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Burress’s Monetary Impact

Ralph Vacchiano of the New York Daily News did a great job of breaking down what Plax gave up by not taking a restructured deal, as well as cap implications.

There are so many parts of this Plaxico Burress saga that scream “What a waste!” it’s hard to know where to truly begin. But here’s the one part I truly can’t fathom:

Burress could have earned $18.5 million in the next four years just by showing up to work and behaving like a relatively normal person.

Instead, for reasons known only to him, he decided it just wasn’t worth it.

In hindsight, it’s shocking to look at the incentive-laden, five-year, $35 million contract the 31-year-old signed in September (and by the way, weren’t the Giants brilliant to avoid big guarantees and front-loading in favor of incentives … as if they had a feeling something like this might happen). Pending the result of last week’s arbitration, Burress did earn about $8 million from the Giants in 2009 (a $3.25 million salary, a $4.25 million signing bonus and a $250,000 roster bonus). But here’s what he threw away:

• $11.5 million in salaries ($1 million in 2009, $3.5 million in each of the next three years).

• $5.7 million in roster bonuses ($2.925 million this year and $925,000 in each of the next three years). Roster bonuses, by the way, are basically behavioral clauses that insist players don’t engage in dangerous physical activity (bungee jumping, water skiing, riding a motorcycle, etc.), do drugs, or do anything that causes them to get suspended for “conduct detrimental” to the team or suspended by the league. If they comply with that and are on the roster in each of those years, they get the bonus.

• $1.3 million in workout bonuses ($325,000 per year), for showing up at the offseason program (OK, he was obviously never going to get these, but they were available if he was interested).

That’s $18.5 million for the next four years for simply showing up and doing his job. He didn’t even have to do it well, he just had to be there and behave. No, the contract wasn’t guaranteed. The Giants could have cut him at any time. But if they didn’t — and there was no reason to think they would have — Burress didn’t have to do anything at all on the field to get that money. None of that $18.5 million was tied to performance.

Also lost to Burress were $7.1 million in salary escalators and incentives ($1.05 million in 2009 and 2010, $2.5 million in 2011 and 2012), which would’ve increased his salaries or added to his bonus total, that were tied to performance. He had already missed a few, especially after a terrible statistical year in 2008, but there were more to come.

In all there was about $27 million left to be earned on his contract, and nearly 70 percent of it just required him to act the way a normal, professional person would act.

Again — and perhaps for the last time, since he’s some other team’s problem now — what a shame, and what a waste.

***

Many of you have asked about the cap implications of cutting Burress, and the best I can tell you from a team source is that it will be an “undetermined” cap savings for 2009. It’s undetermined because a lot of his contract is under the scrutiny of an arbitrator at the moment, so things can change. It’s also an extremely complicated contract with only a small percentage of the money tied up in base salaries.

Keep in mind, though, the definition of “cap savings” is in the eye of the beholder. The Giants consider it a “savings” because Burress’ cap number for 2009 will now be less than it would’ve been if he was still on the roster. But he still carries a cap number even though he’s gone. And a league source told Gary Myers, the Daily News’ NFL columnist, that Burress will now count for $4.4 million against the 2009 cap. The first $3.4 million of that comes from the remaining four years of his prorated signing bonus ($850,000 per year for four years) that all now counts at once. That’s all “dead money” weighing on the Giants’ cap in 2009.

Now, on Sirius NFL Radio yesterday morning, Gil Brandt told me Burress’ cap number for 2009 would have been more than $7 million if he was still on the roster. That sounds high to me, but I’ll trust Gil’s numbers. Whatever the exact number would have been, it at least included his $1 million salary, $2.925 million roster bonus, and a prorated portion of his signing bonus ($850,000). So it’s possible the Giants could be “saving” a few million dollars cutting him. But again, they’re not really “saving” anything considering they’re paying cap space in 2009 for a player who is no longer here.

I’ll work on getting you an exact number. But wait until after the arbitration hearing first, just in case everything changes.


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