Sam Bradford's contract takes some figuring
ST. LOUIS — At first glance, the numbers don't add up in the Sam Bradford contract now on file with the NFL Players Association.
Bradford's six-year deal includes base salaries of $320,000 in 2010, $405,000 in 2011, $1.205 million in 2012, $2.005 million in 2013, $2.805 million in 2014 and $3.605 million in 2015. That adds up to $10.345 million in base salary over the course of Bradford's contract, all of which is guaranteed.
In addition, Bradford is due a $2.88 million roster bonus later this month. And the former OU quarterback also will receive a signing bonus of $17.974 million before the start of the 2011 season.
Why is he getting the signing bonus next season instead of before his rookie season? The simplest way to explain it is that under the current rookie cap rules, getting the bonus money before his second season allows Bradford to max out the contract, dollar-wise.
Add up the $10.345 million in base salary, the $2.88 million roster bonus and the $17.974 million signing bonus, and that gets us to $31.2 million.
In essence, all of that money is guaranteed because the Rams aren't going to cut Bradford this month before the $2.88 million bonus is paid, and the Rams aren't going to cut Bradford before next season, either.
But again, that only gets us to $31.2 million. Where does the rest of the money come in a contract that includes $50 million of guaranteed money, a "basic" value of $78 million, and a maximum value of $86 million?
According to league sources, Bradford's deal balloons to $78 million if he plays in 35 percent of the Rams' offensive snaps this year and leads the team in major passing categories (such as attempts, completions, yards, etc.). The same holds true if he plays in 45 percent of the team's offensive snaps and leads the team in major passing categories in any succeeding year.
Once those incentives kick in to expand Bradford's contract from $31.2 million to $78 million, $19 million of the new money is guaranteed. That gets us to $50 million in guaranteed money (the original $31.2 million plus the $19 million).
And finally, how does Bradford go from $78 million to the maxed out contract at $86 million? Escalator clauses account for the final $8 million. But the final $8 million will be difficult to reach because the escalators are tied to playoff, Super Bowl and Pro Bowl appearances, plus leading the entire NFL in certain statistical categories. Then again, if Bradford and the Rams play well enough for him to earn that final $8 million, it will be money well spent.