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How $100 Million Becomes $62.2 Million

 Deion Sanders (Post File Photo)
  For salary-cap accounting purposes, an NFL player's signing bonus is prorated over the duration of his contract, even though the player generally receives the money up front. A player's salary-cap number for a season is that prorated portion of his signing bonus plus his salary, which usually is not guaranteed and thus is paid only if he is on the team. The $8-million signing bonus in Deion Sanders's seven-year, $56-million contract with the Redskins counts $1.14 million per season against the cap. Here is how Sanders's contract works under cap accounting rules:

Season Salary Cap Number
2000 $500,000 $1.64 million
2001 $3.5 million $4.64 million
2002 $6 million $7.14 million
2003 $9 million $10.14 million
2004 $9 million $10.14 million
2005 $10 million $11.14 million
2006 $10 million $11.14 million
Note: Figures are rounded to the nearest $10,000.

 
The contracts of the Redskins' other major free-agent acquisitions this offseason are similarly cap-friendly:

Player Total Contract Take-Home# 2000 Cap No.*
Deion Sanders 7 years, $56 million $8.5 million $1.64 million
Bruce Smith 5 years, $25 million $4.75 million $1.35 million
Mark Carrier 3 years, $15.5 million $3.44 million $1.04 million
Jeff George 4 years, $18.25 million $2.5 million $1 million
# Signing bonus and salary for the 2000 season.
* Amount the player counts against the Redskins' salary cap for the 2000 season.

 

The problem for NFL teams comes when too much salary-cap space is devoted to players no longer on the roster, which some league executives refer to as "dead money." If, for instance, Sanders plays only two seasons of his contract, the Redskins would not be obligated to pay his salaries in the remaining five years of the deal. But under a cap-accounting procedure known as acceleration, the remaining uncounted bonus money would count against the Redskins' salary cap the following season (or the season after that if he were to be released after June 1).

Season NFL Salary Cap Redskins' "Dead Money" (Pct. of Cap)*
1997 $41.4 million $3.9 million (9.4%)
1998 $52.4 million $1.4 million (2.7%)
1999 $57.3 million $8.1 million (14.1%)
2000 $62.2 million $5.9 million (9.5%)
*Salary-cap money devoted to players not on the roster and the percentage of that season's salary cap that money represents.
Note: Figures are rounded to the nearest $100,000.

 

Copyright 2000 The Washington Post Company
 

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