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2022 NFL Free Agency: Matt Barkley contract details

Guaranteed money? In this economy?

Matt Warren is Associate Director of NFL coverage for SB Nation and previously covered the Bills for Buffalo Rumblings for more than a decade.

The Buffalo Bills upgraded at backup quarterback last offseason, letting Matt Barkley walk and signing former top-2 pick Mitch Trubisky. Barkley bounced around, spending the preseason and first two months on the practice squad with the Tennessee Titans. The Carolina Panthers added him to their active roster for seven weeks when they had QB injuries but he was cut and claimed by the Atlanta Falcons, who then cut him and placed him on their practice squad.

In short, people like Barkley as a veteran backstop option, but not as Plan A, B, or C. The contract he signed with the Bills in free agency reflects that and points toward him taking over the Davis Webb “break glass in case of emergency” QB on the practice squad in 2022.

As part of the contract, Barkley received a $25,000 signing bonus and $100,000 in guaranteed money. That total of $125,000 is his dead-cap hit if he’s cut.

His salary of $1.12 million is the veteran minimum for the number of years he has in the NFL and his cap hit is only $920,000 thanks to the Veteran Salary Benefit.

The NFL’s Veteran Salary Benefit is written into the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Formerly known as the Veteran Minimum Exception, it was re-labeled in the 2021 CBA and allows teams to count veterans at a lower cap number while paying them more money. It can only be used on players with more than four seasons of experience making the veteran minimum base salary and teams can throw in up to $152,500 in additional compensation in the 2022 NFL year. After all that, the player’s cap hit is reduced to that of a player with two accredited seasons plus the additional compensation.

Barkley didn’t receive the maximum allowable $152,500 in additional compensation, though, as he only signed for a $25,000 signing bonus. Marquel Lee and Shaq Lawson both got the higher amount. He didn’t even sign for the highest allowable veteran minimum, if that explains where he’s at in his career or what expectations you may have.

Signing bonus: $25,000
Base salary: $1.12 million ($100,000 guaranteed)

Cap hit: $920,000
Dead cap if cut: $125,000
Cap savings if cut: $795,000