When the Buffalo Bills signed Fred Jackson to a two-year contract extension earlier this week, they didn't pay a ton of new money to their top rusher - but they did make his salary more comparable to other running backs in the NFL.
Before we compare Jackson's contract to the rest of the running backs in the NFL, it's important to determine what numbers we're going to use. The extension kept Jackson's 2012 base salary intact, while adding a signing bonus to be paid immediately and two additional years of base salary totaling $5.7 million plus incentives.
2012: $1.9 million base salary from old contract, plus $3 million signing bonus from new contract
2013: $2.85 million base salary (average)
2014: $2.85 million base salary (average)
Total new money: $8.7 million new money, $10.6 million total for three years
Let's start by examining the lowest figure first. If we take Jackson's contract as a three-year agreement, he's averaging just over $3.6 million a season over the remainder of the deal. According to Spotrac.com, that places Jackson 18th in the NFL for average salary. It's behind current teammate C.J. Spiller (13th at a $5.0 million average) and former teammate Marshawn Lynch (sixth at a $7.75 million average).
If you leave Jackson's old contract alone and look at the two-year extension and the $8.7 million in new money, Jackson averages $4.35 million. That figure would place Jackson just two spots higher at 16th in the league, moving him past Jonathan Stewart and Ryan Matthews.
In either scenario, the signing bonus is as much of a thank you gift as a payment for future performance. As Jackson's performance declines, so does his base salary and cap figure. That's good news for the Bills in the long run.
For the record, Jackson's old contract averaged $1.87 million a season, which would stand at 34th in the league, just behind Arizona's LaRod Stephens-Howling. Here's the whole list of running backs averaging a higher salary than Jackson's current deal:
|1. Adrian Peterson||$13.7 million|
|2. Darren McFadden||$10 million|
|3. Chris Johnson||$9.2 million|
|4. Arian Foster
|5. DeAngelo Williams||$8.6 million|
|6. Marshawn Lynch||$7.8 million|
|7t. Ray Rice||$7.7 million|
|7t. Matt Forte||$7.7 million|
|9. Jamaal Charles||$6.5 million|
|10. Frank Gore||$6.4 million|
|11. Maurice Jones-Drew
|12. Michael Turner
|13. C.J. Spiller
|14. Reggie Bush
|15. Ahmad Bradshaw||$4.5 million|
|16. Ryan Matthews
|17. Jonathan Stewart
|18. Fred Jackson