Examining A Possible Contract Extension For Brandon McManus

Yesterday, Brandon McManus signed his one year RFA tender for $2.746 million.  Adam Schefter additionally reported that “[a] long term deal [is] still possible“.  Let’s take a look at what such a deal could look like.

The Broncos have already established McManus among the second tier of kicker contracts.

By giving McManus the second round RFA tender of $2.746 million, it escalated his pay among fellow kickers to 12th overall leaguewide by APY.  It also puts him on the tail end of the second tier of veteran kicker pay by APY that ranges from his $2.746 million to Dan Bailey’s $3.2 million.

Sebastian Janikowski should be considered an outlier due to his unique relationship and tenure with the Raiders. (This is also an excellent time to remind everyone that Al Davis remains the last GM to sink a first round pick into a kicker.)  That leaves a clear first tier by APY established by Steven Gostkowski, Justin Tucker, and Mason Crosby all about $4 million APY.

Guaranteed money also must be observed, and by this measure Crosby drops out of the first tier, and is more comparable to Bailey in only getting $5 million fully guaranteed, as opposed to the eight figure guarantees that Gostkowski and Tucker got.

Does McManus want to gamble that the Broncos might tag him?

If McManus plays out 2017 on his RFA tender, he will be the only pending UFA in 2018 that will be feasible as a franchise or transition tag target. 2017’s franchise and transition tag numbers for kickers were $4.8 million and $4.4 million.  Both figures would establish McManus as the highest paid kicker in the league.

The risk of playing out 2017 on the RFA tender, however, is that the Broncos may simply choose not to tag him on the ground that it’s too much money.  Then he will be subject to the whims of the open market, and it can’t be said for sure whether it will be a good market for kickers or not.

Possible Contract A: The High APY Model

If McManus believes that he can remain a consistently effective kicker for the rest of his 20s, he can try to push for a deal that has a long length with high cash payouts as the contract progresses.  Here’s an example of how such a structure would look:

Year Base Salary Prorated Bonus Roster Bonus Cap Number Dead Money Cap Savings (pre June 1)
2017 $2,746,000 $500,000 $0 $3,246,000 $5,246,000 ($2,000,000)
2018 $2,254,000 $500,000 $1,500,000 $4,254,000 $2,000,000 $2,254,000
2019 $4,000,000 $500,000 $0 $4,500,000 $1,500,000 $3,000,000
2020 $4,500,000 $500,000 $0 $5,000,000 $1,000,000 $4,000,000
2021 $4,500,000 $500,000 $0 $5,000,000 $500,000 $4,500,000

This is a five year, $22 million deal that comes out to an APY of $4.4 million, which would be the highest in the league.  However, in exchange for getting a win for potential payout, McManus cedes to the Broncos in fully guaranteed money.  McManus gets only a $2.5 million signing bonus to go along with his RFA tender, a total of $5.746 million that just barely beats Crosby and Bailey.  McManus also gets only one year (2018) with a roster bonus due near the start of the league year.  This gives the Broncos the power to retain McManus well into training camp and the preseason, even if they want to give him competition at the position should he falter.

Possible Contract B: The High Guarantees Model

Conversely, McManus could decide to pursue a deal that gets him the most assured money in his pocket sooner rather than later.  Here’s what such a contract might look like:

Year Base Salary Prorated Bonus Option Bonus Cap Number Dead Money Cap Savings (pre June 1)
2017 $2,746,000 $1,000,000 $0 $3,746,000 $10,400,000 ($6,654,000)
2018 $3,654,000  $1,000,000 $0 $4,654,000 $6,654,000 ($2,000,000)
2019 $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $400,000 $2,400,000 $2,000,000 $400,000
2020 $1,000,000 $1,000,000 $400,000 $2,400,000 $1,000,000 $1,400,000

McManus gets a cool $10.4 million fully guaranteed, comparable to Gostkowski and Tucker, and is practically uncuttable for the first two years.  But in exchange, he only gets a four year contract, and in Years 3 and 4 he must play on team-friendly base salaries.  The Broncos also get an $800,000 option in 2019 that gives them compensatory pick protection should they want to part ways with McManus after his guaranteed salaries have passed.  The APY comes out only to $3.3 million on a four year, $13.2 million deal, which barely beats out Bailey for the top of the second tier in that regard.

Possible Contract C: Splitting The Tiers

If McManus and the Broncos can come to a mutual agreement that McManus should be one of the better paid kickers–but not among the best paid–then there is room to establish in between the two existing tiers in both APY and full guarantees.  Here’s one way it could be done:

Year Base Salary Prorated Bonus Option Bonus Cap Number Dead Money Cap Savings (pre June 1)
2017 $2,746,000 $500,000 $0 $3,246,000 $7,500,000 ($4,254,000)
2018 $2,254,000 $500,000 $0 $2,754,000 $4,254,000 ($1,500,000)
2019 $2,000,000 $500,000 $100,000 $2,600,000 $1,500,000 $1,100,000
2020 $3,000,000 $500,000 $350,000 $3,850,000 $1,000,000 $2,850,000
2021 $4,000,000 $500,000 $1,050,000 $5,550,000 $500,000 $5,050,000

The APY of this contract is $3.6 million ($18 million over five years), snugly in between Crosby and Bailey, and the fully guaranteed money is $7.5 million, snugly in between Gostkowski and Crosby. McManus also gets two years of base salary fully guaranteed.  For the remainder of the contract, the Broncos hold three consecutive option bonuses of $300,000, $500,000, and $700,000, all due before the start of each league year.  This, again, gives the Broncos comp pick protection in every one of these years, and it also gives McManus the protection of getting onto the market at the right time should the Broncos part ways with him at any point in his contract.