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Wednesday, March 19, 2014
Breaking down Pollak's, Mays' contracts

By Coley Harvey

Four days before the free-agency period began, the Cincinnati Bengals announced that unrestricted free agent and backup offensive guard/center Mike Pollak had been re-signed.

When the team also announced the following Tuesday that starting center Kyle Cook had been cut, the re-signing started to make sense. The Bengals, it seemed, wanted Pollak to contend for the center vacancy. One look at the three-year contract Pollak just signed makes that even more apparent.

After maxing out at a single-season base salary of $715,000 in 2013, Pollak stands to make more than $1 million in base salary next season, his seventh as an NFL lineman. With a $1 million guarantee in the first year of the deal and escalators of up to $1 million across the final two seasons, he seems to have the kind of contract that warrants more than just relief appearances at right guard.

Defensive back Taylor Mays, on the other hand, didn't come out quite as fortunate. Signed to a one-year deal, he's slated to make $755,000 of base salary next season. With just $40,000 of guaranteed money from a signing bonus, his cap value for the 2014 season is $795,000.

Mays' re-signing was made official Monday after he had reportedly agreed to a deal last Tuesday. The unrestricted free agent appeared in just eight games last season before a shoulder injury sidelined him the rest of the year. Mays' role was largely an undefined one after a late-preseason injury to linebacker Emmanuel Lamur forced him into learning how to play that position. He was asked to play as a cover linebacker in certain nickel situations. In addition to tinkering with that position, Mays also played his normal safety position. He figures to get more time this offseason working on the nickel linebacker spot in the event he's needed there again in relief this season.

Pollak is expected to enter OTAs and training camp competing with Trevor Robinson for the starting center job. He also could get first-team work at guard. After right guard Kevin Zeitler was lost for a few weeks with a foot injury late last season, Pollak came off the bench and started. His efforts were so well received by coaches that he remained in the starting rotation even after Zeitler was cleared to return. There's a chance Pollak could get work at left guard this preseason as well, depending upon how Clint Boling's recovery from ACL surgery progresses.

Here's a year-by-year look at the breakdown of both Pollak's and Mays' new Bengals contracts (specifics come from ESPN's Stats & Information):

Taylor Mays 2014
Cap value: $795,000
Cash value: $795,000
Signing bonus: $40,000
Roster bonus: $0
Workout bonus: $0
Base salary: $755,000
Guaranteed money: $40,000

Mike Pollak 2014
Cap value: $1,766,666
Cash value: $2,100,000
Signing bonus: $500,000
Roster bonus: $500,000 (kicked in on the third day of the league year)
Workout bonus: $75,000
Base salary: $1,025,000
Guaranteed money: $1,000,000

Mike Pollak 2015
Cap value: $1,441,666
Cash value: $1,275,000
Signing bonus: $0
Roster bonus: $0
Workout bonus: $75,000
Base salary: $1,200,000
*Could see an escalator up to $750,000 based on playing time.

Mike Pollak 2016
Cap value: $1,591,668
Cash value: $1,425,000
Signing bonus: $0
Roster bonus: $0
Workout bonus: $75,000
Base salary: $1,350,000
*Could see an escalator up to $1 million based on playing time.