“It’s good money, but it’s not ‘all that money’ like people think,” the 6-foot-4, 325-pound offensive tackle says.
With the NFL lockout into its second month, Capers finds himself fighting on two fronts this spring: trying to stay in shape on his own, to preserve his tenuous position on the team, and trying to make ends meet on much less than the $1.9 million average NFL salary or even the $340,000 rookie minimum.
He is not eligible for the NFL Players Association lockout fund, which offers as much as $60,000 to each player, because he was not on the regular 53-man roster last season. To be eligible for those lockout benefits, funded by dues the now defunct union collected during the last two seasons, a player must have been on a 53-man roster and contributing at least since the 2009 season.
January and February are lean months even during a normal offseason, because final game checks are handed out in early January, the week after the last game of the season. But now is when players such as Capers, 24, are starting to feel the effects of the work stoppage.
Savings and bonuses
The Redskins’ offseason conditioning program would have begun in mid-March. Many veteran players earn workout bonuses for attending 85 percent of those sessions. Players such as Capers, meanwhile, would earn between $750 and $850 every two weeks for attending the offseason condition program.
“That’s chump change compared to a lot of guys’ contracts,” Capers admits. “But would it have helped me? Heck yeah!”
Anticipating a lockout, the NFLPA advised players last fall to save as much as possible. Capers’s parents also cautioned him to build his reserves and not overextend himself financially. Capers listened, but things always could be better, he says.
“I saved,” Capers says. “But looking at it now, I should’ve saved more. You’re always kicking yourself. When money’s coming freely, it’s a little harder to think disciplined. Like, I got a luxury apartment in Herndon. My mom was like, ‘Do you need something that fancy?’ But I liked it because I walk downstairs and the grocery store is right there. I want a little entertainment, that’s right there on the corner. Everything is right there. Thinking now, I could’ve gone with something less.”
With no money coming in, Capers said he has started to cut back here and there.
“Me and my girlfriend do a lot more cooking,” says Capers, who grew up just outside New Orleans in Kenner, La. “If we’re going to go out to a movie and dinner or whatever, we really calculate it.”