The Houston Texans have a big decision with upcoming free agent Kareem Jackson. Jackson is set to become an unrestricted free agent at the start of the new league year on March 10, 2015. Jackson will have completed the 5th year of his rookie contract with Houston; and will likely be a highly sought cornerback on the open market.
I wanted to take a look at what kind of contract Jackson could command. It was reported that Houston offered Jackson an extension in August 2014, which Jackson turned down. Jackson’s camp knew his value was rising, and combined with the weak cornerback free agent class for 2015; Jackson made a decision to bet on himself and won.
For this experiment I examined 6 other cornerback contracts from the past couple of seasons; mainly contracts for the players just below elite level. I excluded players like Revis, Sherman, Peterson, etc for this examination. The contracts I reviewed were Vontae Davis, Alterraun Verner, Sam Shields, Ladrius Webb, Dominque Rodgers-Cromartie, and Brent Grimes. These players just signed their 2nd contract in the past two seasons, and have production somewhat inline with Jackson.
Most of these contracts were 4 or 5 year deals with a total value of approximately $30-$50 million, contract average value of $8-$9 million per year. Fully guaranteed money varied from $8 million up to $16 million. Some of the contract with lower initial guarantees offered 2nd year guarantees.
Based on this research I feel that Jackson will easily command a 5 year contract with a total value of $50 million, averaging $10 million per season. The big contracts signed by the elite level players have inflated the salary for the cornerback market.
There are a few ways the Texans could structure this deal. The Houston front office has trended to a new method of the way they structure their contracts. If you look back to 2011-2012, Houston would use large signing bonus money with very little salary guarantees. This is great to the player, but leaves dead money onto the contract for the team to absorb should the player be released. The Brian Cushing contract showed a move towards less signing bonus with an option bonus and some guaranteed salary. Then the JJ Watt contract revealed the move to more guaranteed salary with roster bonus money. These changes are favorable for the team, as it only locks the player down for 2 or 3 years while leaving the team a way to move on with little consequence.
I believe Jackson will get a 5 year contract totaling value of $47.5 million with an average of $9.5 million per year. This will include $15.5 million in fully guaranteed money up front. This includes a $7.5 million signing bonus, $3.5 million roster bonus in the first year, guaranteed $2.5 million 2015 salary, and $2 million of the 2016 base salary. The remaining $4 million of the 2016 base salary would become guaranteed on the 5th day of the 2016 league year. Each game Jackson is active, he will earn $31,250 for a total of $500,000 per season.
Jackson’s cap charges would be: $8 million, $8 million, $9.5 million, $10.5 million, and $11.5 million. Positive cap savings would be available in the third year at $5 million should the team need to release or trade Jackson.
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