The Cincinnati Bengals have decided Andy Dalton is their man for the future. The Bengals announced on Monday they signed Dalton to a 6-year contract that could be worth as much as $115 million. When the deal was first reported, as is ALWAYS the case, people looked at 6 years, $115 million, and leapt to their various conclusions. As is always the case however, things are not always as they appear at first glance.
The follow-up reports indicate the deal is actually more like $96 million, with escalators that can get it up to $115 million. It sounds like the escalators are related to the playoffs. PFT was among the first to report that the deal includes a $12 million signing bonus, and then a $5 million roster bonus that will be paid in a few days. It sounds
Naturally this deal is getting compared to Colin Kaepernick's own recent extension. Both are signed through the 2020 season, both contain low fully guaranteed money, and both have escalators that boost it up. It sounds like the signing bonus money is very similar, but Kap's deal could earn him more than Dalton. Kap's deal was reported as a 6-year, $126 million deal. In reality, it's a 6-year, $114 million deal. The extra $12 million comes from escalators in the deal.
Kap's contract provides the 49ers with plenty of outs along the way, putting Kap in a bit of a prove it situation. And yet there is nothing new about this. The 49ers do this kind of thing in their contracts, and the Bengals are probably doing the same thing with Dalton's contract. The rolling guarantees are a way of life in a league where teams have the leverage to do it.
Speaking of the numbers, Deadspin had a solid article talking about how ridiculous it is that NFL writers automatically freak out over the numbers of a contract before any details come in. There is the potential for Dalton to earn a lot of money, but given the relatively team friendly nature we can expect in this deal, people can probably avoid losing their minds about this.
If Dalton does not hit the incentives, but sticks around for the life of the deal, he's looking at $96 million. It will probably be re-negotiated over time, but as is, it potentially could be a $16 million per year deal. It's a big chunk of money for a quarterback that is not exactly the most inspiring of quarterbacks, but the quarterback is much more out of whack with reality than any other position in the NFL. It will be interesting to see what this means for Alex Smith. He's not getting a six year contract, but if Dalton can get a quasi-APY of $16 million per year, where does Smith fall in?