Breaking Down the Interesting Contract Malik Jackson Just Signed

The Malik Jackson deal looks like a five-year contract but is really a three-year contract that can become a two-year contract.

According to a league source who is familiar with the deal, Jackson's contract with the Eagles initially reads like a five-year, $50 million deal but the last two years are guaranteed to void, which makes it either a two-year, $20 million contract or a three-year, $30 million deal.

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First, the basics:

Signing bonus: $9 million
Option bonus: $2.4 million
Roster bonus: $1 million in 2021
Guaranteed: $17 million
2019: $1 million base salary, $2.8 million cap hit
2020: $7.6 million base salary, $10 million cap hit
2021: $9 million base salary, $12.4 million cap hit
2022: $10 million base salary, $12.4 million cap hit
2023: $10 million base salary, $12.4 million cap hit

The guaranteed components are the $9 million signing bonus, the $1 million 2019 base salary and $4.6 million of the 2020 base salary, plus the $2.4 million option bonus.

The 2022 and 2023 years are dummy years that disappear and exist only to delay the cap hit.

Here's what makes this interesting: The Eagles will have to decide what to do with that $2.4 million option bonus before the 2020 season. 

If they do exercise the option, it becomes bonus money that prorates at $600,000 per year - that's $2.4 million over four years.

If they don't exercise the option, the $2.4 million is added to Jackson's $7.6 million 2020 base salary, creating a $10 million base salary and making Jackson an unrestricted free agent after the 2020 season.

By structuring the deal this way, it means the Eagles almost certainly will never release Jackson. 

Why is that important? Because unless the Eagles extend him at some point, he'll become a free agent, which means he's added into the compensatory pick formula.

By adding the $2.4 million to Jackson's contract, it guarantees that his average annual salary won't go below $10 million per year even if it's a two-year deal.

So it's either:

• A two-year, $20 million deal: $9 million signing bonus, $1 million 2019 base, $10 million 2020 base.

• Or a three-year, $30 million deal: $9 million signing bonus, $1 million 2019 base, $7.6 million 2020 base, $9 million 2021 base, $1 million 2021 roster bonus, $2.4 million option bonus.

Whether this turns out to be a two-year or three-year contract, there will be some dead money at the end. But not a ton.

If the Eagles do exercise Jackson's option, their dead money cap hit in 2022 would be $4.8 million - that's two years of the $9 million signing bonus pro-rated at $1.8 million each over five years ($3.6 million) plus two years of the $2.4 million option bonus pro-rated at $600,000 over four years ($1.2 million).

If they don't exercise his option, their dead money hit in 2021 would be $5.4 million - simply the remaining three-fifths of the original $9 million signing bonus, since the option bonus would no longer exist.

The $10 million average makes Jackson the 14th-highest-paid defensive tackle in the league. Fletcher Cox is No. 2 at $17.1 million per year.

NBC Sports Philadelphia Eagles producer Dave Zangaro contributed to this story.

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