Contract breakdown: McClain, McGee, Swearinger and Pryor

I broke down the contracts of the guys who left, so it only seems fair I do the same for the new arrivals.

Thanks again to overthecap.com for the numbers.

Terrell McClain

Age: 28 (29 in July)
Years: 4
Total value: $21m
Guarantees: $7.25m at signing

mcclain

McClain’s guaranteed money is made up of a pro-rated $5m signing bonus, and his year one base salary.

McClain was a rotational player in Dallas and isn’t being given the kind of contract to suggest that’s about to change. He earned the moniker of being a run-stuffer, but last season played 500 snaps for the Cowboys with only 37% coming as a run defender.

Grade: C
The money isn’t exactly bank-breaking, but the bigger issue for me is McClain has never really shown enough to suggest there’s a breakout coming.

Stacy McGee

Age: 27
Years: 5
Total value: $25m
Guarantees: $6.25m at signing

mcgee

McGee’s guarantees come in the form of a $4m signing bonus and his year one base salary Looks pretty similar to McClain’s, doesn’t it? That’s because it is, just stretched over one more year.

McGee is another player coming from a bit-part role. He played just 242 snaps for Oakland last season, but did put some good plays on film. It’s probably not unfair to suggest he has a little more upside than McClain.

Grade: C+
This gets a bump over McClain because McGee is younger, and is probably the more likely of the two to outplay his deal.

DJ Swearinger

Age: 25 (26 in September)
Years: 3
Total value: $13.5m
Guarantees: $6m at signing

swearinger

Swearinger got a $4m signing bonus along with his year one base salary fully guaranteed.

Swearinger has bounced around the league so far in his career – two years as a Texan, a brief stint in Tampa Bay before completing his rookie deal in Arizona. But it’s the most recent outing Redskins fans need to take note of, where as a Cardinal he put together an excellent season. Playing in a starting role, he gained a reputation as being a hard-hitting, box-playing safety, but it’s actually his coverage skills that are underrated. Make no mistake, he should not be considered a pure strong safety, and showed the skills and versatility in 2016 to suggest he’ll be a good fit in a Redskins secondary that has not recently used clearly defined strong and free roles.

Grade: B+
I really like this deal. For a player who played so well last season, it looks like a bit of a bargain. But of course, because that was the first such season he’s managed, there is always the risk it might be the only one. Luckily, that risk is reflected well in the contract.

Terrelle Pryor

Age: 27 (28 in July)
Years: 1
Total value: $6m
Guarantees: $6m at signing

pryor

This one is pretty self-explanatory. You may have seen the reports say the deal is worth $8m – this is because there is an additional $2m that Pryor can earn in incentives. Because those incentives are considered “Not Like To Be Earned”(in other words, it’s likely a statistical metric Pryor didn’t reach last season), it won’t count against the Redskins 2017 cap.

This is a nice one to talk about because there are seemingly so few negatives. Pryor was reportedly seeking a long-term deal in excess of $10m. That was a little too rich for my blood, and apparently the rest of the NFL as well. Seems he preferred to roll the dice on a “prove-it” deal now and a bigger pay-day next season, rather than settling for a contract he thinks he’s better than now. There’s a lot of sense in that, because he flashed moments of true excellence in 2016. His transition to wide receiver and the growth he’s shown since is nothing short of remarkable, and pretty unprecedented.

What happens after 2017? If he produces like he should, he’ll get his money. Maybe that would be with the Redskins, maybe not, but either way it should be a lot of fun watching Pryor play in burgundy and gold this season.

Grade: A
I find it hard to give it any less, purely because there’s so little downside. Unless something disastrous happens or there are unforeseen off-field issues it’s hard to imagine Pryor not producing at least respectable , if not mind-blowing numbers. Worst case scenario is it’s $6m lost, but the upside is through the roof.

Addendum: Use of bonuses

Redskins Vice President of football administration and contracts guru Eric Schaffer is a fan of the signing bonus. That’s clear throughout most deals we make. I’m beginning to wonder though, in an era where teams are getting smarter and smarter at finding new and ingenious ways to manipulate the cap, whether the Redskins also need to evaluate the way they do business.

That’s not to say there is anything in inherently wrong with a signing bonus, but by its very nature it tends to lead to more situations where there is a much higher risk that the team incurs dead cap money later down the line, and the Redskins never really seem particularly bothered with that.

Let’s say for instance, McGee and McClain don’t really work out. Let’s go one step further and say they both stink in 2017. I really hope that doesn’t happen, but it’s not inconceivable. In that instance, they end up getting demoted down the depth chart when 2018 rolls around. They’d probably stick around another season. But in 2019 if you wanted to cut both, it would be $5m in dead money. Another example is Vernon Davis, who got a three-year deal with a signing bonus, even though he’ll be 36 in the final year. The odds are quite high he won’t see that deal out, and the team will incur dead money. It just seems unnecessary.

I’m not advocating wholesale changes, but it would be nice to see a little more creativity, and a lower risk of the team having to take dead money cap hits.

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