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AJ McCarron contract details show Buffalo Bills consider him backup quarterback

If he plays, he’ll get more money.

The Buffalo Bills waited and waited to sign their quarterback as all the top-flight options fell to the wayside. When they finally got their man, they got AJ McCarron for a quarter of what the Arizona Cardinals paid the top-paid free agent in 2018.

McCarron signed a two-year, $10 million contract with the possibility of $6.5 million more if his playing time exceeds certain conditions, according to Pro Football Talk. Buffalo signed him for a base value of $5 million per season while also-ran Sam Bradford got $20 million in Arizona.

The signing bonus is $4 million, part of $4.9 million in guaranteed money when his $900,000 guaranteed salary for 2018 is added. He’s almost certain to earn his $100,000 workout bonus, too, giving him $5 million in cash this season.

In 2019, McCarron has a roster bonus of $3 million due on the third day of the league year. This will make the Bills move on from him if they don’t want to pay him and allow him to sign with another team while the market is still accessible early in free agency. His salary jumps by a million dollars to $1.9 million in 2019, with $1.1 million of that already guaranteed for injury and fully guaranteed after his roster bonus is paid.

The Bills also smartly used a mix of incentives and escalators. Incentives are built into both seasons but if he hits those incentives in the first season, his base salary in 2019 will also go up. It’s a solid structure for planning purposes.

He gets $1 million for taking more than 60 percent of the team’s snaps in 2018, another $1 million if he takes more than 75 percent. If he gets that $2 million for taking 75% of the snaps, he will also see his 2019 salary jump by $2.5 million. The same playing time incentives apply in 2019 so he earns the extra $6.5 million if he plays in 75% of the team’s snaps in each of the next two seasons. If he doesn’t play 75% of the snaps in 2018 but does in 2019, that $2.5 million will be earned as an incentive instead of an escalation.

In addition, McCarron will earn $100,000 in each offseason as a workout bonus, per ESPN’s Mike Rodak.

If Buffalo cuts McCarron after the 2018 season, his dead money hit in 2019 will be $2 million, saving the team $5 million in 2019 cap space assuming he did not hit the escalators built into his contract and he isn’t injured.


Signing bonus: $4 million
Salary: $900,000 guaranteed
Workout Bonus: $100,000
Pro-rated portion of signing bonus: $2 million
Not Likely To Be Earned Incentives: Up to $2 million
Cap hit: $3 million


Salary: $1.9 million
Roster bonus: $3 million paid on third day of league year
Workout Bonus: $100,000
Pro-rated portion of signing bonus: $2 million
Not Likely To Be Earned Incentives: Up to $2 million
Not Likely To Be Earned Escalator: $2.5 million
Cap hit: $7 million