The Buffalo Bills and a beloved player were dealt a brutal blow on Friday, when it was reported that center Eric Wood had suffered a career-ending neck injury. Wood was a solid cornerstone of the offensive line for nine seasons and signed a contract extension last offseason.
The salary cap ramifications of his retirement as they pertain to the new deal are very noteworthy. Wood’s 2018 salary of $4.8 million is guaranteed for injury, meaning Buffalo will pay it since this is a football-related injury. (All figures are from Spotrac.)
Buffalo will also be on the hook for Wood’s pro-rated portion of his signing bonus. In both 2018 and 2019, Wood has $2.167 million in signing bonus money that will need to be accounted for on the salary cap. That results in a $4.33 dead money cap hit in addition to $1.26 million in dead money from his contract restructure from last offseason AND the salary.
All told, Wood will count an astounding $10.39 million against the salary cap in 2018. Yikes.
If they choose to, Buffalo and Wood could theoretically wait until after June 1 to file the paper work and spread out a meager portion of the cap hit to 2019. It would only be one year of the signing bonus money, saving $2.167 for a total cap hit in 2018 of $8.22 million.
There is a “but” here. When a player retires, the team has the option to pursue the return of a portion of the signing bonus equal to the unplayed portions of the contract, and that money is no longer counted against the salary cap. This is typically done through an arbitrator and not in situations like this, but the Bills have a massive cap hit coming their way.
Cap hit to the Bills
2018 salary guaranteed for injury: $4.8 million
Remaining signing bonus money: $4.33 million
Remaining dead money from restructured contract: $1.26 million
Total cap hit: $10.39 million