Breaking down Paul Kruger’s and Desmond Bryant’s Browns contracts

PR photo from Cleveland Browns press conference
PR photo from Cleveland Browns press conference

PR photo from Cleveland Browns press conference

After talking to Brendan Leister on the podcast today, I wanted to dig in further to see just how the salary cap played out for the Browns with Joe Banner’s style. On last night they reposted Joel Corry’s report that Banner was using roster bonuses in order to take “bonus” money and front-load it into Paul Kruger and Desmond Bryant’s contracts. It is important in a capped league to understand the dynamics of roster building, so here it goes.

This is what I think Paul Kruger’s deal looks like as the Browns have negotiated it after compiling all the sources.

Signing BonusRoster BonusSalaryCap

Now, if the Browns hadn’t used the roster bonus to front load the bonus cash, this is how it could have looked.

Signing BonusRoster BonusSalaryCap

There’s a method to the “madness.” Not only are the cap numbers obviously higher in the second scenario, but where it really hurts is if the Browns had to cut Paul Kruger for some reason. If Kruger turns out to be an utter bust and can’t play – however unlikely that might be – the Browns are in a position that they would actually save money on the cap if they cut him before the second year. Yes, it would have been an expensive cash proposition for Jimmy Haslam, but it wouldn’t hurt the Browns nearly as badly competitively.

Let’s say the Browns wanted to cut Kruger before the 2015 NFL season. They would have to take 2015 through 2017 signing bonus all at once, which is $3.6 million. They would do that in order to save his salary of $7 million, meaning that they’d save $3.4 million on the cap.

In the alternate scenario, if the Browns had to cut Paul Kruger before 2015, they’d need to take $2.457 in signing bonus x 3 remaining years = $7.37 million, meaning it would hurt them competitively on the cap to the tune of $0.37  million. In fact, the Browns couldn’t save themselves from Kruger’s deal without it costing them against the cap until the 2016 off-season when they could take a roughly $5 million hit to save $1.5 million in his 2016 salary.

So, just guessing here, but based on Kruger’s deal, here’s a map of what Desmond Bryant’s deal might look like assuming it follows a similar formula. We know that Bryant is getting a $5 million roster bonus and that $15 million is guaranteed, while the total contract is worth $34 million.

Signing BonusRoster BonusSalaryCap

And if that turns out to be the case, should Desmond Bryant become an untenable bust, he could be salary cap neutral as a cut player before the third year.

Granted, from a cash flow perspective this is a worst nightmare scenario for Jimmy Haslam. In the worst-case scenario, he would have paid a lot of up front money for very little on-field production. Still, in terms of protecting yourself competitive-wise from mistakes, it appears the Browns are using their cap space now to help allay those risks in a very smart way.

For me, this means the Browns can be more competitive right now, but also have the flexibility to cut loose some of these free agent signees later if they need the space to hopefully lock up a draft pick that’s deserving of superstar cash. It’s an efficiency measure, and in a league where everyone has the same salary cap, the importance of efficiency in roster construction can’t be overstated.

(Photo – Cleveland Browns)

  • Harv 21

    thanks, Craig, very clear. It seems that from the player/agent perspective the annual income tax hit the early years is the same, whether called roster bonus, signing bonus or salary. But if Kruger should (wild example) get on a crotch rocket before camp and ruin his knee for good, he’s out the roster bonus and has about $1.9m guaranteed, that’s it.

    Guessing his agent will not let him leave the house until faxes are exchanged with Lloyds of London.

  • saggy

    i love this type of info. a very informative article. good to get a view of what the FO might be thinking….

  • Chucky Brown

    a multi million dollar contract was just signed, and no one could muster a suit or tie for the press conference?

  • mgbode

    Thanks Craig.

    One thing that confuses me: I understand using roster bonuses instead of salary in future years. It helps the player know he is not going to be cut by forcing a deadline on the decision (and usually just before FA opens). However, what is the point in using a roster bonus in year1 instead of straight salary? It’s not like we are going to cut Kruger before that roster bonus takes effect this year, so why not just make it salary? I’m sure there is a reason, but I don’t know it.

  • DraftBrowns Ryan

    Awesome piece Craig. Glad sites likes yours and ours can make sense of these things because the mainstream media doesn’t quite seem a.) able or b.) willing to tackle the details of such endeavors. These things quite simply cannot go ignored.