The Buffalo Bills signed cornerback Josh Norman to a contract that was reported as a one-year deal with a base of $6 million and a maximum of $8 million, but the actual contract numbers are highly dependent on his ability to make the team out of training camp and stay on the roster all year. Per ESPN’s Dan Graziano, the Bills are only on the hook for roughly $3 million if they cut Norman before the season begins, as part of an incentive-heavy structure.
Graziano reports that Norman’s contract falls into the following breakdown:
Roster bonus: $1.5 million
Workout bonus: $200,000
Opening day roster bonus: $500,000
Base salary: $2.8 million ($1.5 million of which is guaranteed)
Per-game bonus: $1 million ($61,250 per game)
Incentives: $2 million more available for playing time, interceptions, Pro Bowl, and All-Pro selections
Cap hit for now: $8 million
Cap hit if CBA is approved: Likely $5.735 to $6.235 million
What does that mean for Buffalo’s salary cap? If, for whatever reason, Norman shows up to training camp and just looks toasted, the Bills will owe him $3 million for the trial. However, the $1.5 million in guaranteed contract money would be returned to the Bills if Norman signed for at least that much money somewhere else, so it could end up being $1.7 million for the trial after the roster bonus and workout bonus.
Norman’s payment continues in a mostly linear fashion depending on how long he stays rostered by the Bills. Assuming he plays the full season, that would mean $3 million of roster bonuses, $2.8 million of salary, and $200,000 of a workout bonus, adding up to a full $6 million. The additional $2 million mentioned in the original report are sourced from those extra incentives.
If the new Collective Bargaining Agreement is approved and new capped years are added to the current CBA, his cap number would jump down because the incentives would convert to Not Likely To Be Earned. He wasn’t voted to the Pro Bowl or All-Pro teams last year and he only had one interception so he wouldn’t hit those incentive triggers.
Norman’s contract, if he played the whole season, would pay him somewhere between the 21st and 31st most expensive cap hit for the year among NFL cornerbacks—though that number does not include any of this year’s prospective free agents, who could move Norman down the list.