Here's What Andy Dalton's '$115-Million Contract' Is Actually Worth

Andy Dalton signed what people are calling a six-year, $US115-million contract extension with the Cincinnati Bengals today.

Since Dalton isn’t Tom Brady or Drew Brees or even Jay Cutler, everyone freaked out over that eye-popping figure.

But now the details of the “$115-million contract” are out thanks to ProFootballTalk’s Mike Florio. And it turns out that the deal is not worth anywhere near $US115 million.

Here’s the actual value (via PFT):

  • $22 million guaranteed, all before April 2015
  • $96 million in total base salary over six years from 2015-20 ($74 million in unguaranteed money)
  • $19 million in playoff escalators (additional salary for making the divisional round and conference title game, and winning the Super Bowl)

Since NFL contracts aren’t guaranteed, teams never pay out the full amount of these monster contracts. No one has ever earned the full value of a $US100-million contract. Teams pay out a little guaranteed money up front, and then cut the player without consequence when he fails to live up to his salary.

Cincinnati could cut Dalton after this year and only pay him $US22 million.

This is going to be advertised as a $US115-million contract. It’s not. It’s essentially a series of six one-year contracts with a total value of anywhere from $US22 million to $US115 million.

Bengals owner Mike Brown told SI’s Peter King on Monday, “We’re betting big on him because we believe in him.”

That’s misleading. It’s not a gamble at all. If Dalton stinks, the Bengals can cut him and only lose $US22 million. If he’s good, they can keep him and pay him fair market value. There is very little risk here.

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