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How to correctly interpret Tyrod Taylor’s contract

These are the contract details that matter.

Since last June, no Buffalo Bills contract has received more attention than the one Tyrod Taylor signed on August 12, 2016. However, the details of the deal have been presented in a bad way.

Over the past few years, NFL fans, thanks to a quality analysis from many media members, have come to the realization that NFL contracts, when initially reported, are bloated to make the deals look longer and larger.

Essentially, most of the public now realizes that even the “mega” 6-year, $100 million contracts, are really just two- or three-year deals with considerably less guaranteed and overall dollars than what they read in the splashy, breaking-news headlines. I don’t blame agents for leaking the full contract details... it’s just one of their many job responsibilities.

Reporting that the Bills would owe Tyrod $27.5 million in 2017 if they pick up the option in his contract is technically correct but easily leads readers down the incorrect line of thinking. Reading “$27.5M in 2017” opens the door to believe that’s how much he’ll count against the team’s salary cap in 2017, which isn’t true. Unless you’re Terry Pegula or Kim Pegula (or any owner), a player’s yearly cap hit is the only thing that really matters.

(On that note, we know how much money the Pegulas have and should understand they aren’t afraid to spend if they think it’ll help the Bills or Sabres win their respective championship. Therefore, the “total money spent” is essentially irrelevant.)

If the Bills pick up Tyrod’s option, his cap hit will be $15.9 million in 2017. Yes, that may seem like a lot of money, but relative to the pay starting NFL quarterbacks get today, it’s not. That $15.9 million would be the 20th-highest cap hit among quarterbacks this season. Tyrod’s cap hit in 2018 would be $16.7 million, which, right now, would be the 17th-highest quarterback cap hit that year.

The $27.5 million figure for 2017 comes from the combination of a $12 million base salary in and a $15.5 million signing bonus, which, on the accounting books gets prorated over the life of the contract.

The $30.75 million in guarantees figure is not just in 2017. The added $3.25 million to get from $27.5 to $30.75 million is the portion of Tyrod’s 2018 base salary of $13 million salary in 2018 that would become guaranteed if the Bills pick up his option.