Tuesday, August 31, 2010
Updating four NFC West contract situations
By Mike Sando
A quick look at four prominent NFC West players with notable contract situations for 2010, and how those players fit with their teams:
Arizona Cardinals: Matt Leinart
Leinart's contract carries a $2.485 million base salary this season before ballooning in value for 2011.
The Cardinals could easily justify that 2010 salary even if Derek Anderson went into the regular season as the starter. Releasing Leinart would carry no ramifications for the Cardinals because there is no salary cap.
Leinart's deal calls for him to earn at least $7.36 million in salary and $5.5 million in bonus money for 2012, however, and the Cardinals would not pay that money unless Leinart became a franchise quarterback -- something that appears unlikely given recent events.
St. Louis Rams: Oshiomogho Atogwe
The collective bargaining agreement turned Atogwe from a franchise player last offseason to a restricted free agent this offseason.
The unusual predicament gave the Rams two options: offer $1.226 million to Atogwe or guarantee him nearly $7 million. The Rams gambled some by taking the cheaper route.
Atogwe eventually signed a one-year, $4.1 million deal that can be worth $31.6 million over five years if the Rams pay an $8 million bonus to Atogwe after the season. Atogwe becomes a free agent if the Rams decline to pay the bonus.
This was the best Atogwe could do under the circumstances (beyond the tough labor restrictions, he was also recovering from shoulder and hernia surgeries). At least the Rams got to keep him for 2010.
San Francisco 49ers: Michael Lewis
The 49ers have added youth and speed at safety over the past couple seasons.
The team still values the toughness and leadership Lewis provides, but his $4.1 million salary for 2010 was a bit steep. Lewis accepted a new deal featuring a $1.7 million salary for 2010 and another $400,000 in bonus money. The final two years of his previous deal -- 2011 and 2012 -- were torn up.
Lewis becomes a free agent after the 2010 season. This was potentially his last season with the 49ers, anyway. The team drafted safety Taylor Mays in the second round this year. Reggie Smith has also developed into a potential contributor at the position.
Seattle Seahawks: Leroy Hill
A domestic violence plea agreement and one-game NFL suspension created a gap between Hill's paper value and his actual value to the team.
The sides reached a compromise this offseason. Hill accepted a 2010 salary reduction from $6 million to $2.125 million and the Seahawks wiped out the remaining years on his contract. Hill received a $60,000 roster bonus and he can earn another $300,000 in incentives.
Hill's new deal more accurately reflects his value to the team. It acknowledges that his off-field issues compromised the status his previous deal reflected.