January 16th, 2017
The NFL season has officially come to an end for the Houston Texans with their loss to the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The front office group has already been laying plans for the 2017 league year and one of the biggest questions is will A.J. Bouye be resigned?
Bouye is an unrestricted free agent come March 9th, 2017 and the Texans will likely make a strong push to resign the emerging cornerback. Bouye, originally an undrafted free agent signed by the Texans in 2013, has remained in their system growing and learning. When Kevin Johnson’s season ended with a foot injury, Bouye was thrust into a more prominent role on the defense with him becoming the starter. Bouye’s snaps continually increased as the season progressed becoming the starter on the outside opposite of Johnathan Joseph. Bouye’s services will be highly sought by other NFL teams this upcoming offseason. Many corner needy NFL teams will be flush with cap space to offer Bouye a sizable contract.
In an attempt to project what kind of contract Bouye will receive, I have compared recent contracts of players that I feel are comparable in skill and value. The contracts were signed in 2014, 2015, and 2016 including both free agent contracts as well as extension contracts.
Table 1: Cornerback Market Comparables 2014 through 2016
The above table has been sorted based on Total Contract Value. Based on this set of players the goal for Bouye’s camp will be targeting Janoris Jenkins’ contract.
Table 2: Game Logs for Comparable Cornerback Market
The above table represents comparable statistics the 3 years prior to signing the new contract. The Pro Football Focus grade is an average of the three representative seasons. PD represents Passes Defended. Bouye’s total snap count is lower since he was not a starter prior to the 2016 regular season.
Table 3: Comparable Cornerback Contract Cash Flow
The above table represents cash flow over the life of the contract. 3 year cash flow is one of the biggest metrics that teams and agents refer to when comparing contract value. NFL contracts are generally not fully guaranteed and players rarely see the full length of a long term contract, making the first 3 years of the contract the most important. Janoris Jenkins’ contract is very strong in this metric when compared to the other contracts. The table is sorted by Average Per Year value.
Now that we have the comparable statistics both performance and contract value, it is time to now move to the contract offer. In this scenario the Texans & Bouye want to remain together. The first offer will be the initial offer from the team, which will be on the lower end. The second offer will be from Bouye’s camp, which will be on the very high end. Then the third offer represents the agreement between both parties.
Table 4: Initial Offer From Team
The initial team offer is a 4 year contract worth $42,000,000 with $21,000,000 fully guaranteed upon signing. The guarantee includes a $10,000,000 signing bonus and $11,000,000 in guaranteed salary in the first two years of the contract. Each season will have $500,000 worth of roster bonuses paid out on a per game active basis. Average per year is $10,500,000 and a 3 year cash flow of $31,000,000. This would put Bouye well behind Jenkins in APY, Guarantee, and 3 year flow; and behind Slay in APY & Guarantee but a better 3 year cash flow.
Table 5: Initial Offer from Player/Agent
The initial offer from the agent is a 4 year contract worth $52,000,000 with $25,000,000 fully guaranteed upon signing. The initial guarantee includes a $14,000,000 signing bonus and $11,000,000 in guaranteed salary in the first two years. There is a $4,000,000 roster bonus on the 5th day of the 2018 league year that would vest in the back half of 2017. An additional $2,500,000 roster bonus that would be due on the 5th day of the 2020 league year. The contract does not include any roster bonus money paid on a per game basis. Average per year is $13,000,000 and 3 year cash flow is $39,500,000. This would eclipse Jenkins in the APY metric, and be just under the 3 year cash flow metric, but come up short on the initial guarantee. However the second year roster bonus, while not considered fully guaranteed at signing, would be considered guaranteed therefore topping Jenkins’.
Table 6: Agreement Between Team & Player
The agreement between the two parties is a 4 year contract worth $46,000,000 with $22,500,000 fully guaranteed upon signing, or 49% of the contract would be guaranteed up front. The initial guarantee includes a $12,000,000 signing bonus and $10,500,000 in guaranteed salary in the first two years. The contract contains a $2,000,000 roster bonus in 2018 due on the 15th day of the league year; which would vest in November 2017. The team would have the option to convert to a signing bonus at their discretion. $500,000 in annual roster bonuses included, which are paid on a per game active basis. Average per year is $11,500,000 and 3 year cash flow is $34,500,000.
This contract is probably on the low end of what A.J. Bouye would receive but should provide an idea of where the market may value him. The agreement contract has some consistency with past contracts provided by the Texans. If things were to not work out the team could move on in 2019 with $6,000,000 in dead money and saving $6,000,000 in cap space. The contract comes in below Jenkins in all three major contract metrics. We must remember Jenkins drafted in the 2nd round versus Bouye being undrafted; and Jenkins snap counts almost double Bouye’s in the 3 years prior to contract signing.
Other free agent players to watch this coming offseason that could affect Bouye’s market value: Stephen Gilmore out of Buffalo, Dre Kirkpatrick out of Cincinnati, Trumaine Johnson out of St. Louis, Morris Claiborne out of Dallas, and Nolan Carroll out of Philadelphia. Contract signings by these players could affect Bouye’s market value in either direction.