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2020 NFL Free Agency: contract breakdown for Buffalo Bills DT Vernon Butler

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The Buffalo Bills added defensive lineman Vernon Butler on Tuesday night. After recording two sacks combined in his first three seasons, he blew up for six sacks in 2019. His contract reflects that feast and famine and he stands to be rewarded if he can duplicate that success.

Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle tweeted out specifics of the deal. It’s a two-year, $15 million deal with escalators and incentives built in that could add another $3 million.

The fully guaranteed money in the deal is all in year one: signing bonus ($2 million), 2020 roster bonus ($3 million), and his 2020 salary ($2.8 million). That’s $7.8 million in fully guaranteed money in addition to $1.5 million in year two that’s guaranteed for injury.

He has $750,000 incentives built into each season for reaching a certain number of sacks. We’re counting the incentive as a Likely To Be Earned incentive for now since the number is probably 5 or 6 sacks, and he notched 6 sacks last year. If it’s higher than six, it won’t count on the cap until he actually hits the number.

There is also a $1.5 million salary escalator built into the contract. If he reaches a certain number of sacks in 2020, his base salary will also go up in 2021. That’s in addition to the incentive discussed in the previous chapter. We don’t know what that number is just like the incentive.

If Butler’s sack numbers fall off and they release him after one year, it will have cost them $8.15 million for one season and they’ll have just $1 million in dead cap money to absorb if they release him.

2020
Signing bonus: $1 million
Roster bonus: $3 million (guaranteed)
Workout bonus: $100,000
Salary: $2.8 million (guaranteed)
Incentive: $750,000 for sacks (We’re counting it as LTBE)
Per-game roster bonus: $250,000 ($15,625 per game) (218,750 LTBE)

Cap hit: $7,868,750

2021
Signing bonus: $1 million
Roster bonus: $1 million
Workout bonus: $100,000
Salary: $5.5 million ($1.5 million guaranteed for injury)
Salary escalator: $1.5 million based on 2020 sacks
Incentive: $750,000 for sacks
Per-game roster bonus: $250,000 ($15,625 per game)

Cap hit: $8.6 million up to $10.1 million
Dead cap if cut: $1 million
Cap savings if cut: $7.6 million up to $9.1 million