When the Buffalo Bills signed free agent cornerback Vontae Davis last month, the contract numbers were very much up in the air. With incentives based on playing time and more, the Bills protected themselves as Davis has only played in 19 games over the last two years. Ben Volin has the most detailed breakdown of Davis’ contract so far, but it still has questions.
When we reported the contract numbers at the time, we said Davis’ cap hit would be $5 million but new information has been released lowering his cap number. Instead of $5 million in salary, Davis’ contract is split into several bonuses, some being Likely To Be Earned (LTBE) and some Not Likely To Be Earned (NLTBE). Those are the formal designations and are considered LTBE if he achieved the incentive level in 2017. If they are LTBE, they count against the 2018 cap. If they are NLTBE, they count in 2019 and only if he achieves them.
First, Davis was paid $1.5 million in signing bonus money and will earn another $250,000 before the season as a workout bonus. Of his $2.25 million salary, $2 million of it is guaranteed, so Buffalo is on the hook for at least $3.5 million even if Davis never plays a down.
Then, Davis has two separate per-game roster bonuses. He’ll make $15,625 for every game he is on the roster and $46,875 more for every game he is active. Davis was active for five games in 2017, so the LTBE portion of that bonus totals $234,375 while the NLTBE portion is $515,625. Davis was on the Colts roster for nine games in 2017, so the LTBE portion is $140,625 while the NLTBE portion is $109,375. If Davis exceeds five games active or nine games on the roster, the bonus money he earns will be applied toward the 2019 cap as will any of the playing time incentives he earned.
Here is a complete breakdown. What counts in 2018 is in bold type.
Signing bonus: $1.5 million
Workout bonus: $250,000
Base salary: $2.25 million
Roster bonus: $750,000 ($46,875 per game active)
LTBE portion: $234,375
Roster bonus: $250,000 ($15,625 each game on the 53)
LTBE portion: $140,625
Playing time incentives: $3 million
2018 cap number: $4.375 million