Why Roseman isn't concerned about millions in dead money originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
The dead money keeps piling up, and Howie Roseman couldn't care less.
It's all part of the plan.
Roseman, speaking Monday at the NFL owner’s meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., explained why the Eagles’ growing stack of salary cap dead money actually makes sense.
As of now, the Eagles have $36,149,164 in dead money counting against their adjusted 2022 cap figure of $224 million, according to Spotrac. Some of this is accidental dead money - from players they released or traded before their contract was up (Zach Ertz, Malik Jackson, etc.) - and some is intentional dead money - from players who had void years written into their contract for the sole purpose of spreading out their cap hit (Alshon Jeffery, Derek Barnett, etc.).
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What is dead money? In simplest terms, base salary in a player contract counts entirely against the cap in the year it’s paid, but the signing bonus is spread out equally over the life of the contract.
Using salary cap trickery, teams have the ability to carve out current cap space by adding void years to contracts, which moves money from the current cap to future caps.
So teams end up with significant cap hits in future years from players who have long since left the team.
Why does this make sense?
Roseman for the first time ever went into great detail explaining the team’s thinking in regard to dead money.
He used home ownership to help illustrate his point.
“It’s no different than – and I’m stealing this from Bryce [Johnston], our cap guy, so I’m not taking ownership of it – but it’s no different than when you’re trying to buy a house,” Roseman said. “If you have the opportunity to buy a house and put all the cash down or the interest rates are really good and you’re going to pay it over time, why wouldn’t you use that money now and understand that as it goes forward you’re going to be able to do that?
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“It’s the same money. If I give somebody $10 and I decide to prorate it, it’s the same $10 that’s going to affect my cap the same way, but if I’m doing it where the value of the cap is not $100 but now it’s $150, why wouldn’t I want to take it in those times?”
In other words, a $10 cap hit when the cap is $100 represents 10 percent of your available cap space. The exact same $10 cap hit when the cap is $150 represents only 6.7 percent of your available cap space.
So move the cap hit forward and the same amount is a lower percentage of your total cap.
Even with a temporary drop in 2020 because of COVID, the NFL’s unadjusted cap has increased from $123.6 million in 2013 to $208.2 million this year, an average increase of about 7 ½ percent. Current estimates – based on projected TV revenue increases - are that the cap will increase to $328.2 million by 2027, which would be an 11 ½ percent increase over the next five years.
“It’s all the same amount of money,” Roseman said. “It’s just when you choose to do it. From our perspective, it felt like the way the cap is going to go going forward, it made sense to have the option to take it in future years.”
The Eagles found themselves in serious cap trouble in 2021, mainly because COVID affected revenues so much in 2020 that the cap unexpectedly dropped from about $198 million in 2020 to just over $182 million in 2021.
“One of the reasons we were so aggressive with (Darius) Slay and (Javon) Hargrave was because we felt like the cap was going to up,” Roseman said. “Definitely did not think there was going to be a pandemic in the world. My fault. Definitely my bad. So that kind of set us back a little.”
Those were some seriously extenuating circumstances. Roseman is confident the Eagles’ policy of kicking the can forward will never hurt the product on the field.
Because even with all their dead money, the Eagles usually wind up with more cap space than most teams, not less.
According to Spotrac, the Eagles currently have the 5th-most 2022 dead money of any NFL team. But they have the 3rd-most cap space at $22.12 million.
“Coming out of (2017 and 2018), trying to be aggressive, we knew at some point we were going to have to take a step back, we were going to pay it, but I would do that 100 times out of 100 times,” Roseman said.
“If you said to me in the next five years we’re going to go to the playoffs four of the five years, we’re going to win one World Championship and then we’re going to have a horrible, (crappy) year, would I sign up for that? Yes? Where do I sign up for that?"