. In turn, the Broncos can offer an option bonus or a small vesting guarantee of base salary should McGovern demand it.

Contract A: top in APY

YearBase SalaryProrated BonusCap NumberDead Money & Cap Savings (pre-June 1)

With the potential to earn $34.5 million over just three seasons, McGovern would become the new leader at center in APY at $11.5 million. However, in exchange McGovern would yield on low full guarantees (only a $9 million signing bonus and guaranteed 2020 base salary of $3.5 million), and Year 1 cash flow of the same, $12.5 million. McGovern also risks this deal turning into a one and done contract should something go wrong in 2020

In order to make this work, McGovern should demand that the contract is no longer than three years, in order to get another shot at free agency while still in good shape, and he should also demand some or of all of 2021’s base salary is guaranteed for injury that vests to a full guarantee soon after the start of the 2021 league year.

Contract B: top in guarantees

YearBase SalaryProrated BonusCap NumberDead Money & Cap Savings (pre-June 1)

This is the type of contract that will give McGovern the most immediate security: a higher signing bonus ($12 million), and $10 million guaranteed in 2020 and 2021 base salaries, for a position-leading $22 million. This also binds the Broncos to a firm two year commitment to McGovern.

The tradeoff here is a less than stellar APY of $10.5 million, and in turn a low total contract potential of $31.5 million

Contract C: near top in cash flow

YearBase SalaryProrated BonusCap NumberDead Money & Cap Savings (pre-June 1)

Upping the signing bonus even further allows McGovern to get more cold, hard cash into his hand quicker. $19 million after one year, and $27 million after two, would be just a shade below Morse in both categories. The tradeoff, again, is the risk of this becoming a one year deal should something go wrong in 2020 with the lack of full guarantees in 2021 (though again, injury guarantees vesting into full could be negotiated).

If McGovern were to get a high signing bonus, the Broncos may also want to add a fourth year for proration purposes–either real with an $11 million base salary that matches the APY but also with a team option, or fake via a void year–should they want to spend more on other extensions and external free agents.

Replete comparables should make this an easier extension to do

The sudden surge of new center contracts give both the Broncos and McGovern a straightforward path to get a deal done. If such a deal is not done, it will indicate that the Broncos do not view McGovern on the upper tier of center pay. They took such a path with Paradis last offseason, and despite the uncertainty of such a move, so far it appears more likely than not that the Broncos were correct to let Paradis walk. But similar uncertainty will arise again should they decide to let McGovern walk as well.