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Pouncey’s deal with Steelers surpasses Alex Mack’s contract

Maurkice-Pouncey

Maurkice-Pouncey

The Steelers have locked Maurkice Pouncey to a rich five-year extension. NFL contracts are very confusing, but the deal is $44 million over five years and paid the center a $13 million signing bonus. There was a lot of gnashing of teeth over Alex Mack’s money and he wasn’t coming off of an ACL tear. Mack’s deal had no signing bonus, but was fully guaranteed salary for the first two years totaling $18 million.

Pro Football Talk is good with NFL contract stuff and had this to say.

Amazingly, the new money exceeds the package paid earlier this year by the Browns to center Alex Mack. Mack had signed a five-year, $42 million offer sheet in Jacksonville, which the Browns matched. Maurkice Pouncey’s $44 million over five comes roughly nine months after tearing an ACL — and with a full year left on his rookie deal.

I don’t get the feeling that Alex Mack is the kind of guy who is worried about being “the highest paid center in the NFL” but even he might admit in a private moment that it was a hell of a short run for him with that title belt. For the Browns, it seems to be something of a validation of their process and decision to ultimately sign Alex Mack to the offer sheet the Jags constructed. As the league’s salary cap continues to grow, it’s hard to figure out all the proper efficiencies to signing players and how much to spend on various position groups on the roster to give yourself the best chance to win.

Let’s hope the Browns are on to something with the amount of money they are committing to their offensive line. Although, that would mean the Steelers are, too, with their new deal for Maurkice  Pouncey.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    This comes off to me as a role reversal. It used to be the Steelers of the world who would sign a top player to a long-term contract, and then months later the Browns would sign a good but injured or good but not quite that good player to a similar contract.

    It’s nice to not be the team that needs to defend its signings.

  • Harv 21

    The Steelers have been savvy about ruthlessly allocating their resources, and frequently dump excellent players guys in their prime when they’ve groomed someone younger and cheaper. This tells me two things:

    – Farmer was correct envisioning a smart, dependable center as crucial to the current NFL game.

    – Since other teams obviously agree about the value of such a center, Mack may opt out for even greater riches. If the price of these guys keeps increasing, in two years we may actually wish the Jags had offered him somewhat more, an amount more in line with what will be his 2016 market value.

  • mgbode

    the last to sign is generally the highest paid (even if by just a tiny amount)

  • Ennh… when you say PFT is good with NFL contract stuff I think you meant to say “Mike Florio is a suspect reporter on contract stuff and quite a few other things.”

    I’m looking at Pouncey with 13M gtd and Mack with 26M guaranteed. That’s really where it begins and ends.

    Viewing NFL contracts based on ‘total dollars’ would be like evaluating a pitcher on win-loss (from a WFNYJon point-of-view). It’s just not even close to remotely useful.

  • Now, this seems high, but I have stated this before … current salary for the highest in a position does not set the market for future salaries because of the ever expanding salary cap, increased significantly, and expected to increase significantly again next year. The proper measure is the percentage of the current salary cap of a position of a player of similar value expanded out over the expected average salary cap over the guaranteed portion of a contract. Given the huge percentage increase in salary cap, that can translate to a lot of money. It ends up being more than that when you figure minimum salaries do not raise at the same rate, meaning more money available for elite players. That does not mean the Pouncey investment is good; it just means that it is not necessarily as much of a reach as it can seem at first glance. Mack did not necessarily set a new market; he simply was paid the market rate at the current exorbitant rate of salary cap inflation.

  • In this case, I meant they get the details and are savvy about looking only at guaranteed dollars. My reading of the deal indicates that Pouncey’s guaranteed money is probably more than just $13 million for all practical purposes.

    I think it’s too early for anyone to know or that Spotrac info to be 100% reliable. I’m guessing Pouncey has some guarantees in there beyond just the signing bonus, at least for injury. Maybe not though.

  • Harv 21

    You have verified that Pouncey’s $13m bonus is the only amount guaranteed? If true I’m at a loss as to why he signed. Especially given Pittsburgh’s history of dumping players scheduled for significant paydays. And you are correct: in a world where contracts aren’t guaranteed, the guaranteed $ is not only the most important number, it’s the only number.

  • have i verified it? no. i’m not the guy reporting pouncey as the highest paid center. if i were splashing a headline like that on my site, i assure you i would be verifying that data before writing something same.

  • again, ennnnnh. maybe.

    but the PFT report is going with total dollars and annualized total dollars to arrive at the pouncey with bigger contract narrative. yeah sure, it’s bigger but we know by now what happens to 29 yr old linemen with non-guaranteed big cap hits.

    i do find florio suspect and this piece is instructive on why. it’s just soft to write a report on ‘highest-paid center’ and not include data on guaranteed dollars.

  • RGB

    I thought Gordon was the highest, paid player in the league.

  • mgbode

    only due to Bess and Blackmon currently being considered out of the league

  • nj0

    After ’15, Mack can void the remaining years. So in effect he signed a two-year $26M guaranteed deal that will let him hit free agency again in 2016 at the age of 30.

    It’s hard to judge not knowing the specifics of the Pouncey deal, but it would have to be pretty amazing to be better than Mack’s deal imo.

  • vespo09

    +1 ,

  • Picking up Harv’s challenge from below:
    “As part of the deal, Pouncey will earn $20.25 million in total bonus money that includes a $13 million signing bonus and the rest in roster bonuses.”
    http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/steelers/2014/06/12/Steelers-sign-center-Pouncey-to-six-year-contract/stories/201406120289#ixzz34RppTrwD

    Roster bonuses are not guaranteed. Pouncey gets 13M guaranteed. Mack gets 26M. Thus Mack’s contract surpasses Pouncey’s. Unless we’re counting the pretend dollars at the back end of an NFL contract.

    Understood that PFT and ESPN also reported this wrong. Understood that this is a nit. But thought it was worth a harder look.

  • CB Everett

    Just out of curiosity, did you run the numbers to find that’s the case? I’d be curious to know if % of total cap (adjusted for inflation) Mack and Pouncey are in fact just paid the customary “top” (3 or 5) center rate in the league–or if they (and their respective positions) have encroached into a higher % of the total pie.

  • Kanick, I believe roster bonuses can be guaranteed. I know that sounds ludicrous on the surface and totally illogical, but I truly believe they can be guaranteed.

    The reason that you would do this of course is that if they were SIGNING bonuses, they’d start hitting the cap today and he’d have the cash in his pocket. By calling them roster bonuses and guaranteeing them, it’s just a timing thing for cap purposes, but I’m nearly positive they CAN be guaranteed.

    Notice the Gazette says Pouncey “will” earn $20.25 million?

    “As part of the deal, Pouncey will earn $20.25 million in total bonus money that includes a $13 million signing bonus and the rest in roster bonuses.”

  • Kanick, I believe roster bonuses can be guaranteed. I know that sounds ludicrous on the surface and totally illogical, but I truly believe they can be guaranteed.

    The reason that you would do this of course is that if they were SIGNING bonuses, they’d start hitting the cap today and he’d have the cash in his pocket. By calling them roster bonuses and guaranteeing them, it’s just a timing thing for cap purposes, but I’m nearly positive they CAN be guaranteed.

    Notice the Gazette says Pouncey “will” earn $20.25 million?

    “As part of the deal, Pouncey will earn $20.25 million in total bonus money that includes a $13 million signing bonus and the rest in roster bonuses.”

  • Eh, Mack is guaranteed 18M through 2 seasons and another 8 through 3 seasons if he doesn’t opt out.

    Pouncey’s deal pays him 13 M guaranteed and 26.5 through 3 seasons.

    These contracts are only different if Pouncey isn’t with the Steelers for the next 3 years. Otherwise, not so much.

  • this is florio: “Thanks to non-guaranteed roster bonuses payable on the third day of the 2015 and 2016 league years, …”

    i dunno man. from here is looks like florio and schefter are just copy/pasting a steelers press release with the talking point ‘highest paid center.’

  • mother of god people!

    1. MACK GUARANTEED 26M. (whether he takes it or not is his biz.)
    2. POUNCEY GUARANTEED 13M. (roster bonus MEANS not guaranteed. roster bonus paid IF YOU MAKE ROSTER.)

    cripes.

  • mgbode

    signing bonus would be spread out over the length of the deal.
    roster bonus counts fully on the cap for that specific year.

    so, yeah, they could defer cap casualty, but at a heightened cost when it does hit.

    you are correct in that roster bonuses can be guaranteed (NFL has it so you can construct contracts in almost any fashion with guarantees), but they usually are not guaranteed.

  • Harv 21

    I don’t glean the guaranteed amount from that article. Usually that stuff comes out in the days after the signing. Or quite possible I’m missing something.

  • Harv 21

    eats, shoots and leaves

  • Harv 21

    sorry, man, missed your next comment below

  • Harv 21

    ok, I give up, who is the mother of god people?

    [just channeling my inner RGB. Also, delaying return to work]

  • nj0

    Which is the beauty of the Mack deal. He gets hurt or falls off the cliff? He’s got $26M in his pocket. He continues to be the best center in football? He walks away after two years with $18M and gets another chunk of guaranteed money. I’m not sure on the specific of the tags.Can the Browns hit him with one again? Assuming they can’t, it means hitting the free market as a true free agent with multiple suitors driving up his price.

    I’m with JK on this one. We all know that the devil’s in the details on NFL contracts so the whole “biggest contract ever” hype gets annoying.

  • dany targaryen after she routes kings landing?

  • So the gripe is on the VERY remote chance that Pouncey isn’t on the Steelers for the next three seasons?

    Really?

    They’re not cutting him this year. 13M cap hit.

    They’re not cutting him next year. 10.4M cap hit.

    So what you’re arguing here is that the Steelers may cut him prior to the 2016 season? As in, a really good center somehow falls off a cliff talent wise and they cut bait before year three?

    Please.